Book reviews, musings and waffle from a British lit addict

Review: ‘Fallen’ by Lauren Kate

Date finished: 03 October 2011

Rating: 2 stars

Format: eBook

Source: Bought

Genre:  Paranormal romance; Urban fantasy; YA

Published: by Delacorte Press in December 2009
The Synopsis [taken from Goodreads.com]
There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.


The Review
In order to try and avoid the metaphorical rotten fruit throwing, there are a few things I think I should share before I proceed with this review:
1.  I have read, and enjoyed, the Twilight saga.  I am not, therefore, a YA/Paranormal romance snob or hater; 
2.  I am a self-confessed fantasy nerd – give me a mage/inexplicable natural gift/magical creature over natural human capabilities any day;
3.  When I was a teenager, I was all but obsessed with David Boreanaz a.k.a. Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer; men being all brooding and aloof is clearly not a problem for me.
So, all things considered, I should have loved Fallen.
But I didn’t.

My main problem was the protaganist, Luce.  Apparently sent to the Sword & Cross boarding school as a result of having been involved in the seemingly “minor” misdemeanor of causing her former boyfriend’s death, Luce struggles to fit in and is supposed to (I imagine) be a figure to inspire pity.  Saved from the drudgery of isolation by Arriane, Luce begins her term.  Shortly thereafter she spies the brooding and tempting Daniel and, sacrificing her dignity somewhat, proceeds to gawp.  On noticing her staring, Daniel “flicks the V” at Luce.  Charming. 
Only, apparently, it is charming.  Despite being the object of the equally handsome, effortlessly charismatic and thoughtful Cam’s affections, Luce chases after the attention of a man who can do nothing but swear at her.  Do I mean “chases after” in the sense that she wears more make-up and giggles excessively in Daniel’s presence in the style of a typical teen?  No, I mean that she abandons all sense of pride and stalks the basements of Sword & Cross to dig out his student records.  I know that we’re meant to believe that this is all because she is struck by an overwhelming and desperate love but I found the whole thing hard to buy into.  And all that’s without taking into account her lack of consideration of her last love interest’s demise.

That’s not to say that the book is all bad.  I came close to not finishing it but I did, because there are some redeeming features.  The minor characters at Sword & Cross are the subject of varying degrees of intrigue (my favourites were the quirky Arriane and lovely Penn).  The religious references lend a gothic air to the story and the allusions to mythology are a nice touch. 
The pace is quite slow to start with while the reader accompanies Luce as she bumbles her way through her first weeks at Sword & Cross.  For me, this part was drawn out a bit too much and I became weary of the inner Daniel versus Cam dilemma.  After it becomes apparent that the school’s residents aren’t quite as they appear, however, the pace picks up a lot and you’ll probably be dragged along quite happily through the climax and out the other side.  There are some unexpectedly dark moments and  I found myself disappointed that the whole book couldn’t have maintained the menacing atmosphere that it acquired later on. 


Overall:  This book is okay.  If you’re a woman and can suspend every inclination towards feminism that you’ve ever had, you’ll be ok.  If you’re a man and would like to maintain the delusion that ‘treat them mean, keep them keen’ is a valid mantra, you will also be ok.  Other than that, I’d suggest that you tried a better example of what YA fantasy fiction has to offer, like, say Maria Snyder’s Study series or Kristin Cashore’s Graceling