Saturday, June 9, 2012

Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

Title: Falling Under
Author: Gwen Hayes
Publisher: New American Library
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Pages: 324 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: audiobook clip | book trailer | author website

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 thorugh 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 toward him is stronger than her fear. And as she slowly discovers what Haden truly is, Theia's not sure whether she wants to resist him--even if the cost is her soul.


What a surprise! Though I've had Falling Under on my shelf for months, I didn't expect to like it very much. I wanted to see how someone else wrote about demons (because I have an idea or five about demons stuck in my head), but reviews from friends told me all I felt I needed to know about it. Then I actually got to reading and discovered I liked it. It was this close to being one of my five-star reads, but the romance sunk this ship.

Hayes's descriptions are often so lush I want to do nothing but bask in them; Under and its inhabitants are like a mixture of Alice in Wonderland and Tim Burton films (but not the Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland; more like Corpse Bride). That sort of twisted, nonsensical beauty wowed me. There are multiple scenes I'll be going back to not just because they're great for reference, but because they're well-written and overall fantastic. The tarot-reading at Madame Varnie's, the chaos when the hell noise goes off at Theia's school, and the early dreams Theia has, for instance.

The romance. Oh, the romance. This is my sole problem with the novel and it was bad enough to bring it down quite a few notches. Theia was a well-rounded character for the life her father has forced her to live and I often felt for her, but she got stupid if it had to do with Haden. She's ready to confess that she's in love with Haden by page fifty-three, for Pete's sake! They fell in insta-love and though I can see why Hayes forced them into it, the weakness of their relationship weakens the novel overall because so much depends on their feelings for one another.

You know what the sad thing is? Both Theia and Haden had somewhat legitimate reasons to develop feelings for one another so quickly. Haden has lived in hell all his life and found something that made him happy when he first saw Theia. Meanwhile, Theia has been restrained all her life and when a boy comes along to show interest in her, all the freedom she's never been able to enjoy comes out and she falls head-first in "love". Even when these reasons, they still fall into the insta-love trap and make me want to scream (not the good kind of scream), mostly because Theia never really questions how quickly she falls and doesn't get put of the way she should by Haden's behavior.

I'm not sure I want to read its sequel Dreaming Awake, but I'll keep it in mind because Falling Under was such a pleasant surprise. I originally thought I'd be giving away this novel for credit at the used bookstore, but I'll be holding onto it instead. A girl needs references when she gets writing, after all. I just wish the romance had been restructured and made much stronger. That would have made this a five-star read in my eyes.

3 stars! (But more like 3.5 stars.)

What am I reading next?: Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti