Published by Mariana Zapata on 16th September 2022
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Of all the things that could have landed in her yard… it had to be him.
For most people, finding a half-naked superbeing in their yard might be a dream come true.
Unfortunately for Gracie Castro, it’s the exact opposite.
Especially when he’s grouchy, rude, and shows no signs of leaving anytime soon.
But when a hero of mankind needs you, you do what you have to.
Even if it compromises everything you know.
And totally changes your life.
‘When Gracie met the Grump’ felt almost like a Thor-retelling (the very first movie), with several tweaks in between—except that you’ve got a heroine trying to keep her neck above water at all costs, and a superhero whose words are so scarce and whose attitude is so stinky that you start to wonder at the congruity of the pairing.
Mariana Zapata’s take on there-are-aliens-livine-amongst-us-in-plain-sight is a fun but long, long one—and they’re people who loom to far above humanity it seems, with their wealth, limitless power and their ancestry on a different planet. I would have loved to know more about that particular aspect of her world-building, but came off rather disappointed when it becomes background knowledge that’s used as a cursory explanation for the superhero family that Gracie finds herself inserted in. Why is there such a super-power that exists? How did that come about? Why are some more powerful than others?
Too many questions, too few answers found.
Gracie is quite the stereotypical Zapata-heroine here: fluttery, with a tendency toward cringey verbal diarrhoea, often overthinking and over-apologising, and too self-aware of her own gutless responses at times while actually remaining as dense as she wilfully can be. Written solely in her POV, we often get that same, narrow perspective of things around her, of her rambling thoughts and through her ‘denseness’; as a result, there’s this very distant image of the superhero Alex for the reader—who remains mysterious, grumpy (and mean), saying very little throughout until it all comes right out in the last 5 percent of the book…also quite par for the course for a Zapata-hero, come to think of it.
It’s a story that started out great for me but eventually flat-lined because of the merry-go-round repetition, the lack of a proper forward-momentum and the odd, bewildering use of juvenile language that just seemed out of character for both Alex/Gracie when these moments pop up. They talk at each other (more Gracie than Alex), but their conversations don’t necessarily pierce through the thick fog of Gracie’s ramblings and wandering, anxious thoughts and by the end of it, I wasn’t entirely convinced of their attraction or deep connection to each other because of this. In all, a rather disappointing read but maybe I’d expected entirely too much here.