Today, I'm posting a release-day review for Aprillynne Pike's Earthbound. It's an epic, cinematic tale that readers will really love.
Published July 30th 2013 by Razorbill
Format read: E-ARC via Edelweiss
So when I was given the opportunity by Razorbill to read an ARC of Earthbound, I vowed to myself that I would go into the book blind – treat the ARC like it was a book from an author I had never heard of. I wanted to make sure that I gave the book a fair chance, and wasn’t influenced by either my (fairly strong) dislike of Wings or my love of Life after Theft.
I’m so glad I made that commitment, because Earthbound proved to be one of those magical YA books with the drama, tragedy and intrigue reminiscent of classic YA books like A Wrinkle in Time. I was absolutely riveted from beginning to end, and can’t wait for the title to come out so I can share it with others.
While her recovery progress has been slow, it’s been steady. Tavia is back taking classes, she’s making in progress in therapy, and she’s even managed to make a friend/new crush – Benson. She finally begins to feel like she might be making progress on moving on.
However, all of this comes to a screeching halt when a strange and beautiful boy dressed in historical clothes seems to recognize her. As their encounters begin to grow in number (and in strange circumstances), other inexplicable events begin happening on other parts of Tavia’s life as well. She begins to realize she has the power to manipulate molecules – to essentially create things out of empty space.
But more importantly, Tavia learns that she’s an Earthbound - a member of an immortal race. Beyond her powers to simply create objects, she’s also the key to stopping a centuries-old group which has been attempting to stop the Earthbound for centuries.
Set against an urgent backdrop of where a disease is indiscriminately killing millions around the world, and the weather is about to destroy several parts of the nation, Earthbound is cinematic and breathtaking in its scope.
Things that worked:
* Pike's writing. Pike conveys Tavia’s post-crash life in rich and descriptive tones, which immediately forms a tight between the reader and Tavia.
She’s especially vivid in having Tavia reflect on her feelings about her recovery, which goes a long way in helping the reader understand just how much Tavia has consistently struggled with loss – e.g. the devastation that she feels because even after months of physical therapy, she still can’t draw like she used to.
* The plotting. Pike maintains a fine balance between the action and the introspective moments. E.g. I really liked the fact that Pike thought to include the final moments of the crash in the first chapter. The vividness of Tavia’s final moments with her parents really provided a stark contrast to the first several chapters describing Tavia’s recovery.
Moreover, the contrast between the active and the introspective also does an excellent job in showcasing how Tavia has been lulled into a false sense of security after the crash. Thus, the shock/urgency she feels when realizing that not everything is right is even more acute, when the action starts up again.
* The world-building. I noticed this in Life after Theft as well =- Pike does an excellent job of including details both big and small, which help enrich Tavia’s world. Small things like Tavia's penchant for examining historical buildings, the flickers that she notices in some of the people she interacts with, makes the later *insert giant spoiler here* reveal feel logical and plausible.
In terms of the bigger picture, her subtle but consistent mentions of the virus, and catastrophic global storms, does a wonderful job in setting up the idea of what Tavia is up against.
* The mythology. The background that Pike creates for the Earthbound is lovely and innovative. I would honestly go so far as to say that her use of fantasy and science-fiction elements are different than anything in YA right now.
While she was clearly influenced by a combination of western (namely Greek) and eastern mythology, she puts her own spin onto Tavia’s background as an Earthbound. I’m intrigued to see what kind of powers Tavia and Logan may develop further down the line, and how they will help the ongoing global problems.
* The politics between all of the factions in the Earthbound community. I’m going to have to read the book again to wrap my head around the supporters and detractors, but Pike has done an excellent job of setting up all of the different groups.
* The conclusion. Pike does an excellent job of crafting a cliffhanger which will absolutely make people sit up and ask for more.
And don’t worry - it’s not the type of cliffhanger where you get annoyed with the author for making it blatantly obvious that you have to read the next book to find out what happens. It’s the type of ending where you realize you’ve actually become really invested in the characters – and you want to see how things play out.
Things that didn't work:
* The love triangle. (Yes, sorry - there's a love triangle in the book!)
Pike clearly wants to reader to feel torn between Tavia's newly-formed acquaintance with Quinn, and her pre-existing crush on/burgeoning relationship with Benson. However, Pike also makes the plotting decision to have Tavia constantly describe her feelings for Quinn in strong, dramatic terms.
E.g. Tavia states that Quinn has the most beautiful face she's ever seen; she insists that Quinn makes her feel like a whole new person - etc.
As a result, it became hard for me to take Tavia's growing relationship with Benson seriously. I kept wondering how she could feel torn between the two guys if she had such strong feelings for Quinn in the first place. I also wondered why Benson would even want to be with someone who has clearly admitted to having feelings for someone else.
* The relatives.
Without giving too much away, they make their way into Tavia’s life through a method which made me think, “there is NO way they would have ever gotten away with that in real life.” Wouldn’t people – e.g. social workers - have checked up on Tavia?
I highly recommend this for all YA sci-fi/fantasy readers of all ages, especially for fans of Beth Revis, Andrea Cremer, Anne Brashere's My Name is Memory and Madeline l’Engle.
Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC of Earthbound from Razorbill via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!