Monday, 23 November 2009

Review - Fallen / Lauren Kate

Summary- 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.

Review - Fallen. Many good things have spilled forth about this paranormal romance and yet it left me a little bereft. It ticks all the boxes for factors most teen readers are looking for in a read; conflicted lead, moody love interest, cheery love interest, slightly bizarre friends, a paranormal mystery and enough conversation segues to derail a train. Communication seems to be a giant issue in teen books, teen girls quite happy to sit back and accept “I can’t talk about it”, “you’re not ready” or “it will kill you (literally) to find out”. Here’s the thing - this kind of guy (Daniel) doesn’t intrigue me, he annoys me beyond belief and makes me want to cause him bodily harm. When these conversations occur over and over again, I have to wonder if the author is working to a word count rather than worrying about the pacing of their story.

Lauren Kate is a writer who obviously knows what she doing. I have to question her editor though. A good fifty pages should have been culled from this novel, specifically the first quarter which felt like dragging a towel through a mud pit - slow, gluggy and a little painful. The truth is Luce isn’t all that interesting. Once the initial revelation of her night of fiery passion is voiced to the audience, there’s very little left of interest. She’s vanilla. Very white, very bland and sweet. Luce has also been reincarnated over and over again and apparently this is her most sparky version. Really? This was her at her most “sparky”, excuse me while I snigger.

Paranormal triangles are a blight on the YA landscape and Fallen is true to form. Cliché city - the two that are destined for one another are just that “destined”. That’s all that’s interesting about them. We don’t know why they love each other just that they do. It is lazy writing at its clearest. Luce swims like a fish - he loves that about her. Yawn. While someone might point out that more will be revealed in the forthcoming sequel, I don’t care. If your first novel centres about the love that exists, make it interesting from the fore. Steamy? Moderately so, they can’t kiss because she’ll die. Sound familiar? Sigh. Cheery guy? Well he’s not that interesting either and his intent is pretty clear from the beginning. You always know who you are supposed to root for but I fall firmly into Team Ambivalent (or Team Penn).

Interesting characters....there are some, though you wouldn’t know it from the above paragraph. Penn is fabulously geeky in all her divine ways and she makes Luce more interesting by being in her orbit. She’s layered, hilarious, sneaky and dealing with social anxiety that is nicely realised. Having this novel be about Penn’s observations of these assorted characters arrive in her home would have been so much more interesting, engaging and all round awesome that I want to cry just thinking of it. Arianne is an interesting character too but her role is pretty clear. Her feistiness is welcomed as there is plenty of testosterone and it’s good to see that equality serves though at the Sword and Cross.

To say I was underwhelmed would be an understatement. Fallen angel novels are becoming "the in thing" at the moment and I wish characterisation were as important as a brilliant premise as I am being continually disappointed. Fallen will sell by the bucket load but all it did for me was make me wonder how someone be so passive? I don’t need my protagonist to be pretty or smart or courageous but I do need something to empathise with and this didn’t happen with Luce. I didn’t feel sympathy for her either and considering her predicament, this speaks more for the book than it does for me.

Published: October 2009
Format: Paperback, 464 pages
Publisher: Random House Aust.
Source of Review Copy: publisher
Origin: USA


Rhiannon Hart said...

Blaaaaargh, passive heroines. Another Bella carbon copy. I don't think I'll bother with this one.

kate.o.d said...

thank you for posting an honest, and thoughtful, review. i haven't seen this one yet, will have to take a look at it when it comes in. i'm sure that there'll be people who'll like this one. but i have to agree with you that the fallen angel thing is not so far removed from the vampire thing. and the zombie thing (tho i loved generation dead!) blurg! something new please!

Noella said...

Fallen sounds disappointing :( I agree with you, characterisation is so important! I wonder if more authors are going to write about fallen angels! (I was kind of disappointed in Hush, Hush because I couldn't connect with any character.)

Anonymous said...

Another fallen book about a fallen angel. I wonder if we'll see more books of inanimate lust between a formless girl and the fallen jerk, or if something of more substance will come along instead.

But man, these bland and passive girl MCs are annoying - and worrying.

Thao said...

Love your honest and balanced review : )

Tez Miller said...

Allen & Unwin? I thought it was Random House. Maybe I got confused with the US version?

Donna Gambale said...

Great review - Thanks for being fair and honest!

Anonymous said...

Your reviews are super well written. I had a feeling this book was going to have a few of the cliches that you mentioned. I'm still gonna check it out though. Thanks for your review, it was a real pleasure to read. :D

Unknown said...

Oh no, how disappointing. I have this to review and just assumed that I would love it. But now, I'm a little doubtful. Really enjoyed the honesty in your review!

Lenore Appelhans said...

I thought this could go either way, and I was just waiting for your opinion on which way it went.

The Book Owl said...

How upsetting. :( Lazy writing drives me crazy. Thanks for the honest review.

DarkWingedWolf said...

I actually really liked the book.

While I'll agree that Luce was a tad dull, I think the story-line was pretty unique and different enough to hold my attention and entice me. She was also much more interesting and relatable than Bella of Twilight, I must argue. I'd think something like 'Wow, it would be really smart if Luce did this', and she would do it. There were close to no moments where I was screaming at the novel like men do at the television during a football game (opposed to Twilight, which had me slamming my head against the wall at certain points)

I must also argue with Adele's comment that "Fallen angel novels are becoming 'the in thing'" I fail to see that. I would agree with her if she said that 'supernatural novels' are 'the in thing', but I've seldom come across angel novels. Vampire novels I have seen by the stacks, but not books on angels/demons.

While the love story line does seem fairly cliche, I think the majority of the audiance that read this review would actually enjoy reading the book.