Author: Lauren Kate
Pub. Date: December 2009
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Age Range: Young Adult
Synopsis/Teaser: Ever since she was a little girl, Luce Price has been followed by shadows that no one else can see. They haunt her, frighten her, chill her– but she’s been forced to admit that she doesn’t see them any more, lest her parents think her insane. Now, after a horrible incident involving the shadows, Luce has been accused of setting a fire that killed a boy she liked. Luce is sent to the remote Sword and Cross reform school, where she meets Daniel Grigori: a gorgeous guy who seems to want to avoid her at all costs. There’s something else about Daniel that draws Luce to him, though. She can’t help thinking that she knows him, even though they’ve never met outside of Sword and Cross. Daniel continues giving Luce the cold shoulder, but Luce is still attracted to him– and the shadows continue to track her and tear her life apart.
Review: Let me be frank. This book reminded me an awful lot of Twilight. The premise of a girl who goes to a new school and meets a really good-looking guy who ignores her and leaves our heroine star-struck just seems a little too close. And then there’s the paranormal element. I thought I was reading the same book for a while, but the plot eventually changed– still, though. But, I’ll be frank about this, too: I didn’t enjoy the Twilight Saga much, but I liked Fallen. Fallen has a certain unique spark to it, and it’s backed up with Lauren Kate’s writing skills. It may just be following the paranormal-romance craze of the moment, but Fallen definitely has something different.
Kate’s descriptions of Sword and Cross were great. I felt like I was right there. The horrible school was almost Roald Dahl-like in its near ridiculous treatment of students. Though the book is told in the third person, I felt included in the story– something that rarely happens. Kate includes all of the right details to stir up the atmosphere and suck the reader in. Most of the characters were original and well-rounded enough to pop off the page. Daniel Grigori, though, was your run-of-the-mill paranormal-romance love interest. His impeccable good looks, slightly arrogant personality, and mysterious past were nothing new. Towards the end, Fallen turned into a real page-turner, an element that I didn’t expect. The action and well-done plot sets it apart from other books of its kind. All-around paranormal/fantasy fans should be able to appreciate it.
I feel obligated to say that Fallen contains some religious elements that may bother some readers– think Christian and Jewish mythology twisted around, like a fairy tale retelling. I certainly didn’t mind it– I thought it was a good take– but others might.
On the surface, Fallen is just another trendy YA paranormal romance, but if you dig a little deeper and give it a chance, you’ll find a nugget of something shiny and new. It’s worth a read for fans of the genre.
Recommended for: Fans of paranormal/romance a la “Twilight” who want something a little different and more well-rounded.
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 possible stars