Saturday, December 31, 2011

Review: How to Date an Alien Blog, by Magan Vernon

Title: How to Date an Alien
Author: Magan Vernon
Publisher: Darkside Publishing
Pub. Date: December, 2011
How to Date an Alien is the story of Alex Bianchi – a girl who, in an attempt to look better as an applicant to Columbia University, asks her father if he can help get her a summer internship at the base where he works. What she doesn't know is that Circe isn't just any average, old military base, it's an alien operation center, filled to the brim with otherworldly beings.

In her just first week at Circe, Alex's entire world view is flipped beyond recognition, her life is threatened (and saved!) twice, and she meets Ace, a Caltian to whom she feels a strong, undeniable pull. Soon enough, romance blossoms, and from there – well, drama!

While reading  How to Date an Alien, there were several things that popped up that I just couldn't wrap my head around. There were some scenes and situations I thought felt forced, or where dialogue didn't fit, etc. Some of it was even forgivable, due to the quirky nature of the story itself. I'm not going to sit here and list all the minor things about this book that I didn't like, for whatever reason, but I do want to mention one of the major problems I had with this book: Gavin.

I thought his character was severely abused throughout the course of the novel. When we first meet Gavin, he is introduced as a sweet, sort of cute human guy whom you could tell from the get-go was into Alex. It's only expected, therefore, that he would try and show that interest (whether his tactics were subtle, or not). That seemed to be fine (she even tried to flirt right back!) – until Alex met Ace.

Now, this book is titled  How to Date an Alien, so it's not as if I expected poor, human Gavin to have a fair shot at winning the girl. That said, I don't think it was fair to vilify him for liking her, either.

After meeting Ace, and realizing that she was inexplicably drawn to him, anything Gavin did to show his interest in Alex came off as slimy (at one point he's accused of only being into Alex because she's his only “option” at Circe, and he's “desperate”), and anytime he showed even the slightest bit of jealousy, he became a jerk (admittedly, some of his comments do push the boundaries, but at one point he was referred to as “a first rate a-hole” [ebook p.45/294] purely for acting a bit jealous and telling her Ace was gawking at her).

(I feel I should note here, that when Ace acts jealous – and he does – it's laughed off, and accepted for what it is. And, yes, some of his reactions were out of line, too.)

As if that weren't bad enough, after Alex and Ace reach “official” relationship standing, Gavin just sort of drops off the face of the Earth. I wish I could say that literally. That, at least would have been an awesome exit. He does make a brief appearance towards the end of the book (to tie up loose ends, and admit how “wrong and jerkish” he was – and, of course, to add a bit more jerk on top), but he was notably absent from the main, plot-driving scenes of the story. It was as if his character was merely thrown in to make Ace seem that much greater in comparison.

Not that I didn't love Ace, or the book, even, for that matter.

Magan Vernon brings us a delightfully fast, quirky little read, blended nicely with star-crossed romance and the threat of intergalactic warfare. What more could a reader want?

I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed this book, despite the frustrations brought on by the whole Gavin thing. This really is a cute, fun, romantic story.

One of the things I absolutely LOVED was the fairly consistent banter between the romantic leads. I have to say that most of my favorite scenes took place in their tiny little office, and I couldn't wait to be brought back there again for another little banter-fest (One scene in particular comes to mind: Alex accusing Ace of wearing guy-liner. Hilarious!). Both of them were completely adorable. Even when things got tense, it wasn't long before one of them was making some sort of crack that had me laughing instead of worrying very much for their safety.

Another thing I liked was the pace of this story. It never really dragged. Everything just kept moving forward, nice and steady. I said before that some situations felt awkward, and out of place, but nothing about the actual plot, or the course of the plot, did; it was just some of the little details in-between that seemed off.

I think part of my issue while reading this book was my attitude going into it. From the beginning, this was a review book for me, which meant I was already taking it more seriously than a lot of books. When I review a book, or rather when I know I'm going to review a book before reading, I enter a certain mindset that helps me to analyze what I read. Unfortunately, this is not the sort of book you want read seriously.

I can tell this will be hard to explain as I try to convey my meaning here. What I'm trying to say when I say that this book shouldn't be read seriously is that  How to Date an Alien is a funny, quirky, light little read, and should be read as such.

Think about other quirky books you've read in the past. What made them fun? For me, it was that I didn't have to get too deeply involved in the serious issues the characters faced. Some books are just so heavily laden with that stuff. Quirky books, on the other hand, are supposed to be fun and light and, overall, just refreshing to read, for one reason or another. Sometimes it's nice to have that change-up.

I'm not say that in my read-through  How to Date an Alien didn't meet my quirky book preferences, because it did. All the things I like about quirky books fought their way through to the surface, which is what I love about this book. I'm merely saying that had I pursued this book for the sheer enjoyabilty this story is itching to bring to its readers instead of actively searching for something to critique (because I have this thing where I like to add at least one positive and one negative point to each of my reviews, regardless of how much I loved/hated it), I would have enjoyed it much more than I did.

The reason for this severe digression? I hope that you Pretty Readers give  How to Date an Alien a fairer shot than I did. Despite whatever faults this book may poses, this really is an awesome little novel. I personally give it 4 Crazy Hearts, and I can't wait to read more of Alex and Ace (especially if that "more" involves lots of banter).

Courtesy of author Magan Vernon, enter for your chance to win an ebook copy of  How to Date an Alien  right here!  
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