Monday, May 27, 2013

REVIEW: Fighting Gravity by Leah Petersen

Fighting Gravity (Physics of Falling, #1) Fighting Gravity by Leah Petersen
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The world building fell flat on its ass. The romance shovelled me crap. The protagonist tripped into a vexing stereotype.

+ the world building

Classism was a central theme in the world building, and it took no effort for me to believe in the fictional world. The bad news was that after the world building in the first few chapters there was no more world building thereafter. It was like building a house but stopping short of putting the plumbing.

The world building boiled down to the following: rich people were evil, poor people were perpetual victims, and the smart people were pawns of the rich people and indifferent to society ills. I understood that the book was trying to shine a light on the plight of the poor, but it did no service by offhandedly demonizing everyone but the poor.

What bothered me the most was the Imperial Intellectual Complex where the Empire segregated all their smart people. While it was believable as an academia, I didn’t like the disassociation between intellectualism and humanity.

+ the romance

If the romance was D/s, then I wouldn’t have minded the severe imbalance of power in the couple’s relationship, but it was not D/s. Peter’s treatment of Jacob pissed me off. Things were not a disaster in the beginning of their relationship, but they got very messy towards the end of the book, especially when Peter threw Jacob in jail and sentenced him to death but changed his mind at the last minute (because Reasons) and exiled him instead. That was just drama for drama’s sake, furthered by the matter that Peter was not a fully fleshed out character so his actions brought a sense of contrivance to the story.

The romance wasn’t romantic and endearing. Far from it. It was dysfunctional and abusive. There wasn’t even smut as a consolation; all the sex scenes happened off-page. I was expected to take the romance seriously. So seriously I did, and I did not like it one bit.

The couple had too many issues. None of them were resolved and very little were even addressed. I wouldn’t exactly label the romance as insta-love but it might as well have been given how I was led to believe that love will somehow, like fucking magic, conquer everything for the couple to be together.

Also, the glaring issue of heirs was never brought up. WTF. It was great that same sex relationships was a non-issue in the story but what about heirs? The book world-built how the royal family was uber important and how Peter was one the last few members. Thus, it seemed natural that the issue of heirs would have been addressed down the road. It never was, and it amounted to a plot hole.

In sum, this was not a romance of two people in love. This was a romance of a selfish, power-tripped Emperor and his naive, idealist scientist in an unbearably angsty relationship where they happened to feel moments of love.

+ the protagonist

I didn’t like how Jacob was stereotyped as a naive, idealist scientist. A prodigy? Yes. But smart? No. It was so pathetic how it took very little effort for the bad guys to bring Jacob down because all Jacob have to do was be himself. The story was strictly told in Jacob’s 1st person POV which meant I was supposed to be sympathetic, and I was in the beginning. After all, the story started with him as a child being forcibly taken away from his family in the slums. However, I quickly got disillusioned when Jacob grew into a reckless and thoughtless person with passing chapters.

Jacob never once seriously considered the consequences of being involved with Peter. FFS, his love interest was the Emperor, the most important guy in the story’s universe, the guy who can send him to prison if he’s displeased. Jacob didn’t think with his head, he thought with his dick.

Furthermore, Jacob treated his girlfriend like shit. I didn’t particularly see it as cheating but I could definitely understand if people did. Jacob should have firmly ended things with Kirti before he left the Imperial Intellectual Complex to be with Jacob. Instead, he let his relationship with Kirti remain ambiguous and took the coward's way out of letting the long distance disconnect their relationship. It was shitty of Jacob to leave things hanging with Kirti. Seriously shitty because previously Kirti and Jacob were childhood friends, like brother and sister, long before Peter ever came into the scene.

Later on, when he and Peter were on a break (if you can called your boyfriend almost killing you and then changing his mind and exiling you to a cesspool of a prison instead AND putting a restraining order against you a “break”) he used Kirti as a convenient bedmate. Though Kirti was willing, it was a bad move because their relationship was frayed and it didn’t need sex to complicate things. When he got back with Peter, once again Jacob failed to tell Kirti face-to-face. Even though they weren’t officially boyfriend and girlfriend the second time around, it was still shitty of Jacob, leveled up from seriously shitty to abysmally shitty. Jacob deserved a kick in the groin.

Thus, in addition to being a naive intellectual stereotype, Jacob was a dipshit. Admittedly, Jacob did try to improve himself and make amends, but it was far, far from enough. He never truly learned from his mistakes, and they were dumbass mistakes. I didn’t care how many things Jacob invented and how many times he revolutionized science, the dude was thoroughly a fuckwit.

I also did not like that the story positioned Jacob as a Jesus who would bring salvation to the poor. Suffice to say, instead of challenging classism as it intended, the book made things horrendously classist.

In Conclusion

I rate Fighting Gravity 2-stars for it was okay, and I’m being lenient. The book pushed my anger button more times than I care for.

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