Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

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I received this book for free from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Falling Into Place by Amy ZhangFalling Into Place by Amy Zhang
Published by Greenwillow Books on September 9th 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Source: HarperCollins
Buy on Amazon

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road. 

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

I can’t even count the number of people who messaged me their love for this book on the day that I started it. Because of that I was pretty hopeful that I would be a fan as well. Upon finishing I can say that while I was smitten with the unique perspective it quickly got very dry for me and the novel is one that I had to force myself to pick up just to get through.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about Falling Into Place is the unique way in which it is told. Now, apparently telling you whose perspective this whole tale comes from would be a spoiler (which I don’t agree with because it’s very clear from the first few pages who this…entity is, but I won’t spoil.) What I will say is that while this was a fun, fresh perspective in the beginning I quickly grew tired of how detached it made me from the strife and emotion of the novel. This is a heavy book; depression, drug addiction, bullying, suicide, abortion and rape are just a few of the issues that are tackled and normally that would be something I would get so lost in and it would wreck me. Unfortunately because the story is from this fresh perspective I was left feeling very detached from all of the pain and suffering in the novel. It felt very much like I was an impartial passerby which didn’t allow me to fully understand the motivations and inner workings of a lot of the characters.

Not only did I feel a detachment to the emotion that was attempted to be portrayed with the story but I also didn’t come to connect with any of the characters. The leading lady here is Liz Emerson who spends the novel in a coma after attempting to commit suicide by driving her car off a cliff. I think that if I was able to get into her head I would have been able to understand her a bit better but I just really disliked her for the entirety of the novel. She was horrible, which I can be ok with but she knew she was horrible the whole time. She would do things and then we would see a moment of her realizing how horrible what she just did was but she would just keep on going being a raging bitch. There was never really a moment where she thought “oh man, I realize how evil I have gotten and I really need to make a change here” it was more “I’m a horrible bitch but it’s okay to continue being like this because I’m just going to off myself anyway.” That just had me feeling like “well then do it already!” instead of feeling bad for her. The sad occurrences in the life of her two closest friends also failed to touch me on any emotional level which is very weird of me when reading about this subject matter.

Now for my last issue with the novel. I’m sure from the first sentence of the last paragraph a comparison to Gayle Forman’s If I Stay popped into your head and believe you me that comparison was in my head the whole time I read Falling Into Place. My conclusion on how the two novels measure up is that Falling Into Place is all of If I Stay with none of the emotion. I liked the story here, I liked the idea behind it all but it failed to resonate with me on any level. After a positive first sit down with the novel I found myself having to convince myself to pick it up to make my way to the end. I realize that my negative review here is a needle in a haystack of glowing ones, so I think this one really comes down to the narration just not working for me. If you are someone that it works for, I think this novel could definitely be a homerun.


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12 Responses to “Review: Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang”

  1. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I was wary of downloading this book when it became available on EW and it looks like I was right in not getting a copy.
    I would have huge issues with the main character, especially if she doesn’t ever change in the book. It’s a shame you weren’t emotionally able to connect with this book but it screams a Jenni kind of book from the synopsis.
    Sorry this was such a disappointment, Jenni. Great review!

  2. Rowena

    You know, I’ve been seeing good reviews of this everywhere that I got a little nervous so thanks for your review, it definitely puts me on guard but not off the book.

  3. Wendy @ Book Scents

    I actually wasn’t sure if I’d like this one when I first read about it but I got it from BEA and then started seeing lots of people liking it. Soo now I’m hesitant. I’ll see how how it goes when I get to it!

  4. Lauren

    I’m sorry to hear this didn’t work for you, with books like this you have to have an emotional connection to the characters or it will just fall completely flat. I’m not sure this book would work for me either, and I’d undoubtedly be comparing it to If I Stay the entire time. Thanks for your thoughtful review!

  5. Renae @ Respiring Thoughts

    Oh dear! This does sound like it could be good, and I’m curious about finding out who/what the narrator is, but not at the cost of suffering through an emotionless novel. I didn’t really like If I Stay in the first place, so if you say this is similar-but-less-good, it may not be the book for me. Too bad, though, Jenni—it’s no fun to not love a book you thought would be good.

  6. Jasprit

    I’m sorry that this book didn’t end up working for you Jenni, but I can understand your reasons for the two star rating. Also so far I’ve been reading lots of praising reviews for this book, so its nice to get a differing opinion!

  7. Laura Plus Books

    I have this one on my shelf but I haven’t gotten around to it. I’ve seen quite a few rave reviews and have a lot of people telling me that it will be amazing as well. Although, I’m starting to see more and more negative review. Thank you for being so honest! To be honest, I don’t think the detachment will bother me too much. I think it if were anymore personal, it’d be too much for me to handle. But I guess I’ll just have to see!