Title: The Other Side of Gravity
Author: Shelly Crane
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance
My name is Maxton and I’m a trader.
I live on a soulless planet where gravity, oxygen, and everything else are sold to the highest bidder on the black market. People are sold on the black market, too. You have to work really hard not to become one of those people. Pay your taxes, keep your friends and family close, and more than anything else—don’t get caught by the Militia. But all the rules changed for me the day I found her.
My name is Sophelia and I’m a stowaway.
I’ve been a slave for almost as long as I can remember. Waiting for the one day, one second, for my proprietor to turn his head so I could run and never look back. Now I’m on the run. And on a planet where no one is on your side and people would turn you in for a good meal or a piece of a silver, being on the run on Landu is the last place you want to be. Until he found me.
I won’t survive without him.
I can’t breathe without her.
I received a digital copy of this book (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to the publishers!
And yet another Shelly Crane novel that greatly disappointed me. My first Crane novel was Significance (no book review for that one yet), which I found to be outrightly terribly written with an exceedingly toxic romance between the main characters. However, I didn’t want to close the door on the author just yet.
The Other Side of Gravity seemed like the perfect read for author redemption. The book’s cover is undeniably gorgeous, the idea pitched in the premise seemed like a strong foundation for a good plot, and the setting introduced was admittedly fascinating. However, the delivery fell flat in just about every aspect and ultimately, the storytelling was utterly mediocre and nearly reduced me to bored tears.
The introductory chapters were all right. I was given a glimpse of how Sophelia was orphaned at an extremely young age and was forced into slavery. I also learned that the Earth eventually became so uninhabitable that people had to resort to taking oxygen and gravity pills in order to survive, and even then, the word ‘survive’ was used quite loosely. In terms of worldbuilding, The Other Side of Gravity was pretty impressive. It was not perfectly executed, but I will commend it for employing a distinctly unique concept.
Unfortunately, after the novel’s strong and promising beginning, everything quickly sloped downhill. Sophelia was first presented as a sassy, independent and perfectly adept heroine clamoring for her freedom and unafraid to fight for it. However, once she and Maxton were thrown together, everything admirable about her character was immediately thrown out of the window. She became needy, embarrassingly helpless, and overly dependent. Think the antithesis of Arya Stark from Game of Thrones. Basically, her strength and backbone were totally macerated for the sake of an attractive male – an absurd concept that is, sad to say, still common in most fiction. To add to that, Maxton had a habit of mentioning her physical appearance whenever he thought about her (context: the story is written in the dual perspectives of Sophelia and Maxton). It seemed to me that he was blatantly objectifying her, which did not sit well with my ideals at all.
The elements that constituted a promising dystopian novel were completely overshadowed by the romance between the two leading characters. To make matters worse, the romance aspect was not even well-developed! I’m pretty sure their attraction towards one another was largely based on physical appearances. Their ‘love’ was instantaneous, unrealistic and unhealthy to a ridiculous proportion. I cringed on more than one occasion, I swear.
Moreover, the story had little to no plot. The mentions of an oppressive government and a rising rebellion ceased quickly, were placed completely on the backburner for most of the story, and only resurfaced in the latter chapters. Even then, crucial details were ignored, if not disregarded entirely. Also, the sudden savior complex towards the end was frustrating to read about. By that point, it was too late to redeem anything.
In summary, The Other Side of Gravity was a waste of time. I mourn for the trees that died in order to produce physical copies of this atrocity.
Excerpt from the book:
“And you may be a little cracked, Soph, but it wouldn’t take very much to fix. And I’d love to try.”
She smiled, looking at my shirtfront, and sighed. “Why did you have to be so amazing?”
I laughed a little. “Well, I could give you a list–”
She smacked my gut and I “oomphed” for her benefit. She lifted her eyes to mine and I saw the question before she asked. “Why are you doing this? What do you get out of it? I’m… I’m not worth the trouble of all this, of the trouble that’s coming for us–for me.”
I hoped it showed on my face. I couldn’t see how it wasn’t. I felt it in that moment as I thought about the way I felt when I was with her, when she had been with my family, when she tugged on my hair in that way she does, when she jokes with the twins and laughed so wholeheartedly, when she kissed me back like we wouldn’t wake up the next day so she better make it good. I smiled and brought her closer a little with my hand still holding her face.
“The fact that you can’t see how much you’re worth makes you worth so much more.” She opened her mouth once, her brow bunched, but nothing came out. She didn’t know the words to ask. I continued. “A diamond doesn’t know how much it’s worth; it’s just beautiful because it exists.”