Author: Lauren Kate
Genre: YA Paranormal
Publication Date: December 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 464 Pages
ISBN-10: 0385738935 (Delacorte)
ISBN-13: 978-0385738934 (Delacorte)
There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.
Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.
Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.
Quick & Dirty: Ultimately this tale isn’t captivating and lacks a real villain.
Opening Sentence: Around midnight, her eyes at last took shape.
Marketing almost sold me on this book, but the book itself couldn’t close the deal. With a beautiful cover, the promise of a tragic love story, a creepy, gothic boarding school setting, and fallen angels, I expected a compelling read. Unfortunately, Fallen is a disappointment.
Fallen’s protagonist, Luce, is a suspected arsonist, and claims that she’s constantly stalked by malevolent shadows. Her parents, at their breaking point, send her to Sword & Cross, a boarding school. Once at Sword & Cross, Luce battles the typical “new girl” problems and immediately catches the eye of two hot guys at the school. She finds herself drawn to the mysterious Daniel and is determined to find out more about him and his past.
Fallen is a flawed novel and I had to struggle to finish. Fallen was crafted in such a way as to make the story predictable and ultimately doing little to keep the reader engaged. I knew Fallen was a series so I didn’t expect the overall story arc to unfold at a breakneck pace, but I did expect something to actually happen. The pacing of the story is slow with little to no action. In my opinion, a lot of the chapters that were written really didn’t do much to move the plot forward.
I think the most damning aspect for me is the author’s inversion of the Show vs. Tell concept. Meaning, Ms. Kate did more telling than showing me what I needed as a reader. Daniel and Luce are supposed to have this amazing connection and be hopelessly in love, yet none of this is shown to the reader. Ms. Kate didn’t establish enough background about Daniel and Luce’s relationship to make this a believable or particularly compelling love story. I never established an emotional connection with the characters and their plights simply didn’t resonate with me. The dialog was flat and character descriptions were inconsistent. There wasn’t enough worldbuilding and as a result the story suffered.
My second gripe concerns the lack of characterization. The difficulty in writing immortal/supernatural characters for a sophisticated audience is that you have to respect their reality. For an immortal character, Daniel certainly lacks imagination, maturity, skill and purpose. His brooding and skulking around didn’t make me believe that he was dangerous or a bad boy for that matter. Luce came off as a creepy stalker, pathetic, naïve, weak, and at times really annoying. The narrative voices of the secondary characters aren’t particularly unique. With no real character development and growth, it was hard to care about them. I’m not sure if I will invest the time to read the second book in the series, Torment, because Fallen did not grab me.
Overall, Fallen falls prey to clichés. It’s all buildup with no climax, and that left me more frustrated than satisfied. Ms. Kate seems to have left key elements of the story for later installments, and a bevy of plot devices weakened the story. With little depth to the characters or plot, I fear some seasoned and savvy readers of the genre will have a hard time falling for Fallen.
She looked up into a maelstrom of shadows. A spectrum of shades of gray and deepest black. She should only be able to see as far as the ceiling overhead, but the shadows seemed somehow to extend beyond its limits. Into a strange and hidden sky. They were all tangled up in each other, and yet they were distinct.
FTC Advisory: I purchased a copy of this book. In addition, I don’t receive affiliate fees for anything purchased via links from my site.
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