September 5, 2012


FALLEN by Lauren Kate (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2009)
GENRE: Paranormal Romance
AGE: 13 and up

Every once and awhile, an extraordinary book comes along, one that breaks new ground, re-envisioning tropes long since tapped dry and changing the landscape of a genre. Fallen is not one of those books. 

Stomping over the ground Stephanie Meyers cleared with Twlight, Fallen is the story of seventeen-year-old Luce, sentenced to reform school after a boy she likes dies in a fire. Less than 24 hours after arriving at Sword & Cross, she is already torn between two preternaturally hot guys - smooth, sweet Cam, and moody, GORGEOUS Daniel (forgive the caps, but it was the only way to communicate the degree to which Luce lingers, in Bella Swan style, on Daniel's rippling perfection). Though Luce herself is anxious, socially weak and easily cowed (not a fantastic role-model), she finds herself in the middle of an enviable love-triangle, but though Cam is tempting, she is overwhelmed by her attraction to Daniel, who is, of course, beyond hostile so that he might protect Luce from their epically shared past.

Hindered dramatically by an enormous amount of interruptive, repetitious description, (most readers don't need multiple reminders that something happened just pages before), Fallen is much longer than the slender narrative requires. Though the concept compelling enough, one gets the sense that Kate didn't make the most of her material - there is very little in Fallen that doesn't directly mirror some aspect of Twilight, from lingering love-sick descriptions to the fact that Daniel, once his love is declared, makes huge sweeping decisions for Luce while she gratefully accepts. Though the climax is action-packed and exciting, the romance between Daniel and Luce never takes off - a frustration given the amount of time Kate spends trying to convince readers of it's gravity. Many loose ends, such as why angels are at a reform school to begin with, are left hanging, presumably to be answered in the sequel.

All of that said, Fallen does move, and though there are a shocking number of eye-rolling moments, the basic elements work well enough to give the story a certain appeal. Bella and Edward... pardon me - Luce and Daniel... might be little more than cardboard on the page, but the pages do turn, thanks mostly to the unanswered questions scattered throughout the book. Fallen, though weak in its own right, may prove to be the start of a strong, compelling series. If nothing else, its popularity is testament to the fact that people are reading and loving it, if only to get a Twlight-esque fix.

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