Fallen, by Lauren Kate
January 7, 2010
Fallen is about a girl who goes to a new school and meets two guys. One is ethereally beautiful and perfect but mostly ignores her or is rude to her when he isn’t giving her just enough scraps of attention to keep her interested. The other is nice and attentive, so she strings him along while keeping her mind firmly on Mr. Unattainable. She also makes some friends, but she ditches them quite a bit too, because, well, there’s this guy. And he’s hot. So very, very hot. Oh, and there’s some supernatural stuff.
The main characters are thin as paper and less interesting. There’s no sense of why any of them like each other beyond that they’re fated to do so. It’s dull.
We’re told at one point that the heroine, Luce, is this super smart teen, but at no point in the story does she actually display this. Her trips to the library are all about stalking the hottie, she shows no particular interest or ability the few times we see her in class, and she doesn’t engage in any intellectual hobbies during the story. She certainly shows little intelligence or perception when it comes to her decision making. She seems like a fairly generic anygirl, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But towards the end she has this rant about her GPA and her crossword puzzle habit, it comes totally out of left field.
Through most of the book, mystery comes in the form of creepy shadows and the questionable behavior of Luce’s fellow reform school students. There’s also the occasional mysterious fire, the origins of which weren’t explained. Luce spends most of the book as an observer, with no understanding of the events around her. This would have been easier to take if she spent her time trying to understand the shadows, the fires, or the things about her new school that just don’t add up, but Luce doesn’t do that. She spends her time investigating the dream boy instead, and gets exactly nowhere in that search. Eventually he just tells her the answers to some of her questions, and she stumbles over a key clue just in time to support his story.
Of course he doesn’t tell her everything she needs or wants to know, because that would kill her. No, seriously, the slow-as-snails pace of reveals in this book are handwaved away with the excuse that it’s just too much for poor, fragile little Luce and she’d die if she doesn’t learn things gradually. So after having finished Fallen, I still know almost nothing about the supernatural side of that world.
The author has some talent for description, and I liked the way that the developed the atmosphere of certain scenes. But that isn’t enough to make the rest of it worthwhile. Maybe there will be more of otherworldly interest in the second book, but I doubt I’ll bother finding out.