Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Falling Under by Gwen Hayes
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.(Summary and Picture from Good Reads).
I had no idea what to expect from this novel having not read any of the reviews before I started it. I didn't want to know anything about it. And let me tell you, this was seriously scary to me. It was a cross between Alice in Wonderland, The Corpse Bride and Lemony Snickett. But it was all terrifying because for a good part of the book I had no idea what Haden was and he wouldn't tell. He wouldn't touch Theia in either the waking or dreaming world yet made her achingly aware that he wanted to and therefore she ached to touch him. Her first sight of him his very disturbing and the macabre revelers with him are repulsive. When she wakes in the morning there is always the disturbing proof that what she experienced was all too real.
Theia's mother is dead, we don't know how for a good part of the book but can guess at a certain point in the book. Theia is under her father's thumb literally. He has a shopper pick out her clothes, khaki pants and sweater sets. The only variation is in color. Her room is decorated by a designer to fit, not Theia's tastes but what a girl her age should want. Not personalized by clothes or her room, their relationship is not personalized either. They barely talk and Theia longs for affection. She bends to her father's every rule all in the hopes of keeping her safe. Theia's mother was wild and look where it got her.
But even Father's rules can't keep Theia from the lure of Haden and he cannot stay away from her. And once she's fallen under, it takes her friends to get her back. And once she is under she's not so sure she wants to leave Haden behind.
Theia is a well developed character and grows from a scared little mouse to a wet sponge to a strong, determined girl bent on getting what she wants. However, she's not quite sure of the rules and who she's messing with. Haden, seems like a first class jerk at first. But then we start seeing the parts of him that Theia sees. Why she likes him. Then they disappear. He is the most enigmatic of all the characters until we find out exactly what he is, then all is explained.
The side characters are great and at times add to the tension or the comic relief. Donny (Donnatella) and Ame (Amelia) are Theia's best friends. They both always have her back. Donny is always on the prowl for guys and never stays with one long enough to tie herself down. Ame has been in love with the same boy for 4 years. Madame Varnie who happens to be a 19 years old boy that is a real psychic. And then there's Gabe hopelessly in love with Donny and Mike hopelessly ignorant of everything but food. He is most ignorant of the fact that he is Ame's crush. They all serve their purpose in the story which is well told and seamless. The build up to the terror is better than I've read in a long time keeping in mind I read YA and do not read Stephen King. But this terror had me glad I was reading in the daylight even if the wind was howling.
Here are a few sentences to tempt you taste buds: "...I witnessed my own shadow shifting apart from me on the canvas of the wall. I jerked from the unnatural sensation of seeing myself disengaged. My shadow turned to look behind her and then she ran frantically. I watched her, fascinated as she ran a circle around the room, trapped on the wall yet oddly not attached to me any longer.....All at once she stopped racing and spun around and upside down like a pinwheel, getting smaller and smaller. Then the other shadows in the room began funneling towards her disappearing shape, and they too whirled like water around a drain. In horror, I watched them all swirl into a pinpoint and disappear.....I padded in that direction, only to stop short in front of my mirror. I wasn't in it. I had no reflection, though everything behind me was clearly visible." Freaky huh? That isn't the worst of it. It's actually only the beginning. And I'm so glad this only the first book in the series. For a debut novel, this is really outstanding! Actually, even if it wasn't a debut novel, it's outstanding. It's got a great romance in it. There is only the hint of sex in it. There are probably a few bad words in it. But there is sexual innuendo in it. I'd let my 14 year old read it if I thought he'd be interested at all. I think I read it so fast none of these things registered with me. The ending was satisfying but left enough of a cliffhanger that you could draw your own conclusions or wait for the next book. I purposely left out some labels so it wouldn't spoil things for anyone reading this review.
Heather in Sandwich