3 out of 4 stars
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Xania was just three when the inhabitants of Earth fled to Planet 43rd (short for the fourth planet in the third galaxy). Their leaders warned them over the years to not wander very far from their compound. However, Xania is fearless, loves to explore, and doesn’t always follow the rules. On her 23rd birthday, she secretly hikes farther than usual. Subsequently, she soon runs into danger, needing to be rescued by a young man named Yoloquin. He is obviously not from their compound. His skin is a jet black color at the beginning, but the black quickly fades to gray as his intense emotions from rescuing her from her near-death experience subside. She learns Yoloquin can also turn invisible. Weirdly, when Xania talks with him, he understands and can converse in her language, telling her their word for their planet is Eerth, another odd coincidence.
He informs her she is never to tell anyone about encountering him. His people have been surreptitiously studying the Earthlings for years. Being physically superior, they have made strict laws against any intermingling, not wanting any romantic involvement between the two species. Their rules state that if an Earthling sees one of them they have to die. If the Earthling isn’t killed by the Eerth native, both will be terminated once it is discovered. Regrettably for Yoloquin, he has been studying Xania for years, has developed feelings for her, and couldn’t stand by and watch her die. She experiences an extremely intense attraction to him as well. Yoloquin emphasizes they can never see each other again—it absolutely isn’t safe. Can Xania keep this information to herself and stay away from Yoloquin?
Eerth Awakening by A. L. Riley fits into the science fiction/fantasy category, but it also has intermixed romance. It is the first book in the series but can definitely be read as a standalone novel because all the pertinent questions are answered by the end. Written from the first-person point of view, from Xania’s perspective, the author’s prose is descriptive and easy to understand. We can readily appreciate Xania’s frame of mind and the reasons for her actions. There is a dominant theme of prejudice towards others because they are believed to be different; the importance of family and friends is also a key aspect of the book.
The character development, being superb, represents my favorite aspect of the book. The reader experiences Xania’s desire to get out and explore, her love for her parents and younger sister, her fears, but most of all, her longing to be with Yoloquin. The attraction between the two is almost palpable. While being invisible, Yoloquin has been observing her for years, gradually realizing he is falling in love but unable to do anything about it. He is torn between his desire to be with her and his need to protect her.
Sadly, there are far too many punctuation and grammatical errors. This is my least favorite aspect of the story. The book could use a professional editor.
The only other thing I dislike is there are too many similarities between the species to be realistic: they speak the same language, both use bottled water and blankets, they enjoy similar foods, their homes are pretty much the same, etc. I feel this is not very believable as humans living in various countries on Earth have more dissimilarities than these people from different planets have.
However, because this descriptive novel was very intriguing, and I had trouble putting it down, Eerth Awakening achieves a rating of three out of four stars. One star was removed due to the errors and the unrealistic similarities between the people of the two different planets.
No profanity or sex, other than kissing and touching, were encountered in the story. Subsequently, I enthusiastically recommend it to any reader who enjoys science fiction/fantasy novels with interwoven romance; however, I think readers in the YA age group would enjoy it the most.
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