Published: 1st August 2013 by HarperCollins
Format: Paperback, 353 pages
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology
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Eighteen-year-old Tavia is the only survivor of a plane crash that killed her parents. Grieving and lonely, she starts having strange visions; of a boy she's never met but feels compulsively drawn to. A boy who tells her to do things she never dreamed of.
Tavia begins to suspect that secrets are being kept from her, and that her kindly aunt and uncle know more than they are letting on. Was the plane crash really an accident? Or is Tavia part of something bigger than she ever imagined?
With only her instincts and long-time crush, Benson, to rely on, Tavia must decide where her destiny lies, and who with.
Earthbound began so promisingly – traumatized young girl who’s lost her parents, has a nice best-friend whom she’s slightly crushing on, and has amicable relationships with the step-aunt and uncle who have taken her in. She sees a mysterious blonde boy on the street, and immediately feels a connection to him. She then sees him at 2 am on her lawn, and freaks out. Tells her therapist and best friend. Worries about her safety.
All great points, right? Pike’s writing, up to this point, is lyrical and engaging and I was really loving where the story was going.
Cut to the next morning, where our protagonist, Tavia, has decided that the mystery-man is nice. Trustworthy. That he’s not going to hurt her. That “he’s a cappuccino secret – something sweet and frothy that warms me from the middle out.” Excuse me, what? Despite repeated warnings and weirdness, Tavia decides she’s going to go meet him, in a town that takes hours of driving to get to. Then her guardians and therapist turn on her. And off we go, with the best friend Benson in tow.
What follows is too complex, and simultaneously too boring, for me to remember clearly. Luckily I kept good notes on Goodreads! There are red herrings everywhere, the main characters are never on the right track, and there are so many coincidences and random events that I could not keep up. Certain events stuck out at me, and had me laughing out loud or groaning in despair, but I don’t think the author was going for those reactions.
It’s immensely difficult to like a book if you dislike the protagonist, especially in a book told in first-person. And I disliked Tavia vehemently, once she stopped being an independent, intelligent young woman, and became focussed on following her stalker. I just don’t understand why anyone, man or woman, would react the way she did. So I was laughing when bad things happened to her, and rolling my eyes at her pathetic attempts at figuring out what’s going on.
My antipathy towards Tavia could have been redeemed if I had felt any connection to either love interest, but the romance didn’t grab my attention either. There are absolutely no redeeming qualities about Tavia’s mystery stalker, and her best friend Benson is bland. Tavia can’t figure out which one of them she wants, and is constantly thinking about one and making out with the other. On the topic of Benson – I also feel that the romance between Tavia and Benson is really weird: they basically act un-attracted to one another except for a handful of random but intense make out sessions. It’s really confusing. There is a fix that the author introduces, some 86% of the way through the book, but I had basically given up on Earthbound by then.
My final gripe is the plot itself. Or, to be clearer, the lack thereof. Beginning as science-fiction lite, perhaps with a bit of reincarnation/parallel universes thrown in, Earthbound quickly snowballs to incorporate elements of historical thrillers, paranormal romance and finally, Egyptian mythology. It feels like the author didn’t know where the book was going, and just kept adding over-used tropes until a page limit was achieved.
The thing that almost made me throw the book across the room was this: View Spoiler »“I should have realised how ubiquitous the triangle has been as a symbol throughout our history. The Templars, the Masons, the Egyptians; hell, it’s on our dollar bills. The Earthbound – and through them, these brotherhoods – are etched across the history of civilisation.” « Hide Spoiler
I found that the story did pick up in the end – once Tavia stopped thinking about her mystery-stalker and Benson, I started enjoying the book again. So perhaps a lot of my discontent with the novel has to do with the love triangle – I found it unnecessary and bland.
I didn’t like this story and I wish I had spent my free time engaged more pleasantly. But it’s a little like a train wreck, I couldn’t look away, couldn’t stop reading, and it was so bad, it was almost riveting. If you like your love triangles with a background of themes of mythology and reincarnation, you may enjoy Earthbound. But I’m not sure I’ll ever be brave enough to pick up a Pike book again, and thank my stars that I read Life After Theft (which I enjoyed immensely) beforehand.