Pros: Falling Under caught hold of me and refused to let go, even days after I’d finished reading it
Cons: If there were any, I was too enthralled to notice
Rating: 6 out of 5
Theia is a Brit living in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. Her father is, at best, chilly, and Theia only has two good friends; she’s hardly part of the in-crowd. Her father keeps her in a gilded cage, so she’s never experienced the dubious teenage joys of dating. Then a mysterious new boy arrives in school, and everything changes—because Theia started dreaming about Haden before he arrived.
Haden confuses Theia. He runs alternately hot and cold, swinging wildly from fixating on her to flirting with any other pretty girl he sees—preferably in front of her. In their dreams they dance among skeletons and dine with ghouls, but he refuses to touch her or allow her to touch him. As Theia gradually finds out why Haden has come to Serendipity Falls, she has to decide what to do about her love for him, and her fear of what he is and might do.
How can I express just how blown away I was by Gwen Hayes’s Falling Under? I’ve given it one of my ultra-rare “6 out of 5″ ratings, which means it’s up with a top handful of books I’m never going to forget. After I read it I grabbed my iPad and bought every Gwen Hayes ebook I thought I might be halfway interested in. I was utterly speechless for a while after I finished the book. I had to take several days to digest it before I could even think of starting another book, because my head was so wrapped up in Falling Under. I picked it up again a couple of hours after I finished reading it and read the last third over again.
Falling Under has some similarities to books like Twilight, but it whomps all over them. Theia and Haden have an incredibly tumultuous relationship, but it makes perfect, utter sense given their backgrounds and youth. They both have strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. They each learn from the other and from themselves. Their friends and companions also help to bring the story to life in fantastic ways, and they defy so many stereotypes.
The paranormal and horror aspects of Falling Under are lush, evocative, and incredibly creative. If this were an adult book instead of young adult I’d say the horror aspects should be a bit darker and more intense for maximum impact, but as it is I think they’re just right.
I was hooked and frozen in place from the very first opening image of the book, and I couldn’t put it down until I was done. I can hardly wait to read more by Gwen!