Saturday, May 29, 2010


Author: Lauren Kate
Delacourte Press, 2009
452 pages

Recently, I bought several Young Adult novels, with the intention of passing them along to my niece (age 14) so she'd have something to read this summer. I'd seen Fallen in the bookstores, and remembered reading a good review when it first came out - so this was the first of the new books I decided to read.

The plot goes something like this: Seventeen year-old Luce (named after singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams - her yuppie academic parents met at a concert) is the new girl at a very unusual reform school near Savannah, Georgia called Sword and Cross. Luce, who was previously schooled in the finest college-prep institution in New England, has a history of seeing strange shadows that give her a sense of foreboding, followed by some sort of disaster. Her parents have spent loads of time and money on psychiatrists to help Luce, but the visions escalated until the event that sent her to Sword and Cross.

While Luce tries to assimilate at Sword and Cross, she gets to know some of the other students; all of them are strange in one way or another. She finds herself particularly drawn to Arriane and Penn, two very different girls with whom she becomes friends, and the overly pleasant and romantic Cam. But Luce is attracted to Daniel, who seems not only disinterested in her, but hostile.

When the Nancy Drew-like Penn (whose name is Pennyweather Van Syckle Lockwood, one of the coolest names in recent literature IMHO) begins to research Daniel's past, she discovers a book written by someone with his name (an ancestor?) back in the 18th century.  It was about here that things started to get predictable for this experienced reader. However, for some silly reason I kept reading. The more I read, the more annoyed I became with myself for reading!

I know I haven't been seventeen in almost thirty years, but I don't remember ever feeling as if I had anything in common with most of the characters in this book. As much as I wanted to like Luce, there was something about her that rubbed me the wrong way. The only character with any real redeeming qualities was Penn, and I was not pleased with what happened to her (so much that I nearly threw the book across the room - and from there on out, I just skimmed.)

This is not to say that my niece wouldn't like Fallen. Or that you wouldn't like it. But I didn't like it. Don't get me wrong: the idea behind Fallen is pretty cool, and the author writes well. She's just not writing to me. :-)