It was refreshing to read a young adult book that does not involve a dystopian society, fairy tale creatures, or teens in impossibly adult situations. No, The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe is just about…a contagious, deadly disease. You know, regular ol’ stuff.
Actually, I quite liked The Way We Fall for exploring a topic that – although a bit fantastic – is easy enough to imagine happening in real life.
Kaelyn is a 16-yo girl living on a island in Canada. She’s just moved back after living with her family in the “big city” of Toronto for five years, and she’s having a tough time re-adjusting to friends and her old life. The book is written as a journal to her friend, Leo, who has left for dance school in New York City.
At first Kaelyn starts by chronicling her everyday challenges and “new attitude,” but soon begins to make note of islanders coming down with a strange illness that causes coughing, sneezing, incessant itching, and removed social inhibitions. As Kaelyn’s dad is the only microbiologist on the island, he is in charge of overseeing much of the care of the patients and research into a possible cure for this mutated virus.
Although I liked the journal approach for telling the story, I had a few problems with it. Namely, the limitations it set on exploring some plot points that otherwise went nowhere. I didn’t know quite what to make of Kaelyn’s friend Tess and her obsession with her greenhouse, or Kaelyn’s boyfriend Gav and his supposed “fight club.” Or even something as potentially revelatory like a less violent strain of the virus that went through the island the previous summer, apparently leaving some people partially immune. I wondered why introduce such things into the story and then just let them sit there? These ideas were never fully fleshed-out, which may have been because the entire book was told simply from Kaelyn’s point of view (and what she bothered to record in the journal).
On the flip side, if this really was a journal, it seemed pretty unrealistic that there was so much dialogue between characters, complete with proper punctuation.
The teen romance in this book was also a little flat. At one point, Kaelyn confesses her affection for Leo, but because Leo is just some distant character we never really meet in the story, it’s hard to feel much more than apathy as a reader. Amid the stress and survival on the island, Kaelyn and uber-responsible Gav meet up and become an item, but again, there isn’t enough pop and sizzle to register very high on the romance scale.
Still, despite my reservations, I did like this book. It definitely gave me the creeps considering the idea of being trapped on an island with a vicious, unknown virus, citizens going rogue in the face of social breakdown, and a government who would cut off all contact and supplies to let nature take its course.
The Way We Fall is a quick read, and the perfect book to borrow when you’re in the mood for a little food for thought.
- Reading level: Ages 12 and up
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Hyperion Book CH (January 24, 2012)
*Disclosure: A review copy of this book was sent to me by Hyperion with no obligation to post. I received no compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.
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