Buy The Way We Fall
Reviewer: Melissa on March 19, 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
It starts with one case of an itch that won’t go away, then the fever and a throat tickle follow. Before you know it you’re telling things to virtual strangers that you would usually have kept under wraps, and finally, hallucinations make you attack the people you hold most dear. And then, as if things couldn’t get worse, you die. In Megan Crewe’s The Way We Fall, a deadly virus sweeps through sixteen-year-old Kaelyn’s island community and the government, in the interest of safety, quarantine the island. Soon the bodies pile up, but those who are still healthy find it increasingly difficult to remain so all while they fight for the dwindling supplies in an effort to survive. Old rivals become friends in the face of danger and new love blossoms in a world gone wrong, but Kaelyn (“Kae”) keeps holding on to the belief that there has to be a way to save the people she loves most. Because what’s the point of surviving when all of the connections you have in this world are lost?
As with a few other YA books that I’ve read recently, such as Eric Walters and Teresa Toten’s The Taming, Abby McDonald’s Getting Over Garrett Delaney and Tom Ryan’s Way To Go, I picked up Crewe’s The Way We Fall because it was short-listed for the OLA’s 2013 White Pine Award. (I’ve been challenging myself to read each of the 10 nominees before the award’s ceremony on May 15, 2013, and I’m almost there.) Anyway, I’m really glad that I picked up this dystopian YA novel, the first in the Fallen World Trilogy, because there is something really powerful about it’s vacillation between poignant moments and an optimism that helps the main and secondary characters demonstrate that they’re stronger than they may have initially thought. It’s a novel that makes the reader question what they would do if they were in Kae’s situation, but at the same time shows them that hope exists in the direst circumstances.
Divided into three sections entitled, “Symptoms,” “Quarantine,” and “Mortality,” this novel flows much like a three act play, where the first act introduces the world and problem that the characters are meant to face, the second act offers further complications and dangers, and in the final act places every character in mortal danger. In each section, the stakes get higher, but rather than give up, the characters become more than who they might initially seem. Some characters, like Kae, grow stronger. Others, like Tessa, become increasingly three-dimensional the more the reader and Kae become acquainted with her. However, if you’re thinking that this is just another first-person apocalyptic novel, where the self-contained island is the extent to which readers are privy, too, then think again. Yes, this novel is written from Kae’s perspective, which is at times unreliable or at least, just without all the facts about her world and the people in which she inhabits it. However, Crewe decided to use the second-person through Kae’s perspective of the world, and she does so, quite cleverly, through a journal that Kae writes in religiously addressed to Leo, a character that we never meet in the first novel because he left the island before the virus started to study at a school on the mainland, and who was, at one time, Kae’s best friend, only they haven’t spoken for quite some time. By using the second person in the way she does, Crewe gives readers a more expansive world than they would have should Kae’s thoughts only and always be directed to her present, claustrophobia-inducing circumstances.
It goes without saying, I think, that I loved this fast-paced novel and think that both teen readers and other adults with a love for YA will appreciate The Way We Fall as well. If I had to give any criticism of it though, I would have to say that because the predominance of Kae’s knowledge comes from her father (other than the information she pieces together herself), the dialogue between them sometimes appears heavy handed. Nevertheless, every detail he mentions or that Kae mentions about him figures into something important. With The Way We Fall, there are no loose ends, only new beginnings that I can’t wait to explore in book two, The Lives We Lost.
Buy The Way We Fall today!