I got myself a copy of Lauren Kate‘s Fallen after reading about it in one of my friends’ blogs. I was pretty interested because the book was about fallen angels, characters I’ve never read about before. Although the storyline seemed familiar, if not predictable, there was still a flicker of hope that is encouraged and that which makes readers hope that they might be in for something else.
The said storyline is, as in what seems an ordinary plot nowadays, centered around a couple who falls in love with each other despite the differences in their identity. This time, though, the love happens between a fallen angel and a mortal girl. Daniel Grigori, a fallen angel, is a supposedly damned boy who falls in love with the same girl every seventeen years. The girl dies every time she realizes their love for each other and gets reincarnated after to another life and as another person. But she’s always the same girl Daniel finds and loves and, ultimately, gets killed.
In the story, Lucinda Price is another reincarnation of that girl. She meets Daniel again when she was sent to a reform school after being accused of killing her friend. Inexplicably, she gets drawn to Daniel and instantly, she falls in love with him, too.
Daniel tries to make Luce stay away from him for fear of losing her again until he finds out that her life at that time was already different. The change in the cycle has made her more vulnerable to the darker forces because if she dies again, she goes permanently. Thus, Daniel has to protect her more, especially after they have professed their love for each other.
This is a story of religion, love, and the forces that oppose each other in the mighty and vague Heavens. Fallen explores the stories of the Bible, with reference to the usual human connotations given to the concept of heaven and hell.
What I Liked:
Fallen has a really good concept. For me, it’s very new. After all the vampire novels that have become definitely rampant in the YA world, the concept of another set of characters is a good break. I also liked how Lauren Kate have presented imageries of the angels in a way that is not far from what we usually see in photos. It helps readers in imagining the scenes written in the book. Even the names given to the characters are a good mixture of cliché and unusual ones. That helps in giving a sense of reality, albeit the seeming unrealistic existence of the characters, to the book.
The plot setting is also something I appreciate, because reform school gave a different sense to the way the story was presented. It emanated a feeling of rawness and being something out of the ordinary. I like how Lauren Kate describes the settings with a clarity that makes a clear imagination. She uses the senses a lot, from the description of the colors, to the feeling, to the smell, and the silences of the places. I like best the lake setting where Luce and Daniel’s escapades happened, it seemed to be the only “lively” place in the reform school and the way it was described did just that.
What I Didn’t Like:
The story gives me something so Twilight. And I mean that in the love story department. There is so much of the boy-can’t-love-girl theme complete with the girl pining relentlessly for the boy. It is a concept that gets tiring and utterly predictable after. Like, hey, let me guess . . . they’re still going to be together right? The against-all-odds couple who would move heaven and earth just to be together. And then there would be follow-up books (there already is one) to lengthen the conflict.
Another thing I don’t like is the absence of foreshadowing in many parts of the story. There is a limited way of giving out a feeling that there may be something more to the characters than what they appear to be or that one incident is a likely precedent to another, more major revelation.
Lastly, I find difficult to like the slow pacing of the novel. Luce’s relentless pining is even made unbearable by the fact that it’s present for more than half of the entire book. It goes on until you’d simply want to slam the book shut just to get out of Luce’s mind and not think about why Daniel doesn’t get along well with her.
I do think this is why some more important parts are left out: the first-person type of storytelling didn’t mix well with the girl-in-love thoughts. This is also a manifestation of how “I-stories” can go wrong–when the story is told from a certain character’s perspective, that person must be omnipresent, almost omniscient, and utterly assertive. However, Fallen‘s storyteller lacks just that.
On the whole, Fallen is an exciting read if what’s to be considered is the character background and development (with the possible exception of the female lead). However, the excitement goes downhill before the middle part comes in purely because the story has dragged mercilessly due to lack of climactic incidents.
If YA news have it right, there are follow-ups to the first two novels. And if we can be forgivable enough, then maybe we can hope that the story invites a smarter line.