Lauren Kate,
(Delacorte, 2009)

Fallen is the first book in a new series by Lauren Kate. If you enjoy the teen fantasy romance genre but you're tired of sparkly vampires and lovesick werewolves, this series may be for you.

Fallen is the story of 17-year-old Luce (short for Lucinda) who has always had trouble passing for normal. For as long as she can remember she has seen what she calls "shadows" -- creeping, black formless clouds that seem to haunt her. After spending years in and out of therapy, she has learned not to talk about the shadows she sees, even though they terrify her and separate her from everyone around her.

After Luce escapes from a suspicious fire that kills a boy from her school but leaves her unharmed, she is enrolled in a reform school. In her new school, Luce meets the rebellious and charming Cam and the mysterious Daniel. While Luce feels drawn to both boys, she can't help feeling there's a deeper connection between herself and Daniel that she can't explain. Before long, Luce realizes she is caught up in something much bigger than herself and that the fate of the world -- the outcome of the battle between Heaven and Hell -- may depend on her choices and her survival.

This novel is very plainly just the set-up for the rest of the series. It starts out kind of slow; it seems to take forever to reach the climax of the novel and explain what's really going on, but if you have patience you will be rewarded. Kate does a good job of introducing readers to Luce; it's hard not to feel sympathetic for this troubled girl, even though her actions can be frustrating at times.

Kate also knows how to keep the story from becoming predictable. Unlike most books I've read in this genre, there's no way of knowing which characters can be trusted, and the end of the novel could take you by surprise. I know I didn't see what was coming.

It's easy to compare this book to the Twilight saga, and I'm sure many reviewers will do just that, but I think this series will be better planned and thought-out than that series. While each book in Twilight could have been the last and each sequel needed to find a new direction to make it interesting, it is obvious by the end of Fallen that Kate has definite plans for this series and a definite direction in which to take it -- a direction I hope proves to be as interesting and exciting as this promising first novel indicates it will be.

review by
Charissa Jelliff

9 January 2010

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