First in a series
By Aprilynne Pike
Available now from Razorbill (Penguin Random House)
Tavia Michaels survived the plane clash that killed her parents and more than two-hundred strangers. She's on her way to physical and emotional recovery when she starts seeing things. A boy, triangles, flickering people. Worse, there's a man following her.
I enjoy books where characters find out that they're living in a paranormal universe, not a realistic one, and they have to piece together the rules. Thus, I liked quite a bit of EARTHBOUND. On that note, however, the book got more disappointing as it went on. Several important pieces of the puzzle are handed to Tavia in a long infodump, one delivered when the characters should be running for their lives. Then it turns out that the rules of the universe might not apply.
There is a love triangle, which will excite almost no one I know. I will give Aprilynne Pike this: I am slightly unsure which boy Tavia will end up with, which is rare indeed. (I have strong feelings about which I think will be Tavia's choice, but the second book will probably be needed to solidify those feelings.) One of the boys is Quinn, who she keeps seeing around but who talks in an elliptical fashion and keeps disappearing. The other is Benson, her best friend whom she wants something more with. He works in a library, which certifies his hotness bona fides. So far my favorite thing about the triangle is Tavia's insistence that she will date and fall in love with who she wants and everyone else can keep their opinion to themselves.
In other words, the triangle didn't bother me much. What did bother me were a couple of brief passages that dropped in on the bad guys. They didn't flow, and I felt they were too obvious about upcoming plot twists. I'm not sure cutting them would have changed EARTHBOUND at all.
EARTHBOUND doesn't really get moving until the end. It's mostly setup - not bad setup - but I felt like the opening was a bit long. I think Pike is developing an interesting mythology and I'm interested in seeing where her strong-willed heroine will go, but I wasn't entirely satisfied with EARTHBOUND. At the same time, the book ended with the main characters in an interesting place.
EARTHBOUND is a good choice for paranormal fans who enjoy conspiracies, secret societies, reincarnation, and love triangles. It's a bit slow, but it promises exciting things for the series to come.