I don’t usually gravitate toward the paranormal. I hold some strong religious views and am of the opinion that the occult can be dangerous. But I’ve agreed to review Gravity, so I will judge Ms. Boyd’s craft, not her subject matter. And my conclusion? Abigail Boyd is a gifted writer!
In Gravity, Ms. Boyd has created three wonderful characters. Ariel is a fifteen-year-old girl whose best friend has vanished without a trace. She lacks confidence, struggles with “what ifs,” and she’s totally confused by her sensitivity toward the paranormal, not to mention her difficulty dealing with overprotective parents. Ariel’s new friend, Theo (feminine), holds to her own unique but personable style, and Henry, well, who knows what Henry is? Despite her hopes, Ariel certainly can’t figure it out! The shifting relationships between this cast of well-rounded and oh-so-normal characters provides the foundation for a page-turning plot.
Ms. Boyd’s narration is nearly flawless. She scripts sentences that are easy to maneuver, with smooth transitions and unlabored prose. It’s just edgy enough to appeal to kids, but not so slangy as to appear dated in a few years. For instance, “McPherson (the principal) had always thrown me a vibe that screamed wrong.” I talk like that. I love it. And here are a few of her absolutely fabulous details and word pictures:
“My math teacher, Mr. Vanderlip was a twitchy little man with a paisley tie.”
“Her cloying cloud of fruit punch scented perfume hit me in the face like a chemical warfare attack.”
“It was comforting talking to someone I actually could talk to. I no longer felt like a target, dodging around waiting to get hit.”
“He had the personality of a dripping towel.”
Great stuff, ain’t it? And now let’s talk about suspense. When weird stuff starts happening, the knocks on the wall, the slamming lockers, the visions and dreams, you have to keep pushing on, because you have to learn what’s happening. And exactly what is Principal McPherson up to (the scumbag!)?
The book isn’t quite perfect. Ariel’s first day of school, in the early chapters, explains much, but I was starting to feel a little restless from its length. There’s also some scattered profanity. Not much, but I always question its necessity in a book classified for children. And apart from my own personal discomfort with a séance scene, I think séances are overdone. Every book, every movie, every television series, it seems, includes one. I also found lots of typos (which I’ve sent on to the author and trust will shortly be fixed) and a few logistical problems, where narration contradicts itself. Again, easy fixes.
Now back to the stuff I appreciated. Ms. Boyd has a great feel for a book’s movement. Her relationships work in slowly, naturally. Scenes build on each other. She plants fabulous clues that are easily glossed over until suddenly those detail take on significance. The whole book is skillfully wrought.
The ending, however, I hated. Not because it sucks, but because the suspense is so well done that I now have to wait for her next installment to come out. Because I must keep reading. I must learn what happens!