Friday, May 13, 2011

Review: Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

Publisher: New American Library
Publication Date: March 1st, 2011

Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, Theia knows she's seen Haden before- not around town, but in her dreams. 

As the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her closer one moment and pushes her away the next, the only thing Theia knows for sure is that the incredible pull she feels towards him is stronger than her fear. 

And when she discovers what Haden truly is, Theia's not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

Eh. That's what I have to say about this book. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. It was engaging, but not anything new and different. Let's see... Shy, out-of-sync-with-normal-high-school-stuff girl meets boy. He's a total jerk to her, yet she is mysteriously drawn to him. He tells her to stay away because he's not good for her. She doesn't listen and they fall in love despite the paranormal obstacles they must overcome. Sound vaguely familiar? Yeah. I liked the Twilight Saga, so I didn't hate this book and there were definite differences that saved it from being a "Twilight re-telling". I even have to respect the author for having the characters openly mock the similarities, but this book kind of fell flat for me. Don't get me wrong, there were parts I liked, but I the things I disliked overshadow them.

Things I did NOT like:
~The writing style. Way too many words!! Descriptive language is a good thing in a novel, but too much description is annoying. At times I felt like the author was having a hard time making the book long enough, so she over-stated everything. Kind of like when I was in HS and had to write a 1,000 word essay, but only had 750 words worth of anything to say...
~Most of the characters bugged me. Theia was SO melodramatic, sullen, and really dumb (especially for a supposedly smart girl) , Haden was a self-absorbed ass, and Theia's dad was so cliche (ridiculously rich, clueless, overprotective-yet-absent daddy) I wanted to puke.
~I detest it when a female "heroine" is a love-sick sap like Theia. I hate the message it sends to young girls that it's okay to sacrifice yourself and everything that makes you who you are for a guy. I would much rather read about a character like Katsa from Graceling or Helen from Nobody's Princess; girls who can fall in love without becoming weak, submissive idiots. (Just sayin'.)
~I mentioned this before, but the basic premise of the book has been done. Over. And Over. And Over.

Things I DID like:
~The story did start to have some original elements toward the last 1/3 of the book. I'm not going to give away the parts that made the book good for those of you that haven't read it.  Just know that it gets much better in the end.
~Donny and Haden's mom rock as far as characters go. In my opinion, they were the only two well-written characters in the book. Donny was strong, smart, independent, and witty. Haden's mom was the perfect villain (I love female villains!).
~The cover is beautiful. I'm a cover whore, and this one is just stunning.
~The Underworld is pretty cool with all the dancing skeletons and demons. The only time I wasn't annoyed with Hayes's writing style was when she was describing the Underworld.
~No love triangle!!! Hallelujah!! I am so sick of love triangles in YA books. Seriously. Even the most gorgeous socially-adept HS girls usually don't have more than one guy vying for their affections at the same time. The socially-awkward yet beautiful-in-a-subtle-way HS girl? She's lucky to have one guy fall in love with her.
~This book was pretty dark as far as paranormal romances go. I like dark, so it worked for me on that level.

Overall impression? I somewhat liked it.
Was it a total waste of time? Not really. There are books out there that I recommend to everyone I know (Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, Unwind by Neal Shusterman), and then there are those that I only mention to certain people. This is one of those. If you like paranormal romance with a dark side and don't mind a loose rehashing of Twilight, this book is for you.
Will I read the next book, Dreaming Awake? Probably not. My TBR list is so overflowing, that I probably won't bother. There's just too much out there that I know I'll like better...

My Rating: ★ ★ ★

Grade Level Recommendation: I would say this is fine for ages 12+ (7th grade+). There is some sexuality in the book, but it's fairly benign. I wouldn't let my (almost) 10 year old read it, but I wouldn't have a problem in a couple of years.


  1. This is a great review! I know exactly how you felt about the book and I think I'll go ahead and pass it by. It's a shame, though, the cover is awesome!

  2. I feel the exact same way about this book! I was really excited to read it. When I finished it, I was annoyed but I did pick up a few good things about it as well. Theia was an absolute Bella. She annoyed me to no end. The twist at the end was cool but it came to late in the story. By the time it arrived, I was already getting sick of the book. I'm not sure if I'll read the next one. Maybe if I can borrow it or something. & Donny? Fantastic!


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