After Twilight and all of its…something…graced print, it became very clear that there was a hungry market for paranormal romance. As such, several soulless clones rose up to follow the footsteps of the original the way that a zombie follows a necromancer. All of these books follow the same basic pattern: An ordinary high school girl that has always been somehow different than everyone else comes to a new school. There she meets a dark, brooding, attractive guy who both follows her around and gives her signals that he’s not interested in her. Eventually, she finds out that he is some kind of humanoid supernatural creature, and they both angst about their love and brood together for a few books in which a pointless love triangle is set up, and some random somewhat evil guy is made up in order to give something like a plot to the trash.
One of the first books to follow into the footsteps of SMeyer’s joy was called Fallen by Kate Lauren. As she’s never written anything before this, it’s pretty safe to say that she was either a Twihard who got inspired or a pragmatist who saw a good money making scheme. I’m going to guess Twihard.
This book got fairly popular and pretty much launched the fallen angel romance genre. With all of it’s smug religion fail and utter lack of anything that resembles research. It’s even got a movie in the works by Disney. Which I am very, very disappointed in Disney for doing.
So, let’s dive in.
The cover also launched something: the girl’s in prom dresses for no real reason that most YA paranormal romances seem to think is necessary. So, we have a girl who looks like she’s never seen the sun in her life, or is just a statue, with her face in her hands wearing a gothic prom dress. The dress looks like it’s trying to be Victorian and failing because as even the most causal observer would tell you, there was no such thing as a completely strapless Victorian dress. Our goffic weeping chick has long black hair to go with her dead pale skin and black dress. She’s standing in what seems to be a winter woods with some crows around her for no reason. Above is a quote from P.C. Cast, a charming mother/daughter team that seems to think that being ugly is sufficient reason to die, recommending the book, and the words: “What would you know if the person you were meant to be with could never be yours” or something to that effect on the back.
I’d get a carton of Ben and Jerry’s, rant about what a jerk he was and how I was better off without him and work on my next chapter/review/whatever.
There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.
Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.
Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce—and goes out of his way to make that very clear—she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.
Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, Fallen is a page turning thriller and the ultimate love story.
A word to the wise, something that calls itself the ‘ultimate love story’ is pretty much doomed to failure.
Here’s my recap:
Taking out the pointless prolog, Luce1 Price is a girl who’s been accused of arson. It’s said she started a fire which killed her crush/boyfriend. (I’m not sure what he was.) Like any good YA parents, her parents would never believe their daughter’s claims of innocence, even though she’s never shown any pyromaniac tendencies before, and send her off to a school called Sword and Cross. This pretentiously named place is a reform school where students have to wear black for no reason, no one can ever leave the property or contact their families more than once a week, parents aren’t allowed to really know about the conditions, and all of this is totally fine.
Luce claims that she’s innocent and it’s the fault of the anthropomorphic shadows that she sees that caused the fire. But she can’t tell anyone this because they would think that she’s insane. This makes sense. Still, why wouldn’t her own parents at least believe that their daughter might not be guilty?
Walking through the halls on the first day, Luce comes face to face with a guy named Daniel Grigori. Who is a badboy and breaking the school’s all black dress cold by wearing a red scarf. The horror.
He flips her the bird on first sight.
Swept off her feet by this sign of love, she begins stalking him relentlessly.
Like most clones, there is very little actual plot in this novel, and the sentence above could easily account for three-fourths of what is going on. But I’m feeling sadistic, so I’m going to recap.
So, Luce goes to her first, painstakingly described class, and ends up getting flirted with right off the bat by a guy named Cam…who looks like Harry Potter. Black hair, thin, emerald green eyes. It’s Harry Potter. Luce’s roommate, Arrianne, a self-proclaimed psychopath, obviously is taking notes from that girl in The Roommate and proclaims that Luce is ‘hers’. This disturbs me.
Not one to care about the psycho roommate, Cam continues flirting with Luce, who is more interested in seeing if Daniel, the guy who flipped her off two seconds ago, is looking at her. Later, Luce meets our Scary Sue, named Mary Margaret2 AKA Molly Zane, who antagonizes Luce for no real reason and ends up getting meatloaf all over Luce. Luce angsts. I would feel more sorry for her if she had an actual personality.
Later, Luce goes to a party3 and realizes that Daniel might be seeing someone else, a blonde (the horror) girl named Gabrielle (Gabbe) Givens.4 She goes off to angst. Later on, she meets a girl named Pennyweather (Penn) Van Syckle-Lockwood. I am not making this up. The two become friends and start to stalk Daniel together. They make plans to go through his personal files.
Meanwhile, Luce is still stalking Daniel in person. They have a swimming class which is apparently built in what used to be a Catholic Church, and the students call it Our Lady of Fitness. This allows Luce to talk about how enlightened she is as an agnostic. Talk about tolerant. Luce sees a shadow that messes up her little swimming race, and she and Daniel manage to have a conversation about how Daniel knows things about Luce that he shouldn’t. Such as the fact that she has ‘always’ been a good swimmer. Luce feels a connection, and Daniel thinks she needs to get over herself.
This conversation repeats itself a few times at a lake on the grounds and in the graveyard that also exists on the grounds. Do you think that Kate was trying to be gothic? Still, Daniel himself has very little actual presence in the first four fifths of the novel. He rarely interacts with Luce, and while the whole plot revolves around him, it’s mostly Luce’s obsession that keeps it this way.
So, after being assigned a project to learn about their genealogies, Luce, who claims to be smart, decides to forget learning about her own genealogy, and starts to learn about Daniel’s. What she learns with Penn’s help is that Daniel got arrested for jaywalking, and that someone named D. Grigory published a book about fallen angels, here called ‘Watchers’ like the Book of Enoch calls them. Hrm, I wonder what this could mean…
But the library doesn’t have the book! How could this be! Even the librarian, Miss Sophia, the only teacher that Luce likes, doesn’t know. While she’s sitting around the library, thinking of what to do after Penn leaves her, a fire starts for no reason in the library. She is trapped with only her and a quiet guy named Todd5 who manages to save her, but breaks his neck in the process.
Luce wakes up in the hospital, talks to Arrianne and Gabbe, who so far have had no real point in this story. They are about as flippant with Todd’s death as everyone was in the death of Elliot the ugly guy in House of Night6. Luce decides that they’re right. Todd was just a minor character, so who cares. The police appear, and, as they’re in a cruddy YA novel, are all suspicious and mean to the ‘totally innocent’ Luce. Her parents turn up for no reason other than to say ‘see, see, she’s not Bella! Her family lives together!’
At the funeral of the guy who saved her she goes to stalk Daniel, who hints that he does really like her. Luce is happy.
I feel sorry for Todd. He had so little presence in the novel, but I actually morn him slightly.
Cam, the rival, decides to get her to skip class with him and go have a picnic in the cemetery a week or so later. They sit, talk about normal things and sound like actual teenagers for once. Cam says he wants to meet up with Luce at some point when they’re supposed to all be in their rooms. Luce says sure. Despite the fact that she’s obviously more interested in Daniel. That night, instead of calling her worried family or so called best friend who never appears in the novel, she decides to meet up with Cam, who somehow manages to fool all the security cameras and gets a friend to smuggle her out to meet him in the nearby town. Why he doesn’t meet her himself is beyond me. Luce gets taken to a bar where Cam is kind of sleazy, gets in a fight for no real reason other than to show how bad he is for Luce and to murder his prior characterization. Luce leaves and is suddenly picked up by Daniel who is now channeling Edward Cullen and stole a car to get her.
Cam runs after her, and Luce is given a moment of Significant Choice between Cam and Daniel Obviously, she chooses Daniel. He, still challenging Edward, calls Luce a silly little girl. Luce has some awkward exposition where she suddenly gives her grades and ambition to be a psychiatrist which is never mentioned before and never will be mentioned again, and finally Daniel admits that they do know one another but that every time that he meets her, she dies before she’s legal, and basically admits that he’s one of the Fallen. Then he kisses her.
Now this is what I call a romantic first date.
The next day, Miss Sophia, the librarian, tells Luce that she found the book that Daniel’s supposed ancestor wrote, and when she looks at the author’s picture (surprise, surprise) it’s Daniel with a girl who looks just like Luce!7 I am not impressed.
Luce doesn’t get this. The Fallen thing, I mean. She’s alright with the past lives. Cam gets Luce to see her again, and tells her that she’s making a mistake with Daniel to do avail since she’s already kissed him and apparently that’s as good as being married in this world. Then he gets her to kiss him and tries to
rape attack make out with do something to her and then Gabbe turns up and saves her from something.
She goes to see Daniel in the auditorium with Penn, and Gabbe and Arianne are waiting for her. They all tell her that they’re good Fallen, and that she gets reborn every time that she dies. Cam appears with a bunch of shadow monsters, reveals he’s an evil Fallen, and he and Daniel basically start fighting over Luce with Arrianne and Gabbe helping.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, Miss Sophia turns up and makes Luce and Penn follow her, while the Fallen have it out with one another. We never see this fight. After all, that would be violent and not good for our little darlings. Violence is bad. The messed up themes of this book are perfectly alright though.
Penn shields Luce from an attacking shadow monster. Miss Sophia leads them both into the gym8 and commits the Unfortunate Implication ridden act of killing Penn, the only human character in the cast. Miss Sophia reveals that she too is an angel. Only she’s not Fallen and she wants to kill Luce so that Daniel will suffer. Or something. The story isn’t overly clear on why she wants to kill Luce. I think Kate thinks she’s being mysterious. Either that or at this point, my mind was so overcome with stupid that I just didn’t care anymore.
So, Sophia’s been behind a lot of Luce’s past live’s deaths, and she says that this time, because her parents are super rare agnostics and Luce hasn’t been baptized, she will die permanently but she also has a spark of individuality. Which is very tolerant of people and ideas that Kate doesn’t agree with.
Sophia also has this utterly awesome line right before she’s about to stab Luce:
“When you die tonight – you die. That’s it. Kaput. In this lifetime you’re nothing more than you appear to be: a stupid, selfish, ignorant, spoiled little girl who thinks the world lives or dies on whether she gets to go out with some good-looking boy at school. Even if your death wouldn’t accomplish something so long-awaited, glorious, and grand, I’d still relish this moment, killing you…”
I admit it. I cheered, and I was in the car at the moment going, and everyone looked back at me like I was insane. But, Kate, when your reader reacts like this to a line that we’re supposed to shake our heads at and go ‘NO!!! U DON UNDERSTAND HER!!1one!1!elevenzies!’ you have a major problem.
Tragically, Daniel saves Luce and kills Sophia off-screen. He explains that she’s in some extremist group in Heaven that no one had taken seriously. This might be interesting if it had happened about four hundred pages of plotless drivel earlier.
At any rate, Daniel decides that Luce is in too much danger to stay at the school, and Luce goes off in a stolen plane to some unknown island without a thought in her pretty little head about just what her parents and best friend are going to do, what this is going to look like to the police, why she’s a target, or just how this is going to affect her future. The book ends with Daniel in full Edward mode, watching Luce sleep while Cam appears and solidifies that there’s going to be a pointless love triangle in future books.
Excuse me while I go vomit.
Unlike the Mortal Instruments series, Kate isn’t trying to live up to some kind of dream. Like the Mortal Instruments, she throws characters around, gives them almost no real point to the book, and calls it good. There are a lot of characters who come in this this book and few, if any, have any point. I’ll talk about the ones that actually existed for a reason. Let’s take a look at our cookie cutouts, shall we?
Lucille (Luce) Price is our braindead heroine for this novel. Most of the time, she’s pretty bland, but where Daniel is concerned, this girl is downright creepy. I can understand why her parents thought that there was something wrong with her. How many mentally healthy girls start following everywhere, break into the files of, look up everything about, and do nothing but think about a guy who has on no uncertain terms told her he wasn’t interested in her? Luce has plenty of informed traits, like being smart while she does a lot of really, really dumb things, and Kate beats into us three times in the book that Luce is agnostic and this somehow makes her more tolerant of other people while she makes intolerant comments about those of her classmates, who she assumes are all churchgoing. We’re told about how kind and humble she is, but really, she’s about as arrogant and unfeeling as Bella Swan. She actually dismisses the fact that a guy died to save her a few minutes after she hears about it as not a big deal. She is irredeemable.
Daniel Grigori really doesn’t have much presence in this book until the end, and he really has about as much personality as your average Ken doll. He is there to be handsome, desirable, and love Luce. Kind of pathetic really. I suppose that in that way, he’s superior to Edward Cullen, as his presence is so non-existent that it’s hard to actually dislike him throughout most of the book. Also, for the first part of the book, he reacts like a somewhat normal person to the fact that Luce is stalking him: by at least acting like he thinks she’s insane. There isn’t a whole lot more to say. Unfortunately, the moment that he shows an actual presence, it’s really had to tell him apart from the many other Edward clones.
Cam who doesn’t seem to have a last name in this book, is our rival. Unfortunately, he’s about ten times more likable since he actually has a presence in the novel. Apparently, Kate realized this, as she suddenly derailed his personality into being a jerk and making Luce do things that weren’t good for her, like sneak out of school. Same thing with his suddenly being an evil Fallen. It just seemed to sudden and forced that it felt like Kate had just realized that Luce and Cam had more chemistry than Luce and Daniel did.
Molly is our Scary Sue9 for the novel. She doesn’t really seem to have a reason to hate Luce. She just does. She also warns her away from Daniel for some reason, and makes fun of Luce’s name during a reading of Paradise Lost to note the fact that Luce and Lucifer sound alike. I found it very astute of her. Like most of the characters in this book, she only has few scenes, and really doesn’t play much of a role in the overall story. It’s revealed that she’s an Evil Fallen, but it doesn’t really matter all that much to the ‘story’ of the book either way. She contributes very little, other than a little angst, and disappears once there is something resembling a plot in the novel.
Penn the unfortunately named is the only human who is one of Luce’s friends. She’s also the only one of Luce’s friends to die. This is not a good thing. It leads me to think there is some kind of anti-human discrimination going on. She’s the daughter of the dead caretaker, is only allowed to go to school because of that, and because she’s with a bunch of psychos and delinquents, she learns as much as she can about them and seems to use that as leverage for them to leave her be. In good hands, her character had potential. Unfortunately, she was only used as a means for Luce to learn more about Daniel. Though, Penn did have one moment where she pointed out the Luce was in fact stalking the guy, and that did kind of make me like her.
Miss Sophia is our villain for the novel. Though she doesn’t really do a whole lot. Through most of the novel, she’s a bland teacher like all the other bland teachers so it…feels odd when she suddenly becomes the villain. We’re told that she’s a part of an extremest group of angels that no one took all that seriously until now. Apparently, she doesn’t like the Fallen. Her motives are very vague at best. She is also one of the most likeable characters in the book simply because she calls Luce out for acting as if the the world revolved around her and her ‘true love’. Luce used that phrase. True love.
Yes. And it is terribly handled.
If you are going to make your male protagonist dark and mysterious through most of the book, it’s not a good idea to build up his rival. The triangle is treated as one, but in reality, I don’t know enough about Daniel to really care one way or the other about the guy. Just because he’s tall, blonde and brooding doesn’t mean much.
Also, because Daniel acted like a jerk when you first meet him, I forever kind of think of him as ‘the guy who gave the main character the finger’ and not much else.
An old military academy from the Civil War turned Reform School where cameras watch the students’ every move, and no one’s allowed to tell their parents what things are really like is interesting. In the hands of a capable writer, the whole thing could have had a really claustrophobic, creepy feeling to it. The problem is that there are some slight holes in the whole setting, and nothing is handled well at all.
I also have some issues with the Catholic church in a Southern military academy. While I know that many of the upper classes were Catholic, it doesn’t ring true that they’d only have a Catholic church on the grounds, when Catholicism wasn’t the most popular religion in the country. Particularly to many of the people who would have been attending that school. I know for a fact that after the Civil War, the KKK seemed to think that the Pope was sitting in the Vatican, twirling his nonexistent mustache and plotting how to take over America.
Also, Kate drops bits and pieces of the place’s past, but it feels like nothing more than an infodump. She’s obviously not really interested, and that disinterest kind of passes along to me.
Handling parents in a YA novel is hard. It’s boring when the adults do everything, so the parents have to be busy with something so that the protagonists can have an adventure. That doesn’t give an excuse for bad writing. Luce’s parents are horrible people. I mean, one look at this place, and most people wouldn’t be inclined to think that it would be good for their daughter. Particularly if they thought that she was innocent. To actually sign her over to a place where they can’t check on her reeks of self-centered, uncaring people who don’t care if their daughter is abused.
Another thing, Kate seems to think that I’m going to believe that these parents suspect her? Despite the fact that Luce never showed any signs of this before and there’s no proof that she did anything? Unless Luce’s stalking habits are normal, this just doesn’t seem like something that real people would do.
Stalking a guy is a perfectly healthy way to start a relationship. If said guy is uninterested, it just means that you need to stalk him a little more. He’ll come around.
Really, I’d assume that this is some kind of ‘love conquers all’ story. But the whole plot is so ridiculous, and the characters have so little chemistry, that the whole thing feels like a mutual stalking session. Luce stalks Daniel. Cam stalks Luce. Daniel stalks Luce. Stalking is love.
While Kate doesn’t fall into the Land of the Purple prose, it doesn’t fall into good prose either. The dialog particularly seems stilted and unnatural, other than a few times where the editor seemed to have a good idea what a normal teenager would say.
Kate does, thankfully, writes in third person, possibly because there isn’t much going on in Luce’s head. I’m grateful. It was bad enough to hear her whining without having to constantly listen to her thinking whiny thoughts.
There is also the issue that Kate has with her names. Everyone in this novel has some kind of ‘special’, ‘meaningful’, or ‘foreshadowing’ name, other than maybe Cam, and it’s done with all the tender subtlety of an anvil dropping on your head. Who names their child Pennyweather this side of the nineteenth century anyways?
While I understand that it’s kind of fun to make jokes with your readers or make allusions to something using the name, it’s another thing to give your guy a last name like Grigori. It would have been like Edward Cullen’s last name being Van Helsing or something to that effect.
Mythology and Religion
How do you fail, Kate? Let me count the ways.
First of all, pretty much everything we know about angels is either speculation or comes from Apocryphal works such as the Book of Enoch. Now, Kate doesn’t reference anything directly, other than referring to the Fallen as the Watchers, and she certainly doesn’t bother to even acknowledge hundreds of years worth of tradition regarding just what the Fallen are. Because she knows better. She certainly doesn’t consider the fact that, as far as pretty much all religions that deal with angels are concerned, the Fallen are evil. Irredeemably evil. A fallen angel is a demon. Why? Because, unlike a human being, they understand the full implications of a sin. They’re not doing something because they think it’s the right thing or that it isn’t a big deal. They’re doing it for the evils and for no other reason.
Once again, she seems unaware, or possibly just uncaring, that people actual believe in angels in the traditional sense. Instead of at least touching on how hers are different from the traditional view of angels in a respectful, well thought out way, Kate just plows on ahead, sneers a little at all religions worldwide, and proclaims herself so much better.
She also doesn’t seem to comprehend that by saying that there are angels, she has also inferred that God exists, and has therefore given herself a whole new group of problems that need to be dealt with. How can an angel defy God and still be good? Have they repented? Or is she making some point reminiscent of His Dark Materials? We get nothing. This is kind of a major thing to overlook, but she sure has.
Finally, her treatment of every single religion in the world is abominable. I should probably state here that I hate smug, self righteous, preachy fiction whether it’s smug Christian, smug Atheist or smug Hindu/Buddhist/Agnostic/New Age/anything else. It’s all equally rude. As such, I really, really, hate Kate’s attitude. Daniel mentions that Luce has practiced every major religion and then Kate has Sophia basically mention that they all destroy people’s individuality.
While I am fine with her stating an opinion, you have to have more than one opinion in a book. For instance, in Supernatural prior to season four, Dean Winchester believes in demons, because he kills them, but not God or angels. His brother Sam believes that if there are demons, there must be God and angels. When one states on opinion, the other will state the other. Hence, the writers of the show are not preaching. Two characters are showing their opposing views, and the writers haven’t said anything. Kate just assumes that her audience agrees with her and doesn’t give those that might not a voice.
Once again, we have Paradise Lost being referenced, mostly as a way to have some very ‘subtle’ foreshadowing, allow Luce to sit upon her laurels about how she’s so much more enlightened than all the churchgoing Christian delinquents,10 and have Molly mention that Luce is similar to Lucifer. I pray that I’m not going to find out in the next book that she is Lucifer, and she was misunderstood. She only tempted Eve, caused the fall of man and is trying to send all of humanity to hell for LOVE!
I hate everything right now.
This book is boring. Even Twilight pretended that there was a plot. This just seems to be Kate’s random fantasy that should have never seen the light of print. It’s boring, pointless, and stupid. The characters are utterly flat; the main character is creepy; the only halfway interesting character is suddenly turned evil; and the best line was said by a random evil character.
Don’t read this book. At least Clare had some moments of fun dialog and STUFF HAPPENED. Yes it was stupid, inconsequential stuff, but it was stuff, and it happened. I’ll tell you right now, watching paint dry is more entertaining than reading Fallen.
Rating: 2/10 (I give it some points for not being purple prose and the setting would have been interesting if she’d actually worked on it.)
Next up is Hush Hush.
1 Huh, Luce…Lauren… blast it all, you suethors are so easy to catch…
2 I c whut u did there, Kate.
3 Which the reform school is perfectly fine with or doesn’t know about. Doubtful, as Kate goes through great pains to point out to us at every opportunity that there are cameras watching the students’ every move.
4 These names are…painful.
5 STOP, KATE, you’re not being creative. You’re being annoying. I know what ‘Todd’ means. THANK YOU FOR THE SUBTLE FORESHADOWING!
6 Basically, they mention it and kind of joke about it. Luce joins them and even gets snotty to someone (I believe it’s Penn, but this novel is so vapid that it slips my mind, and I’ve only finished reading it) who actually points out that a person died. This is the point where my feelings went from boredom to complete hatred.
7 I’m not sure that Victorian nonfiction books like this would actually have author’s pictures in them. The history books that I own from the Edwardian to late Victorian eras don’t. Neither do the novels I own. Photographs were a pretty big deal back then.
8 You know, the one that used to be a Catholic Church. Insert creepy music here.
9 In case you’re not aware, a Scary Sue exists as a foil to a Mary Sue. She insults the Sue pointlessly, is a toothless kind of problem, and really is there so that the reader feels sorry for the Sue. Often in fanfic, a canon female character, like Kairi in Kingdom Hearts is turned into a Scary Sue.
10 Another thing that Kate doesn’t seem to realize is that agnostics aren’t as uncommon as they were when she was a girl.