Beneath The Surface by Alainna MacPherson
Coming July 31st
This is a dystopian romance where an alien guy and a human woman get it on against all odds. It’s an alright story with an interesting premise, but unfortunately there were many small mistakes and plotholes that ruined my overall enjoyment.
Blurb: An alien race has invaded earth, supposedly to help humans against another alien threat. But in the process they’ve enslaved the entire human race, using them as their inferior workforce. Annabeth is a young woman working in an alien mine when a new alien soldier arrives to supervise the miners. And, of course, Annabeth and the alien Soldier, Marken, are instantly drawn to each other. But humans and aliens aren’t allowed to socialize, never mind fall in love. Then, things escalate when Annabeth is attacked and Marken turns out to be something more than just a regular soldier.
The book is told through a dual POV. Annabeth’s and Marken’s chapters interweave to cover mostly everything that happens from both perspectives. It’s an interesting world-building going on. It would have been nice to get to know more details about the aliens and their society. As it is, you mostly only learn about their physical superiority and a handful of technologies that aren’t expanded upon. With more detail, the world-building would have been awesome.
I really liked the premise of the book. Alien invasion and enslaved humanity? Sign me up! And I did think that the read started out okay. But pretty much immediately, there were small oversights and inconsistencies that ruined the story. For example, in the very first chapter Annabeth works alongside an old friend of hers. Then the next day, it says she hasn’t seen him in over two weeks. Also, in the beginning of the book, it says that the aliens arrived ten years prior, when Annabeth was eight. But later in the story, it says that she’s twenty. In Marken’s first chapter, it’s made clear that his superior knows who he is, even if it’s not revealed to the reader. But after that, his superior acts like he doesn’t know, doing all sorts of stupid stuff until there’s a final showdown where he apparently remembers again. I’d say the latter error is the biggest one since it ruins the entire plot.
In addition to these kinds of mistakes, the portrayal of Annabeth’s and Marken’s budding feelings for each other was unfortunately not very convincing. Because they barely spoke. There were lots of stuff going on in their heads, but they hardly said three words to each other before they jumped each other’s bones. The lack of communication between Annabeth and Marken really lowered my opinion of the story. The book is written in a straight line and there are no time-lapses at all. So it’s easy to tell if a character should know a specific fact or if they talked about a certain thing. And there were quite a few instances when different characters acted like they had knowledge they actually didn’t have.
For example, when Annabeth is caught outside of their hotel room and is accused by alien staff of trying to run away from her master, without Marken or Annabeth speaking a word about it, they go on and shag for the first time instead. It could have so easily been solved by injecting a single line where Annabeth goes “hey you big hunky alien, I wasn’t running away, I was only trying to find something to eat”. Then they could bang away all they wanted. But no. That wasn’t the case.
I’d say the lack of dialogue is the second biggest miss of Beneath The Surface. Apart from it obviously leading to actual errors in the storyline, it also doesn’t make the infatuation between Annabeth and Marken particularly believable. And since their supposed love is the main event of this read, that’s pretty unfortunate.
The copy of Beneath The Surface that I read was an ARC, so I’m aware there could be minor errors like misspellings and the occasional odd sentence structure. And I’m aware that those (hopefully) will be fixed in the final release of the book. For ARCs, I always disregard such errors since – obviously – it’s not the final copy even if it is very close to release. I did this for Beneath The Surface as well. But the other mistakes, of which I mentioned just a few, were such that pulled me out of the story and ruined the credibility of the entire read. Therefore I don’t think I’m too harsh in pointing them out.
In conclusion, it’s obvious the story needs some more work. And I really hope the author decides to do that because, as I mentioned earlier, it’s a great premise and even the plot – once the plotholes are fixed – is great.