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I Belong

Review: The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

Title: The Way We Fall

Author: Megan Crewe

Genre: YA Dystopian

Series: Fallen World (Book 1)

Publication Date: January 24, 2012

Format: Hardcover, 309 Pages

ISBN-10: 1423146166 (Disney/Hyperion)

ISBN-13:  978-1423146162 (Disney/Hyperion)

Reviewed by: Emmy


It starts with an itch you just can’t shake. Then comes a fever and a tickle in your throat. A few days later, you’ll be blabbing your secrets and chatting with strangers like they’re old friends. Three more, and the paranoid hallucinations kick in.

And then you’re dead.

When a deadly virus begins to sweep through sixteen-year-old Kaelyn’s community, the government quarantines her island—no one can leave, and no one can come back. Those still healthy must fight for dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival.

As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest. Because how will she go on if there isn’t?

Megan Crewe crafts a powerful and gripping exploration of self-preservation, first love, and hope. Poignant and dizzying, this heart-wrenching story of one girl’s bravery and unbeatable spirit will leave readers fervently awaiting the next book in this standout new series.

Quick & Dirty: This plague-ridden novel starts out slow but picks up the pace as tensions and fevers run high on the island.  The format seems strange at first, but fits the plot arc of the book as the plot begins to develop.

Opening Sentence: Leo, it’s been about six hours since you left the island.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

This book begins with Leo.  He used to be Kaelyn’s best friend before they had a big fight while she lived in Toronto and never spoke again.  One day he leaves for school, and a few days later Kaelyn’s new friend Rachel is sick.  Itching that won’t stop, coughing, a fever, and then finally the sick act elated, as if nothing had ever been wrong with them.  Then they die.  Kaelyn’s dad is a microbiologist, who moved the family back to the island after finding her brother Drew kissing his boyfriend.  But when it becomes clear her father is the only one on the island who has any idea how this virus might be stopped, he becomes the de facto leader of the research institute–which had been created to study seaweed–and the hospital.

As he spends less and less time at home Kaelyn finds herself stuck there for longer and longer periods of time.  Finally it isn’t safe to go out in the street without a face mask on, and then it’s not even safe to be home. The Way We Fall is written in a letter-slash-diary style, with Kaelyn writing to Leo. First she was writing an apology for the way she’s treated him the last two years, but it quickly evolves into a case study of the island and the illness breeding there.  As more and more of her neighbors die the government gets involved. But quarantining the island doesn’t just mean that the virus is staying there, but that those healthy–including Meredith, her young cousin–are trapped.  The military was supposed to maintain order, but when a few of their own fall prey to the virus they give into their fear and it becomes a shoot-first-and-ask-if-ill-later situation.

The downside with any plague story is that not a whole lot happens unless those affected become ravaging zombies or get superpowers.  They get sick, they die, the reader wonders who will get sick next and the story plods along.  That’s mostly how the beginning of the book plays out.  Of course the islanders are unhappy they’re trapped, of course they can’t get off the island, of course everyone’s getting sick and dying.  It isn’t until the people that aren’t sick begin to get violent and loot the town that the story really begins to pick up the pace.

But as the island is dying, Crewe does a fantastic job of building both familial tension and an atmosphere of fear on the island.  She shows how some characters, like Kaelyn, can be survivors while others, like Gav, can turn into leaders.  Honestly, Gav might have been my favorite character. He takes initiative, responsibility, and control throughout the story in a number of ways, taking care of his friends and himself as well as the island.  Watching Kaelyn and Gav’s budding romance was one of my favorite parts of this novel.

Then there’s Tessa, Leo’s girlfriend, whose parents went on vacation and didn’t make it back before the quarantine.  While she seems happy to be living on her own, the truth is that she needs Kaelyn as much as she needs her garden.  As the island slowly loses communications, gas, and power the girls learn how to survive in a world where the islanders’ own fear, and not this virus, might be what brings them down.

Once I hit the halfway point, I plowed through the rest of this book.  I just couldn’t put it down.  The letter style makes the story a fast read, and let’s Crewe explain some things to us she wouldn’t otherwise be able to.  If you can get through the first seventy pages, which are slow but not boring, the rest of this book will fly by.

Notable Scene:

“You can’t do that!” she yelled, sounding way too fierce for a seven-year-old.  “Nothing in there belongs to you! Leave that store alone!”

I’d known she was sad, but that was the first time I realized she might be pissed off too.

I caught up with her as Quentin spun around.  For a second he looked uncertain, and then he sneered at us. I could almost see his hackles rising, like one of his ferrets when they’re startled.

“You got a problem?” he said, waving the board.  “You want to talk about it?”

“No,” I said, clamping my hand around Meredith’s elbow and backing away. “Do whatever you want.”

“Good,” he said. “ ‘Cause otherwise I might have to smash a few more things.”

FTC Advisory: Disney/Hyperion provided me with a copy of The Way We Fall.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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