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I Belong


Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

Title: Fallen

Author: Lauren Kate

Genre: YA Paranormal

Publication Date: December 8, 2009

Format: Hardcover, 464 Pages

ISBN-10: 0385738935 (Delacorte)

ISBN-13: 978-0385738934 (Delacorte)

Synopsis (Goodreads):

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.

Excerpt: Here

The Review:

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.

Notable Scene:

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.

You can visit Lauren around the web here: Website | Blog | TwitterFacebook | Book Site

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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Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate, 9.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
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9 Responses to “Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

  1. LivianiaNo Gravatar
    1

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who hated FALLEN!

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  2. Life After JaneNo Gravatar
    2

    The cover of this book keeps calling to me while the reviews scare me off. Maybe I should just get the poster.

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  3. BellaNo Gravatar
    3

    I have to agree with EVERYTHING you had to say!!! I’m so glad to find someone else who thought this book failed in pretty much every way possible … I also wrote a long LONG review on my blog about all of its shortcomings, but you’ve done an excellent job putting all of them into far less words! I just don’t understand why other people are so floored by this novel, really. I wouldn’t even have read it finished, but, unlike you, I didn’t know that it was a part of a series, and thought we’d have a little resolution at the end … no such luck.

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  4. JuneNo Gravatar
    4

    I’ve read these sentiments expressed by a number of other reviewers as well. There are some YA books, particularly of the paranormal variety that are okay, but they are not all that, as the hype would have you believe. I’m realizing, the reader has to be careful not to fall prey to the publishing marketing machine. It’s all about a good and well told story. And watch out for the sway of awesome cover art with nothing between the pages to back it up!

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  5. mummazappaNo Gravatar
    5

    i agree with all your cricicisms re character development, pacing and show vs tell, but actually i found the end to be ok and the epilogue left me really intrigued and wanting to read more. its funny the way some books i know are not great and yet i can’t stay away!

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  6. HeatherNo Gravatar
    6

    Thanks for the honest review. I love the cover and it has made me pick the book up more than once in the store. I never have made it to the register with it yet though…

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  7. TabithaNo Gravatar
    7

    I found your review on Amazon, and I’m glad for the opportunity to say more here (I’m being stalked by an obnoxious poster on the Amazon forums – she insults me every time I comment on anyone’s review of Fallen, and Amazon doesn’t seem to care).

    Anyway, I agree with everything you pointed out about this book. The lack of Showing, the stock characters, the flat romance, contrived plot, etc. There is no depth to this story. If there had been, we would have come away with a clear understanding of, as well as strong feelings for, the relationship between Daniel and Luce. But that stayed on the surface – Luce only notices that a few of Daniel’s expressions seem familiar. What about his habits? Likes? Dislikes? If she truly loved him, she would inexplicably know these things, too.

    The cover is so beautiful, and I wanted to like this story, but it just did not live up to the marketing surrounding it.

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  8. AngelaNo Gravatar
    8
    Author Comment

    Hi Tabitha,

    I appreciate you reaching out. Sorry you have an internet stalker. I wanted to hit the main points in my review, but I did have several other things that I didn’t like about Fallen, and this impacted my rating of the book. I gave an honest review and it’s not my intention to dump on the author or the book. I think it’s important for potential readers to know why Fallen didn’t work for me. One of the things that I touched on a bit in my review was purpose. Meaning, goal, motivation and conflict. These things simply didn’t match up or were missing altogether. Book series require the skill and ability to lay the foundation of the plot, goal, motivation and conflict out in the first book. If this isn’t done correctly, it will be hard to maintain a reading base. Word of mouth is a beast to defeat.

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  9. TabithaNo Gravatar
    9

    It’s not my intention to beat up on the book or author, either. I’m sorting through the things that don’t work in this story because I’m studying the craft of writing. And I want to learn what not to do. :) I think your review was worded in a very objective manner, that focused only on the work and not the author.

    You’re so right about laying the foundation in the first book. By the end of Fallen, I felt like half of the foundation had been laid, leaving the reader in a precarious position. If I felt I was on solid ground and knew more about Luce and Daniel’s history, then I might feel more compelled to read the next book. But I feel that the second book is going to have basically the same conflict as the first, and that doesn’t really interest me.

    BTW, I love your review format. Your opening line and notable scene give your readers a nice glimpse into the book – so even if you didn’t like it, they might. Nice touch.

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