This is going to be an interesting review, because I have enormously mixed feelings about this book. You have been warned!
Most people who are involved in the young adult book scene have at least heard of the Fallen books by Lauren Kate. I escaped the phenomenon for a while, but finally stumbled upon a copy of the first book in the series, Fallen, at my local library and decided that it was time for me to see what the fuss is about – and to decide for myself whether I fell into the pro- or anti-Fallen crowd. The verdict? I’m not really in either.
I think there’s a good book here. Unfortunately, it’s hidden beneath about two hundred pages worth of unnecessary writing and obscured by a surprising lack of explanation about why characters are the way they are and why events happen the way they do. It makes me wonder a little about what the original manuscript for Fallen looked like, because the final product reads like it could have used a good editor.
Don’t get me wrong. There are things to like about Fallen. Despite being an absolute brick of a book, it reads quite quickly, and whenever I picked it up, I happily read a good chunk of it before putting it back down. I also really enjoyed Arriane and Gabbe as characters. I’m always up for a book set in a boarding school – although I was disappointed that the exciting reform school element didn’t pay off for me – and I thought that Kate managed to evoke a very good sense of place in the novel. Although it annoyed me a little that things weren’t explained as well as they should have been, I nonetheless came away from Fallen feeling genuinely curious about the premise and I would probably pick up the second book in the series if I found it in the local library.
On the other hand, there are a lot of things that I didn’t like, as well. I’m never a fan of insta-love, and the fated nature of Daniel and Luce’s attraction didn’t do enough to change my feelings on that trope. I thought Luce, Daniel and Cam were all very flat as characters, and that Penn could have been better developed into someone the reader could care more deeply about. Most of all, though, I feel like Fallen is missing an awful lot of WHY. Things kept happening, and there never seemed to be much of a reason given for them. Why do Luce and Daniel always fall in love without any real interaction or commonality? Why is a reform school filled with fallen angels? Why does everyone immediately flock to Luce the moment she starts school? You get the idea.
In the end, I didn’t feel like I’d wasted my time reading all 452 pages of Fallen. It didn’t change my life, but it was a pleasant enough read – and I’ll quite probably end up reading Torment as well, if only in the hope of finding a few answers for the questions that Fallen left me with.