Falling Under by Gwen Hayes reviewed by Meg

Falling Under by Gwen HayesTitle: Falling Under
Author: Gwen Hayes
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Publisher: NAL Trade
Pages: 366
Source: personal copy

I’m honestly a little put off by the plots that center around a girl who has to have the love affair with the bad boy. I understand that not all “bad boys” are really bad boys, but come on authors, can we please stop doing the “forbidden” love affairs in all of our YA books?

With that being said, I did enjoy Falling Under by Gwen Hayes. The female lead in this book is a girl named Theia, who’s mother died in child birth, leaving her with a strict, grief stricken father who shows no emotion or affection. She was raised in England, leaving her with an accent that she thinks puts her peers off. Her two friends, Donny and Ame, are as different as night and day as she is, which is one thing that I enjoy from the book, but I dislike as well. The plot itself drives me bonkers, but the imagery within the book is absolutely breathtaking and is probably its saving grace.

In essence, the plot of Falling Under centers around Theia’s dreams that start the night she sees the burning man fall from the sky. She dreams of a handsome boy who waltzes with her in the labyrinths with drunk skeletons and faceless debutantes. She dreams of black rose petals and dark words and whispered promises, and then she sees the boy outside of her dreams. His name is Haden, and he’s beautiful, and he flirts with the “sneeches” (aka, popular girls) and essentially turns his nose up at Theia, even though he acknowledges that he’s with her in her dreams, and there he seduces her while telling her he can never touch her, because he’ll darken her life with his world. And yet, they fall in love regardless.

This is partially where I’m put off, I understand Haden has to be “bad” to some degree to further the plot, but I don’t get where it does any good to have him flirt and play with other girls, and be downright ugly to Theia in other parts. Is it just to push the idea that he’s a bad guy? Because in the end, it does nothing for the progression of the plot. I’m getting annoyed with all the plots that center around the guy being a bad guy “just because”. In this book, Haden continuously pushes that he wants to be more than what he is, that he wants to rise above his creation and his darkside and embrace the humanity within. And yet, even though he has no problem controlling his urges with Theia, he can’t control them with anyone else? It just doesn’t convince me.

Character wise, I love Theia, there is a lot of growth in her from the beginning. She confronts her fears head on, and even though she’s your stereotypical good girl (makes good grades, dresses conservatively, doesn’t curse, doesn’t break the rules) you can sense her inner rebellion, her drive to become her own person beyond her father’s expectations. And as the book progresses, she really grows as a person. She confronts her father, her friends, and her life with the issues she wants to resolve. And she does it in a mature manner, determined to give no one any reason to doubt her choices.

I do have issues with her friends, simply because they are sooo diverse, that it detracts from the reality of the friendship. And when I say diverse, I mean these three girls are as different as night and day. You have Theia, the conservative good kid who’s never done even one tiny thing wrong, then there Ame, the rainbow goth girl who dabbles in the supernatural and has some…latent talents. She’s shy, but not reserved, parades around in chucks, rainbow arm warmers, dyes her hair pink and loves to read from her hello kitty tarot cards. And then there is Donny, who simply put is a a promiscuous sex pot who has absolutely nothing in common with Ame or Theia. She’s irresponsible, vicious, kinda slutty (well, it’s inferred that she’s really, really easy…) and doesn’t care much for what anyone thinks. And though I accept that opposites attract, I do have a hard time understanding the dynamics of these friendships when there is absolutely nothing in common with any of them. That being said, the author does seem to pull across that they are close, and that these girls will do anything for one another.

The biggest draw in this book for me, even when I was questioning the plot and the attraction between the characters, was the writing. It is absolutely unbelievable. You can picture each tiny nuance of the environment the characters are immersed in while reading, and that absolutely makes or breaks a book for me. And in this book, it definitely made it.

Over all, I’m still torn over Haden’s character, and how the author is developing Haden’s relationship with Theia, but the imagery and the overall plot of the book is very intriguing and unique. I wish she had abstained from turning Haden into the typical bad boy who is has to be a jerk to his love interest (really? do girls now a days find that attractive?). But for now, I can over look that as I venture into the second book. I hope to see some more growth from Haden as a character, and I hope to see something more in the plot that binds the characters together other than a mutual need to rebel. Generally speaking though, Falling Under was a good read.

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