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I Belong

Review: Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

TitleFalling Under

AuthorGwen Hayes

Genre: YA Paranormal

Series: Falling Under (Book 1)

Publication Date: March 1, 2011

Format: Trade Paperback, 336 Pages

ISBN-10: 0451232682 (Penguin Group/NAL)

ISBN-13: 978-0451232687 (Penguin Group/NAL)


In her dreams he’s irresistible—seductive, charming, and undoubtedly dangerous. But when he appears to her when she’s awake—and captivates her just the same—she’s not sure which way is up and which is down.

Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life, not allowed the same freedoms as the rest of the teenagers in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, she feels every urge she’s ever denied burning through her at the slightest glance from Haden Black. Theia knows she’s seen Haden before—not around town, but in her dreams.

Theia doesn’t understand how she dreamed of Haden before they ever met, but every night has them joined in a haunting world of eerie fantasy. And as the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her forward one moment and pushes her away the next, the only thing Theia knows for sure is that the incredible pull she feels towards him is stronger than her fear. And as she slowly discovers what Haden truly is, Theia’s not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul.

Quick & Dirty: A wonderful plot and engaging characters mixed with mayhem and a fascinating Under realm make this a delicious and highly entertaining read.

Opening Sentence: Everything changed the night I saw the burning man fall from the sky.

Excerpt: Chapter 1

The Review:

In the small town of Serendipity Falls, Theia Alderson lives a sheltered life.  In her dreams, Theia is pursued by a dangerous yet seductive stranger.  The surroundings are unfamiliar because Theia has fallen Under.  In the Under realm, her irresistible suitor shows her things that Theia can hardly fathom.  Theia’s dreams soon become reality when her dark suitor, Haden Black, shows up as the new student in her school.  As their connection grows stronger, Theia has trouble resisting Haden and the horrifying world of Under.  Now that she has fallen under his spell, will she be able to save her soul?

I didn’t know what I expected when I set out to read Falling Under.  I never read reviews for books that I’m interested in because I hate spoilers.  I was intrigued by the synopsis.  In any case, I would have read the book based solely on its beautiful cover.  Even though things start slowly, the story still managed to hold my attention.  I’m pleased to say that Falling Under ended up being one of the best YA novels that I’ve read this year.  Falling Under is an edgy and layered world filled with danger and despair.  This darkly riveting story is intense and certainly stands on its own in the YA paranormal genre.  Ms. Hayes exposes the reader to a macabre world and all its dangers.  The world-building is truly inventive and the characters are intriguing.  The powerful sexual and emotional undertones give this story an edge that you rarely see in a YA novel.

One of the many exciting elements of the story is Theia’s forbidden relationship with Haden.  Theia knows that she’s placing herself in grave danger, both emotionally and physically, but the connection that she shares with Haden is undeniable.  Theia and Haden exchange some pretty risqué dialogue.  The attraction, teasing and wordplay between these two is completely enthralling.  Without a doubt, Haden is the strongest character in the book.  The unbeatable combination of the dark, twisted, sexual and dangerous makes for a wonderfully complex male lead.  Ms. Hayes delivers richly detailed characterizations, pulling the reader “under” with ease.

Theia has realistic flaws, which makes her interesting, but there’s nothing to really set her apart from other protagonists in the crowded YA paranormal genre.  I was left with just a so-so impression of Theia.  I liked her character, but I didn’t love her character.  I do sympathize with her struggles to shape her own identity and break free from her father’s death grip.  Theia was raised by her father in a very regimented, sterile and structured environment.  Her “Father” is very cold and Type A, bordering on sociopathic.  For the most part, I like the fact that Theia was a very mature and practical young adult.  She did have a few moments of girl weaknesses and became obsessed about being with Haden a la Bella’s feelings toward Edward in New Moon.  Needless to say, at this point I wanted to slit my own wrists.  I think the “obsession” trope in YA novels is often heavy-handed, misplaced and unnecessarily overwrought.  Generally speaking, it can only be resolved one or two ways.  The heroine has a ridiculous epiphany that leads her to conclude that she is an individual with her own personality and life goals before she met her otherworldly hottie, and that life will go on and aforementioned otherworldly hottie will not objectify her and define her self-worth.  Alternatively, she will forsake everything to get her dangerous, worthless, and good-for-nothing otherworldly hottie who turns out to be the good guy in disguise.  Don’t let this plot point deter you because there are many other good elements to this story and the ending will surprise you.

Falling Under is a fantastic debut novel.  The story is beautifully written and there’s plenty of suspense and intrigue.  Falling Under is a highly addictive entry in the YA paranormal genre.  I can hardly wait to fall Under the spell of the next installment.

Notable Scene:

And I hungered for something elusive, yet the air was thick with the promise of it.

It surprised me, the new potent feeling.  And it was the surprise that frightened me more than the actual rush of hormones.  I couldn’t control feelings that came out of nowhere.

I leaned against the rail and my heart stopped.

Haden watched me from below as he led a nimble blonde onto the floor of gyrating teenagers.  She stared at him, awestruck like he was some kind of rock star.  God, I thought she might be right.  He murmured something into her ear, but he smiled at me –the kind of smile that signals the demise of the canary to the whims of the cat.

He hooked one arm around her waist and raised a brow to me.  I wanted to hate him; the burn seared my heart.  When he turned her to face me, my breath caught in my throat.  She had no idea he was using her as a pawn to assert his control over me, but I’m not sure she would have minded even if she had known.  I doubt, had the tables been turned, I would have cared.  To be enveloped in his arms, surrounded by his scent, guided through a dance by his steady hands…No, I would gladly have played marionette to his puppet master too.

She ground against him, not unlike Donny but without Donny’s finesse.  Or charm, for that matter.  But I suppose charm wasn’t what that kind of dancing was really about.  I tightened my grip on the rail if not my emotions, but nothing could make me look away.  He’d trapped me in his sinful gaze designed to weaken my will, to raise the stakes in the battle for my heart.  Maybe my soul.  He wanted me to know what I was missing even as he made it clear I couldn’t have it.  And I was depraved enough to let him.

Haden gripped the blonde’s hips, holding her firmly against his pelvis.  She let her head fall to the side, exposing the long white column of her neck.  He sent me one more evil grin and kissed her neck.

My knees buckled.  I felt the sensation of his lips on my skin.  The kiss felt like a shock that started on my neck and traveled on my nerve endings all the way down to my toes.  His hand skimmed slowly from her hip to her stomach…my stomach.  As the sensation crept slowly towards my breasts, my breath hitched.

The Falling Under Series:

1. Falling Under

You can visit Gwen around the web here: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

FTC Advisory: Penguin Group provided me with a copy of Falling Under.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.  In addition, I don’t receive affiliate fees for anything purchased via links from my site.

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Review: Falling Under by Gwen Hayes, 9.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
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3 Responses to “Review: Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

  1. CarolineNo Gravatar

    This book looks awesome…its on my TBR list, can’t wait to read it….loved your review-makes me want to read it even more :)

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  2. Midnyte ReaderNo Gravatar

    This premise *is* intriguing. And the cover is gorgeous. I would definitely read it. Thanks for the great review.

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  3. Helena SparrowNo Gravatar

    The authors at vampsrus really love your blog. You do a fantastic job with the reviews and especially the ARC project. As a reward for all you do, we would like to honor your blog with an award. This award does not take any extra work, we just wanted to acknowledge all the hard work you do. :)

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