When I opted to check Fallen out, I did so believing it was going to be a straightforward dark fantasy adventure. Then I started reading it and began to cringe. I'd picked up a teenage romance novel (admittedly not my first choice of genre) or so I thought.
The one thing reading Fallen has taught me (and this should apply to all readers), it's that one should never underestimate a book. Because it's greatest power is always that it can surprise you. And that's what Lauren Kate has done with her (quite frankly) enthralling read.
Fallen focuses on one Lucinda Price, a narcissist teenager with a horrific past. Lucinda has been sent off by her parents to Sword & Cross reform school. Immediately, Luce finds herself struggling to fit in with the strict regime of the school, as well as trying to find her place among all the other misfits she's landed up with. And to cap it all off, Luce is head-over-heels in love with Daniel Grigori, a distant, cold teenager who couldn't care less about her.
It may sound so simple, but like epics such as The Gargoyle (Andrew Davidson), The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) and The Kin (Gillian Wallace), Fallen becomes so much than its premise implies. And that's because of how Lauren guides her story.
There is a plot to Fallen, but it doesn't come into play until the last few chapters. The majority of the book is purely character-driven, with Kate keeping the primary focus on Luce and chronicling her struggles to adapt and survive in the harsh environment of Sword & Cross. Then the author throws the characters (one-by-one) into the mix, and before long, you witness a colourful cast germinate and interact before you.
It's certainly a creative way of establishing all the characters before getting into the thick of things. In the long term, it's a wise course of action as well, as the Fallen series is planned to span across four books. So if we're going to go on a long journey, we want to get to know, love and hate all the protagonists/antagonists.
Throughout the novel, many supernatural elements are touched upon and hinted at, but it isn't until the final chapters when the whole complexity of Fallen changes entirely. Revelations and plot twists kick in and will shock you to the core. And there's nothing cheap about any of it, because the whole read is just wonderfully paced and builds-up to a rip-roaring climax that will leave you hungering for more.
Lauren Kate has certainly gotten her Fallen series off to a strong start. She certainly has a strong understanding of character. Time will tell if her plotting can pay off. I'm certainly intrigued to find out more after such a strong start. Highly recommended.