Thursday 19 September 2013

Book review : Gravity - Tess Gerritsen

When I first started reading Tess Gerritsen's Gravity - one of the books that I found in the swaps library in our hotel on holiday (a fab idea if ever there was one !) - I wasn't sure I was going to like it. It starts off with a deep sea diver on a scientific mission getting wedged in a crevice and noticing strange movement, then moves on to a group of astronauts getting ready for a space shuttle flight to outer space. Science fiction, in the truest sense of the term. But there are no little green men or unlikely alien beings attacking the vessel. The threat comes from small single-cell organisms that have been taken aboard as part of one of the astronaut's scientific experiments, which is much more plausible and, therefore, scary.

Tess Gerritsen defines her genre as medical thrillers and I was at first slightly put off by the glossary of acronyms and NASA-speak at the back of the back. This does serve to ground the story in credible realism though and even if you don't check what every technical term means, you can still follow the story very easily. The plot centres around young female astronaut Emma Watson, who finds herself out of her depth as things go to pot in the space station.

Emma is a strong but vulnerable character and it is easy to like her and empathise with her. Her emotional baggage comes in the form of her estranged husband Jack, another would-be astronaut who was grounded by a medical condition that ruled out trips to space and who lost his marriage along with his dreams. The chemistry between the two of them, as he battles to bring her home, adds another dimension to the novel, even if the ending is rather predictable.

I loved the little details of life in weightlessness on board the space station, as well as the behind-the-scenes glimpses that we rarely see. It was chilling to hear of the plans that are put in place in case things go wrong - I have no idea if the president's input in the novel is truth or fiction but it is quite believable and totally chilling.

Watching the astronauts dying one by one knowing that there is no escape and that, even if there was, they wouldn't be allowed to return to Earth makes for a tense read. I found the early part of the novel to be quite slow, but by the end, I was totally gripped.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £6.99

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Book review : The Buddha In The Attic - Julie Otsuka

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