Review: Falling Under

Posted March 15, 2011 by Jen in 3.5 stars, Paranormal YA, Rating B, YA Literature Tags: ,

Falling Under
Author: Gwen Hayes 
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Publisher: New American Library (NAL)
ISBN: #978-0451232687
Genre: Young Adult, paranormal
Format(s): Paperback (336 pgs), ebook
I received a copy of this book from the PUBLISHER for the purposes of an honest review.
From the author’s website:
In her dreams he’s irresistible—seductive, charming, and undoubtedly dangerous. But when he appears to her when she’s awake—and captivates her just the same—she’s not sure which way is up and which is down.

Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life, not allowed the same freedoms as the rest of the teenagers in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, she feels every urge she’s ever denied burning through her at the slightest glance from Haden Black. Theia knows she’s seen Haden before—not around town, but in her dreams.

Theia doesn’t understand how she dreamed of Haden before they ever met, but every night has them joined in a haunting world of eerie fantasy. And as the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her forward 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 as she slowly discovers what Haden truly is, Theia’s not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul.

What B is talking about:
Theia Alderson is an anomaly. She’s shy, overprotected, has a British accent, is a brilliant violinist, and is the object of affection of an irresistible half-demon. Haden Black is the handsome new boy in school but carries a dark secret, one that will change Theia’s life forever. 
Although I’m fairly new to YA novels, Falling Under seems wonderfully dark for the genre. It also addresses some very grown-up themes. Hayes doesn’t try to pretend that high school is a bastion of innocence, nor does she insinuate that her characters, and teenagers in general, I believe, will not be able to navigate the unraveling of their own naivety. 
There is a strong undercurrent of awakening sexuality running throughout the novel. Thanks to Haden’s restraint, however, Theia is able to experience, and is sometimes hurt by, various stages of desire, from curiosity to longing to desolation. Hayes also addresses the reality of high school promiscuity through one of Theia’s best friends who is a sexually active girl. I was pleased to see that her choice to do so is treated as simply another facet of her personality, rather than allowing it to become a larger issue than it should be in the story.
As much a YA horror novel as a romance, Falling Under is filled with plenty of things that are creepy and evil. Instead of relying on her characters to simply say these creatures are frightening, Hayes describes her gruesome incarnations in detail, and makes the distinction between the two worlds of her novel unmistakable in the process. 
The novel did leave me a little unsatisfied in some ways. For instance, after a point it seemed that the trials Theia continually faced were never going to end, and any resolution would be persistently elusive. Also, Haden’s treatment of Theia, even though he explains it’s for her own good, seems excessively cruel. And, while her continued pursuit of him despite his actions disappointed me, I expected it all the same.
Altogether, Falling Under is a pleasantly challenging novel. I enjoyed watching Theia and Haden fight for one another, as well. The secondary characters are just as well written as the main protagonists, and Hayes’ commitment to the establishment of the world within her story is impressive. One of my favorite things about the novel is that Hayes treats her target audience as the young adults they are, and thoroughly capable of handling the themes she has woven into her novel.
B’s Rating: 
Liked it a lot – recommend (B+)

5 responses to “Review: Falling Under

  1. B.

    The cover is absolutely gorgeous! It was a very enjoyable read, I have to say. Quite dark, but enjoyable.

  2. Another wonderful review B! I have read a previous review on this book and was interested in checking it out. It is on my TBR list already and with your review I know that I need to keep it there. 🙂