I'm sure you've heard the old saying, "Don't judge a book by it's cover." This is a pure crap, if you ask me. If you're looking for a book in the middle of your shopping trip, your visit to the local gas station, or perhaps the gift shop whilst on vacation, the cover of a book is what will draw you in. Sure, the obvious choice is to select a book by an author which you are familiar with - but what to do when your favorite author isn't up on those shelves?
This was the case for me during my quick trip to Walmart, where I was frantically searching for just the right pens to purchase for use on my sister's baby shower invitations. One and done, I was headed out, when something caught my eye. A dark beauty, her face in her hands, surrounded by darkness. The cover called to me. Seeing two more books with similar artwork standing next to her, I eagerly grabbed for it. My weakness has always been a book series.
'Fallen' has a great cover - smooth but with a matte finish, with just enough mysterious cover art to force a glance at the back page to see what it's all about. The brief (VERY BRIEF) blurb on the back only drew me further in and before I knew it, I was standing at the counter, paying for God only knew what.
These days, it's all about the paranormal romance. Don't misunderstand me, I love a good paranormal romance - my shelves are covered in them. However, sometimes too much of a good thing can start to look like the same old thing, just on a different day.
Lauren Kate's 'Fallen' is anything but the same old story. The plot screams for a young adult audience a la 'Twilight', but I was sucked in as well, my age mattering very little. Our young heroine Luce, short for Lucinda, lands herself in a reform school under mysterious circumstances. Her classmates seem to be the general reform school types: thieves, psychos, and various ankle-bracelet outlaws. With no contact to the outside world as part of the school's rules, Luce has to make the best of her situation and gain friends where she can. The only problem is, she can't tell who her real friends are and who is out to hurt her. As the shadows only she can see chase her and threaten her very sanity, Luce is forced to deal with the past that brought her to Sword & Cross boarding school, and feelings she doesn't understand for a boy who keeps her at arms length. You won't see the plot twist coming in this book, unless you cheat and go look at a review of the book online. I won't ruin the surprise for you, reader. It's not my style. What I will say is that this is a well thought-out plot, with characters who feel real, at least until you figure out the twist in the story.
The trick to any successful book series is to leave the reader wanting more, questioning the plot and what could possibly come next. Lauren Kate answers one question with the end of 'Fallen' and hands you a handful more to mull over in order to read the next installment of the series, 'Torment'. Once the first of what I believe will be many twists is revealed, there is a sense of urgency to figure out what comes next for Luce and those she has come to care for. Will we discover why Luce is haunted by black shadows? How much danger is she really in? Who is friend and who is foe? The carrot has been dangled - but you can only reach it by picking up the next book.
While I enjoy the premise, one that is not that familiar to me, the way the book is written seems to be very slow-going. The opening scene is confusing, and only understood once you get to the end, when the big reveal takes place, which wasn't really that big of a reveal, considering the reader is left with more questions than answers. There were many different characters, some who seemed to be friendly, others who weren't, but none of them were exactly predictable in regards to whether or not they had Luce's best interests at heart.
The style would definitely keep the attention of the intended audience, but basically failed to keep mine. When it comes to complicated back story, sometimes the moments leading up to a character realizing what the truth is can be too heavy in the first book. I would have liked to see better pacing, if not for story, then at least to keep the reader interested. I found myself almost skimming pages to get to the point, which I hate doing.
I'm intrigued by the premise, which I won't reveal here because it would give the entire plot away, so I will probably pick up the second in the series in the hopes that it will get to the meat of the story and explain some of the secrets surrounding Luce and who she really is.