Alternity - Mari Mancusi Skip to the end if its too long for you.Alternity is about a normal girl named Skye. She studies in a course that she love, in a university that she love, doing a dream job as a beta tester for Sims Medieval/WoW game called 'RealLife : Medieval Times' and have a boyfriend who is a DJ for the hottest club called Luna. But she's plagued with horrific nightmares of someone chasing after her and calling her by a very different name and wanted her to stop "chasing the moon".One night, she was lead to a VIP room in Luna where she found herself waking up to a futuristic underground world called Terra where everyone thinks she is Mariah, a daughter of one of the Circle of Eight, an influential girl and beloved among the Terrans and also a leader of the rebellion, Eclipsers, against their oppressive government.In my own word, Alternity is a love-child of every scifi novels, movies and tvseries that I enjoyed like Fringe, Matrix, Terminator, City of Ember, (tiny tiny bit) The Hunger Games, Inception and Dollhouse. If you love these things, I like you already.***Characterization : 5 Reasons Why I Love Skye Brown1# She's a GeekAt the start of the book, I do admit shamelessly that I beginning to like her because she's a gamer and kept Luke, Katniss and Harrison Ford (Deckard) poster in her dorm.I don't know why but if I found when I read a character who enjoyed playing computer games like me, girls or ladies or grandmothers who played games that I like and played it like me, I immediately form insta-attachment to them. Fictional or non fictional. True story.Earlier in the chapters, Skye worked part-time as a beta gamer for a female-centric company. There's the argument that some online games can be male-centric and even young boys can be aggressive and trollish to female gamers online which I can relate to. I did play WoW once but I tend to like offline RPG more than MMORPGs since I dont have to focus too much on leveling up or forming a factions and I can concentrate on with the quests and storylines.Actually, Mari Mancusi my kind of "Felicia Day". I think everyone knows who is Felicia Day right... well to me Mari is an equivalent of that... mostlye because she wrote Blood Coven and created my twin Rayne. Yep, you're welcome.2# To Mary Sue or not Mary SueThe prototypical Mary Sue is an original female character in a fanfic who obviously serves as an idealized version of the author mainly for the purpose of Wish Fulfillment. She's exotically beautiful, often having an unusual hair or eye color, and has a similarly cool and exotic name. She's exceptionally talented in an implausibly wide variety of areas, and may possess skills that are rare or nonexistent in the canon setting. She also lacks any realistic, or at least story-relevant, character flaws — either that or her "flaws" are obviously meant to be endearing.From on "Mary Sue"I have a hate-love situation with Mary Sues in Young Adult books. I do take time off trying to avoid reading YA because it is very frustrating when you're switching to another book and... *heavy sigh* its the same person all over with similar conflict and same sexual tension and triangle loves. But I kept reading it anyway.I do admit, the first part of the novel, Skye is quite a typical archetypal character. A college student who suddenly get suck into a dystopian world. Kinda like a bunch of escapism novels and characters that exist in fictions and anime around us.It's not a bad thing to do archetypal character. But because it's overused by every author in millions of books, even I was a bit pessimistic...But its THE Mari Mancusi. You never know what she will do. And most of the time, I was right about her.... 'Predictability' is never was one of Mari Mancusi's M.O.But for the first half of the book, I was really annoyed by Skye.I was fine for a couple of chapters and I was emphatic with her when I saw that she's been having these nightmares and then flash forward to her life with her friends and studies.... and she got herself into an 'Alice in Wonderland' situation.I think she got into a culture shock or something while in Terra. I know that she was forced to be in a place where it is weird similar but different and she became really scared about it especially when everyone seemed to act like they know her but she didn't.She's literally started to beg Dawn and then Senator Duske just so that she could go back to her idea of normalcy.Honestly, I had this horror movie violin scratching in my ear whenever she went 'moon gazing'. Even after Dawn warned her about her medication and told her the truth about it, she didn't listen! And it can be frustrating like watching someone playing Slender Game or something.But then, like a good story progression, she goes through a metamorphosis effect where Skye started to get suspicious with things, investigate, educate herself with things that people kept her away from, developing newer thoughts and ideas. Wondering whether some things in her reality are fiction or reality and what will she do about it.Overall, she started as a basic character until she developed into a better person.... and if you continue on reading, you'll be surprised by her character because not everything is as it seems.3# Identity ConfusionIf you know me at least for more than a year, I am a total Fringe frea*cough*fan. Remember how Olivia Dunham got kidnapped and replaced with another alternate version of Olivia Dunham and the real Olivia Dunham got brainwashed by memories of the other Olivia Dunham so that she could play along like the switch never happen and then Olivia began to realize who she is and really really wanted to go back home but the military captured her and wanted to dissect her for her brain... well... Alternity is sort of like that...When Skye found out that she resembled greatly to Mariah and that everyone thinks she's Mariah and insisted multiple of times that she is Mariah, Skye literally flipped.Mariah is a daughter of a Terran Senator and is considered as a royalty as she is a descendent of the Circle of Eight (the founder of Terra) and she is beloved by everyone in Terra until she started a rebellion against the government. A couple of months before this, she disappeared and their secret grand plan were sabotaged by the government and Dawn immediately assume that Mariah betrayed them and left them to her addiction.When Skye showed up and suddenly being blamed for things she didn't do, recognized as another great person who looked like her, and where everyone insisting that Skye is just a fake personality... I do understand that she get scared and wanted to go home where everything make sense to her. I could totally empathize with Skye when wanted to stay away from the rest of the Terrans initially.What can a person do when all identity that make you who you are is lies and that its just chemicals... and fiction!Frankly, the struggle with Skye and her conflicting identity with Mariah made this book as somewhat similar to a psychological thriller which I like very much.4# "Strong Girl Character with a Sword" made rightSo much blood. So much death. All at my own hands. If you know me long enough, you'll know me and the Stormdancer thing. (shake head)Finally I have a great 101 character example on "Strong Girl Character with a Sword" tropes.Honestly, I think among the recent YA books with sword-wielding female characters in it, Skye is probably one of the best I've read.In this book, Skye is having an identity confusion right? Similarly to Fringe's Olivia Dunham, both of them is embedded with the identity of the other person.. and also their skills. Olive with Fauxlivia's Olympic-level shooting skills and Skye with Mariah's pro-level swordsmanship. In Fringe season 3 episode 1, Olive did get scared when she killed several people and blow up a gas station with singular bullet for each target. In Alternity, while being attacked by some soldiers, Skye turned into Uma Thurman's "Kill Bill" The Bride and did a blood bath. Like a normal person covered in blood, she got sick, and scared. She didn't go kamikaze killing things because she can. Besides, how could a normal NYU student would react when she suddenly have killer moves?Unlike some book, this book actually have pages of monologues questioning herself and wondering how on earth she could have these sword-wielding skills... and totally freaked out when she killed someone with it.Alternity isn't about a girl becoming a strong character with a sword. It's about an ordinary girl becoming a strong character who happens to have skills with a sword and was freaked out about it.The sword is an enhancement to the story. It can be worked into the world building, the plot and characterization. But it's not an accessory where you show it off to people in lengthy descriptions and promotion but never deliver.In fact, I don't think Mari marketed this book using "a girl with a sword and trying to save the world from evil" as a sales pitch. Only the cover showing it. And honestly, I think she's more legit on it than Julie Kagawa's Immortal Rules.But because of this, I don't think its a suitable reading for a very young audience because it does contain some part of violence and blood. However, if you read The Hunger Games and is okay with it, I think you'll be fine with this book.5# No instalove. No triangle love... but....Actually, its more like Fringe triangle love with Olivia, Peter and Fauxlivia. I rarely find Female-Male-Female love triangle in YA unlike the usual Male-Female-Male triangle. So, I can assure you, if you're sick of triangle two boys loving one girl book, you'll like this one better.Dawn was Mariah's former boyfriend and he is the reason why Mariah choose to rebel against the Terran government. He love Mariah until she betrayed him and the rebels to the Circle. But his feelings for her never fade especially with his reaction when he first saw Skye for the first time.Unlike Peter who is in love with Olivia but is manipulated by Fauxlivia who she also end up loving Peter who end up wrecking Olivia and Peter's relationship although Peter still insist that he love Olivia and not Fauxlivia, Skye is quite sympathetic about Dawn's feeling for Mariah and in this book, its very obvious that Dawn is still struggling about it.Of course, Skye doesn't want him to rebound his feelings to Mariah on her who is a version of Mariah. Its complicated I know but when Mari wrote it, it made load of sense.The whole idea in this book is making sure that the development of their relationship is natural and interchangeable as the plot goes around. Not because suddenly they have intense feeling to one another. I really was impressed by the intensity of these two characters. I like it better when romance is written in this way since its far more romantic and effective. Most of all, it doesn't read like its forced or abrupt just to fill some loose parts in the storyline. I could count on so many popular books that does exactly that.and frankly, I had some high and low with Skye and Dawn but... at the end, this two is totally worth it. Just wait for it.***