Saturday, November 28, 2009

Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

Tags: YA, paranormal, fallen angels, love triangle, boarding school


When 17-year-old Luce Price enters Sword & Cross reform boarding school in Savannah, Georgia, she is immediately attracted to the aloof, gorgeous, and strangely achingly familiar Daniel Grigori. Luce could swear she feels a connection with him, but Daniel rebuffs all her attempts to get to know him better, and even though another hot guy named Cam is paying her a lot of attention, Luce still can’t Daniel out of her mind.

Little does Luce know that Daniel is trying to stay away from her for both of their sakes. For they are irrevocably connected by a cruel curse—one that will kill Luce if she gets too close to Daniel…


If FALLEN is the future of YA supernatural fiction, then I fear for this genre. FALLEN is painfully dull and slow, with very little besides the concept of fallen angels and the suggestion of an impossible romance to recommend it to readers.

If the plot of FALLEN were to race a glacier, the glacier would win. From the moment Luce arrives at Sword & Cross, the plot feels like it’s always tripping over its own feet in order to explain itself, and to no avail. I don’t mind a gradually building plot if it contains atmosphere and sets up the exposition well, but the setting of Sword & Cross was never fully realized for me, and the events in Luce’s past that landed her at reform school never attained credibility. Luce floats through boarding school life in a series of disconnected and awkwardly written encounters with her schoolmates, none of which helped me understand Luce or any of the other characters. All of the action and scenes required to get the gist of the story occurred within the last 60 pages, and what happened was not worth plodding through 400 pages of irrelevance to get to that point.

All of the characters in FALLEN were static and artificial, something that less discerning Twilight-fangirling tweens won’t mind but that more well-read readers will definitely take issue with. Luce is about as passive as a bowl of rice pudding. You think Bella didn’t do anything for three-and-a-half 400-plus-page-long books? Luce just might make Bella look like head of the school spirit squad. She flits from scene to scene, never being fully integrated into the immediacy of the story and never coalescing into a comprehensive character. The thing I most remember about her was that she had short hair from when it got burnt off in a fire. If the way I describe a character is by the length of her hair and not any, I dunno, actual personality traits, you better believe that is a serious problem.

Along those same lines, Cam and Daniel were similarly bland male love interests whose only identifiable characteristic was their inexplicable—and inevitable, in this sort of book—attraction to Luce. I constantly got the two mixed up and couldn’t pick them out from a handful of YA male love interests if I had to. I am hardly questioning the appeal of stalker-y, unequal-power-dynamics love—there is a reason why so many of us love bad boys so much—but to have Cam and Daniel be so one-dimensional and predictable, while the story practically insists that we’re supposed to find them heart-stoppingly attractive…sorry, but I really don’t need that.

We’ve all heard the quiet rumblings that fallen angels might be the Next Big Thing in YA lit, but only if they’re done right. FALLEN read like a boarding school story with smatterings of the supernatural dashed throughout, the angels-and-demons element only manifesting itself in the final few chapters. It was a discomforting read because it was so detached from those elements of humanity that make even the most fantastical novel relatable: the Southern setting was never fully realized, and the characters were difficult to empathize with.

That being said, FALLEN gets two stars from me because I can totally see its appeal to middle school girls who have devoured the entire Twilight series and now desperately need something to read in between the next House of Night book and the Eclipse movie coming out in Summer 2010. It contains all the elements of a trendy YA bestseller: a paranormal element, a love triangle, two powerful love interests who compete for the same girl. Unfortunately, the great idea was poorly executed, and I won’t be following the rest of this series. However, consider asking your thirteen-year-old sister or cousin for her opinion on FALLEN, and you might get a totally different point of view, one that justifies why Random House believes that FALLEN will be huge in YA.

Similar Authors
Stephenie Meyer (Twilight)
P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast (House of Night series)

Writing: 2/5
Characters: 1/5
Plot: 1/5

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5

Cover discussion: 2.5 out of 5 - It', I guess? Definitely discombobulated and rather unrelated to the story--kind of like many scenes in the story itself, I suppose.

Delacorte / Dec. 8, 2009 / Hardcover / $17.99

ARC sent by publisher for review.

Comment on this review for an extra entry into my Lauren Kate giveaway.


  1. I've read several favorable reviews on this book. Nice to read an opposing view. I haven't read this yet, still thinking about it. :)

  2. Great honest review :)

    So far, all I've heard is good things about this book, but I'm glad that I've read this review. I haven't liked a lot of the YA books that have been getting a lot of hype lately, mostly because of the reasons you pointed out above--weak characters, slow plots, etc.

    Hmm. I'm not as excited to read this one anymore...

  3. As I mentioned last night on Twitter I had only ever read good things about this book so I was looking forward to your review. Your review confirmed what I had already decided on my own without having to read the book. Too many people compared it to Twilight in the romance/forbidden love sort of thing and since I dislike Twilight with a passion that rivals those who love it, I gave this book a pass. I am happy that I did. ;)

    Also, I am not really into the whole fallen angel theme. There's too much potential to go about it the wrong way. Bad enough someone messed with vampires and made them sparkle. ;)

    Also, I am a bad addicted to my google reader person and didn't notice until now that your blog had changed design! Oops. ;) I need to break out of my feed reader once in a while. I like this look a lot!

  4. Eeesh. I've seen some negative reviews on it but yours best explains why people don't like it. A sluggish plot with flat as a paper personalities? That doesn't sound too good...

  5. This is what I was afraid of, and the reason I still haven't picked it up. I really do NOT enjoy slooooow pacing and passive characters.

  6. Sorry you didn't like it! I've heard very mixed reviews about it and am excited to see what I think of it.

  7. "Luce just might make Bella look like head of the school spirit squad."

    LOL! Oh boy.

    While I'm not a big fan of the Twilight books, I'm sure my curiosity will get the better of me and I'll pick this up anyways. Still, it was nice to read a review on "the other side" after seeing so many 4-star/5-star reviews. So thanks for that!

    Also, I have an award for you over here! :)

  8. I've read quite a few negative reviews, yours actually gives me reasons why. I might give it a chance though.

  9. Ouchie! I've read several mixed but unfortunately inarticulate reviews of this book. You've certainly outlined the reasons why you didn't like it and I'd be happy to forget about this title if it wasn't for Lauren's positive review yesterday at I was a teenage book geek. So torn!!

    In my opinion fallen angels are a fad, soon to disappear. They don't have the staying power of vamps and the apocalypse.

  10. Thanks Steph, great to see a well thought out justification for why this book may not be worth a reader's time. I wasn't fond of this book either, though I did like Penn, but it wasn't enough to make it worth it.

    The point you made about the cover is great. What does it have to do with the story? Is it Luce in a previous life? Sigh.

  11. Fallen sounds draggy and about the action in the last 60 pages? I really like well developed characters and relationships and this sounds like a disappointment. This sounds a bit like Hush, Hush which I didn't really like (no connection with characters and 'stalker-y, unequal-power-dynamics love') I'm really not so excited after looking at reviews at Amazon. Have you seen them?
    Anyway, Thanks for the detailed review!

  12. If the plot of FALLEN were to race a glacier, the glacier would win.

    LOLOLOLOL. And this book seriously doesn't sound like the one for me. I'll pass.

  13. What a wonderful review! It basically sums up everything I've been hearing about this book. What a shame... it looked pretty cool.

    I totally lol'ed at these lines: "If the plot of FALLEN were to race a glacier, the glacier would win." and "If the way I describe a character is by the length of her hair and not any, I dunno, actual personality traits, you better believe that is a serious problem." The second sentence just seemed so sarcastic. Love it!

  14. Great review. Its nice to see a honest review that isnt just about how good it is. I do still want to read it, just happy to see its not right for everyone.

  15. I love honest reviews! Thanks! As this book might not appeal to me, it seems like it would appeal to my sister :) Will definitely tell her to check this out :)

  16. Great review, and thanks for your honesty! I too had heard almost only great things about this book, but the comparison to Twilight makes me hesitate. Bella was entertaining only for so long, and I appreciate characters who are more active. Not sure if I'll read Fallen yet - maybe I'll wait a little more.

  17. This really a great review Steph, even though I really liked Fallen! I love how you've expressed yourself here - I can see what you mean, although it's not the experience I had, and you made me laugh out loud which is always a plus.

    I think the fact that we both compared this one to Twilight speaks volumes actually. For me, I can get past Luce's Bellaness because of her backstory, but I would possibly feel differently about this if it continued throughout the whole series.

  18. I was sent a copy of this one for review, but I haven't gotten to it yet. I sort of am reluctant to after your review! ;)

  19. I also received an ARC copy of this book but I really enjoyed it. The characters to me, were well set-up and the concept of the shadows was particularly intriguing, the story itself was particularly different to anything else I have read in the YA genre lately. The thing that makes me laugh about reviews on Fallen and Hush, Hush are the comments saying that its a rip-off of Twilight. Twilight is a rip-off of ten other books I've read. Like music, it's pretty hard to have an original idea in literature. What wins your reader is the ability to make it better than the others. Overall I very much enjoyed it and so have my customers.

  20. Nice review but there's no need to be hostile or snarky. Just because someone likes Twilight doesn't mean they aren't well read like you are implying. It is possible to read guilty pleasure books and like other serious books too.

  21. Anonymous, of course not. I have plenty of guilty pleasure reads myself. (In fact, many of my classmates would say that my love of YA lit is a guilty pleasure in and of itself.) I am simply trying to get across the fact that this was not an enjoyable guilty-pleasure read for me. Of course many people out there like it; Random House wouldn't have a 100,000-copy first printing if they didn't believe Fallen would find a large audience.

    As for the snark, well, that just makes the review more fun to write, as well as more entertaining to read. I'm not trying to be Kirkus or Publishers Weekly here. Thanks for your opinion!

  22. Thanks for the review... just wanted to add my 2 cents of honesty..I really don't mean to offend the fan's of this book....really..

    I was so eager to read this book after a couple of my friends suggested it to me, that i went straight to the bookstores and got myself a copy. Book cover was attractive, the book description sounded totally awesome to me,i mean, gorgeous fallen angels, they do have some appeal...
    I was excited, first chapter-second-third loved how it all started out, curiosity kept me reading, but by the time i reached the end i found myself trying to piece together what in the world was happening...I lost interest somewhere in the book..I guess it just wasn't an interesting enough YA book for me.
    I want my money back and my time, but that's a lost cause.... I guess i'll give my copy out to someone younger then my 18 yr's who would love the book more then I.
    i really don't mean to offend "Fallen" book fans . They say this book will appeal to us, i agree with them, but like Steph mentioned it was "poorly executed". sigh
    And now i'm off to reading yet another "promising" YA book titled Hush Hush- Becca Fitzpatrick.

  23. I loved this story but thts probally becuz i havent read any other angle stories. To me it was perfectly placed and true to itself.


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