by Lauren Kate
Reviewed by Amanda Peake
Lauren Kate is an international bestselling author. Her novel, Fallen, spent over a year at the top of both the national and international bestseller lists. The Fallen Series has become very well-known the world over and has been translated into 30 languages. The sequel to Fallen, Torrment ranked number one on New York Times bestselling list for over eight months. Fans and critics alike hail Kate as “the voice from the shadows”.
I rarely review bestsellers because so many others already have. I like to dig through the shelves of a used book store and stumble upon a book I've never heard of and hopefully fall in love with the words written between the cover. With that being said, Fallen crazily captivated me from the prologue to the very last sentence.
The story starts with the prologue titled IN THE BEGINNING… It's set in Helston, England in September of 1854. The scene is about a man and woman who are in love but shouldn't be. I was especially taken by the last page of the prologue: Their Kiss... He knew... He saw the spark of recognition... then there was nothing, nothing at all.
Then we promptly switch to present day. Our narrator is also the main character, Lucinda or Luce for short. She's being introduced to The Sword and Cross boarding school, a reform boarding school that’s out of date, as most of the buildings are from the Civil War era. The staff members are called Reds and all the students are dressed like the dead in all black. We are rushed through the opening welcome and quickly learn the rules: no cellphones, no leaving campus at all, no summer or spring break, and only school scheduled "socials" are permitted. Luce is at the school because she was involved with a fire at her last school that left her crush dead. She has no memory of how it all went down, so the details are super sketchy. Arriane is next on the scene. She's the skinny girl with the sassy mouth that knows everything about everyone and is widely popular. She takes Luce under her wing by "claiming" her and she escorts Luce around the school. Next up is Cam, the smooth talking, good looking, “big man on campus” who quickly finds every chance to grab at Luce's attention. Then we "meet" Daniel whom Luce quickly shares an intense stare down and just as fast crush on. Daniel is aloof and broody. He flips Luce off, and that is the start to her borderline obsessive behavior over Daniel. He is so hot and cold we spend the majority of the book wondering just who Daniel is and why is he so quiet? Penn, another character we meet, quickly becomes a loyal friend to Luce. Penn is the only student at this school who isn't there because she’s gotten in trouble. Her father was the groundskeeper until he passed away and now she is the most trusted student at the school, which comes in handy if you need to break in the school records room.
As the story progresses we find out that Luce is being chased by the shadow people. They are dark and seem to cause nothing but destruction in their wake. She's been chased by these things since she was twelve years old. We learn this about mid-way through the book and kind of randomly too. There is a fire where another student, Todd, dies. There are a lot of unknowns surrounding the fire, but the school seems to quickly brush it away, as does our author. However, Lauren Kate's writing is full of imagery and suspense. It was hard not to want to skip to the end and find out how it all turns out. Though, when I did that I still had more questions than answers.
My overall impression of this book was three out of five stars. While Kate has great imagery and suspense, the timing in the book is off. It's really fast in the beginning and then slows way down. The characters are connecting and we don't really have a reason of why they would be; it's awkward to read. Then it's dreadfully slow with the “does he like me or not”. The main characters are written in such a way that it's hard to understand why we should or shouldn’t like them. Luce for example lists her own greatest attributes as being super-smart and friendly. Yet she rarely goes to class? She's a good friend, but comes off as self-centered, walking off from friends and not showing up to meet them. She is supposed to be the love story heroine, but doesn't have a backbone at all. Daniel is constantly being a jerk to her yet she's helpless to say anything. Daniel's character is aloof and standoffish right off the bat. We know nothing about him or why he's so broody all the time. We don't know enough about him, yet we as readers are supposed to want him and Luce to get together. There’s not enough information for me to like or not like him.
The side characters are much more relatable. They are the girl next door, the mean girl, the guy who can get anything and everything, and the hopeless outsider who just needs a friend. Arriane is my favorite because she speaks her mind and seems not to give a fig about all Luce's inner turmoil over Daniel. She is sassy and dependable even when she acts the opposite. We actually get more of their stories than the three main characters. They all show up for each other and the main characters like friends should. I have reason to support them in their quest or desires.
Like I previously stated, it's not a bad book to read by any means. I'll probably read the rest of them at some point. When you have the extra five dollars, this book is definitely worth that price tag. If Lauren Kate ever writes a book about Arriane, I'll be one of the first to pre-order.
Go grab a book or your kindle and tell me what impresses you. Happy Reading!!