Monday, September 12, 2011

Fallen


Fallen is a YA supernatural novel by Lauren Kate.

I want to acknowledge the fact that a lot of you may have already read this book - I know I'm late to the game. But when Passion came out in June (the third book in the Fallen series) I found myself in a position to finally read these novels. Better late than never, right?

So, what is the basic, spoiler-free synopsis of the plot?

Luce, a seventeen-year-old honor student, is haunted by what happened to the first boy she had a real, serious crush on. Not only by the events that cost him his life, but by what she saw that night - the very same dark shadows that have continued to hover in the water and elsewhere for years, to the point that she knew she had to shut up about them - or else she'd be on anti-psychotics by now. They were there that night - before the fire.

Of course, she couldn't explain that to the police. It wouldn't help her case any to appear crazy on top of already being the only suspect in a possible arson. Instead, Luce finds herself sent to Sword & Cross boarding school in Savannah, Georgia - a reform school. Definitely not a place she ever thought she'd end up.

There's no cell phones, security cameras watching their every move, long, excruciating classes with unenthusiastic teachers, and a bevy of threatening, possibly dangerous fellow students - some of which even wear shock bracelets.

But one student catches her eye almost immediately - Daniel Grigori. The superficial reason is obvious - he's flat out gorgeous with golden hair, gray eyes speckled with violet, and an admittedly nice physique. Yet that's not the only reason Luce can't keep her eyes off of him... He just seems so familiar. So much so, that Luce feels herself inexplicably drawn to him like a moth to a flame - despite his disinterest and apparent dislike of her.

Another student, green-eyed Cam, actually seems to genuinely like her and have an interest in her as she navigates the ways of such a strange, lonely school like Sword & Cross - she actually starts to make a few friends. But no matter how nice and good-looking Cam is, Luce can't stop trying to figure out what Daniel is hiding...

And that very well may be Luce's doom...

Alrighty, first off I must say how eye-catching and lovely the cover of Fallen is! And each cover after that in the Fallen series (Torment, Passion), are just as great. I don't mention covers often, because I like to focus on the contents of the book - but when one is this cool, I gotta mention it! :)

The start of Fallen was extremely interesting to me - it had a darker tone than I initially expected as Luce entered this dank, hopeless-feeling, suffocating reform school. I almost immediately liked Luce - she's down-to-earth, self-aware, damaged, and fascinating as a main character. Plus, her past makes her sympathetic but not an object of pity. She felt fresh, what with not being superhuman confident nor a blubbering mess of insecurity.

All the more reason to be affected by her first meeting with Daniel. For all of you fellow book addicts who have yet to read Fallen, I don't want to give away even the small scenes of this novel - but I will say that I felt her hurt and shock. And to have such an intense, almost obsession-like magnetism toward Daniel, a guy that seems to so obviously want nothing to do with her - the pain is palpable, as well as the confusion. Because, yet again, Luce is conscious of how unhealthy her focus on him is - and though she can't seem to disconnect herself from it, she wonders why she is so attached to him. Excellent.

Tonally, Fallen also scored high for me. It felt so different - despite maybe some comparisons to Twilight or other paranormal sagas. It is actually an entirely original story and done with a larger intent on mystery. I was very, very into it and the pages were flying. In fact, I read Fallen in two days - now considering the novel is 452 pages and I was working full-time each day, that is saying something!

At it's core, for me, Fallen is a romantic mystery thriller with a phenomenally unique setting and astonishing, deep character development. The pure, raw anguish that Lauren Kate portrayed was done so well - sometimes subtle, sometimes overt. Many shocks and risks, in my opinion, were taken in the final 100 pages that paid off enormously for me and convinced me that this is much more than a story about a hapless girl obsessed with an attractive, brooding boy.

Fallen is absorbing, hypnotic, surprising, suspenseful and eerie. I found it to be a fantastic, enveloping opening to a YA fantasy series. I am only relieved to know that Torment and Passion are on my shelves ready to be devoured just as quickly. That's one of the good things about joining a series late in the game - less waiting! :)

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