Monday, February 28, 2011

Guest Review: "Falling Under" by Gwen Hayes

Woo Hoo-- A guest review! Check out this review of Falling Under by Gwen Hayes, courtesy of Sara of Sara's Urban Fantasy Blog. When you're done with the review, be sure to check out Sara's blog for some more great reviews and giveaways.

Title: Falling Under ARC
Author: Gwen Hayes
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: 03/01/11
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.

Plot: 3.5 Stars
Dreams and visions are not a very unique trope in Paranormal Young Adult novels, but the complexity and terrifying details to the dreams really set this novel apart. Although Haden was the focus of the dreams, there were many other creatures that were both intriguing and revolting at the same time. Even with these dreams, Theia accepted the fact that Haden was a demon much quicker than expected. And it didn’t turn her away; instead it seemed to make her attraction to him stronger. Even when he explains the demon dimension where he was born to her, she still continues to hang onto his every word. The biggest problem with this novel is that the demon dimension was ten times more interesting than the human world, but only a couple chapters take place in the demon dimension. There are even more horrifying creatures to contend with, and there was a lot of lost potential. The majority of the twists and turns of this novel took place in this dimension, but seemed rushed due to the lack of time spent exploring this other world.

Pace: 3 Stars
The beginning of this novel jumps right in. The main character and her friends are introduced, and the reader is easily swept up into Theia’s life. Then Theia’s odd dreams begin and the plot starts to unfold. Haden is introduced and Theia is immediately drawn to him, and he seems to be drawn to her. But then he starts to push her away. This plot line would’ve been fine, if it didn’t repeat itself throughout the middle of the book. Every other chapter Haden was either drawing Theia back in, or pushing her away again. This tug of war happened for at least one hundred pages, and caused the plot to stall to the point where it seemed to be moving about as slow as molasses. As the end of the novel drew near, the whirlwind plot drew the reader back in. The twists and turns were back to turn the reader upside-down. And then it ended. Just like that. There were a number of plot elements left wide open without explanation, and the conclusion of the novel seemed a touch lacking.

Characters: 3 Stars
Theia was an interesting character. She stood out from the other kids at school, but it didn’t bother her like it would most characters. Although she was swept up by Haden, it was refreshing to read about a young adult main character who wasn’t instantaneously obsessed by the bad boy. Theia was a bit sheltered by her father, which was never explained in its entirety. He was a bit absent and distant, and it all stemmed from her mother’s death years earlier. Although he tried to explain, there seemed to be a bit missing from the recollection. Theia’s best friends, Donny and Ame, were a great contrast which made the threesome a very enjoyable group of friends to read about. The touch of New Age and psychic ideas that Ame brought to the table not only came in handy, but helped with the world-building. It allowed the world to branch out beyond just demons, without having to include vampires, werewolves, and everything else in the paranormal bag. Haden failed as the love interest of this story. Whether he was pulling Theia to him, or pushing her away, he never seemed genuine. Something about the way the character was written made him come off as a bit robotic.

Cover: 3 Stars
This is an average cover. In the world of Paranormal Young Adult, this cover blends in with the crowd. The colors are a bit muted; even the red isn’t as bright as it could be. It also doesn’t tell the person browsing the shelves much about the novel. In order to know it’s a paranormal novel based around demons, the novel must be picked up off the shelf and turned over to read the back cover. But the cover model is an accurate depiction of Theia, especially the abundance of blonde curls. The red dress and the black roses in the background are both relevant to the plot as well, which is a nice touch. It just seems as if something is missing (possibly a little detailing around the otherwise simplistic title) that could really make this cover pop.

Overall: 3 Stars

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