Monday, December 13, 2010

Book Review: Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

While reading Falling Under I alternated between disliking it and not being able to put it down. The story is reminiscent of Jim Henson’s The Labyrinth in the sense that nothing is what it seems and that a young, innocent girl finds herself inexplicably caught between two worlds. Much like Sarah who journeys to the Labyrinth to challenge the Goblin King who wishes to possess her, Theia travels to Under only to become the fixation of Haden—a mysterious supernatural being that exists both in her reality and in her dreams. You can’t quite call what Theia and Haden feel for one another love, because quite frankly the two haven’t known each other long enough to develop that level of passion. Therefore, obsession is the only way to describe this fascination that they have with one another.

The story is rather straightforward in that it centers on a girl who lives under the close scrutiny of her overprotective father. In the years since moving to America from London Theia has had to live vicariously through her two best friends. Theia’s father has denied her what all teenage girls dream of experiencing as they get older, such as going to parties and dating boys. When she meets bad boy Haden, up becomes down and down becomes up and it takes all of Theia’s strength just to keep her footing while straddling the two worlds. For once there is no one else competing for the protagonist’s affections. Rather it is just a constant battle of wills between Theia and the strange boy that has suddenly become the center of her universe.

The portion of the story that I did not enjoy had to do with the melodrama between the two main characters. Haden makes every effort to seduce Theia, but refuses to allow them to touch, claiming that horrible things will happen should they ever have physical contact. Theia in return makes it her mission to touch him at every opportunity, as well as discover his true motives for being in her world instead of the dream world where he so obviously belongs. Imagine my disappointment when they to do finally touch and their heads don’t explode and the world doesn’t collapse in upon itself! Honestly, the whole scene was rather anticlimactic.

Falling Under is at its strongest when Theia is in Under. The creatures that live in this strange world are both disturbing and fascinating. The world itself is described in delicious detail allowing the imagination to run wild with the possibilities. Also, most of the suspense and intrigue came about when Theia was in Under, making these portions of the book far more interesting than when she is wallowing at home or at school. Another high point was seeing how the relationship between Theia and her father changed as the two steadily began to be more honest with one another. In the beginning Theia’s father is very one dimensional seeing as how we are lead to believe that he is an evil tyrant. However, as Theia and her father slowly open up to one another, the readers learn the circumstances behind Theia’s mother’s death and why it is so difficult for Theia’s father to talk about his late wife or show his only daughter affection. As a debut novel Falling Under succeeded in that it had an interesting premise and imaginative world building, but the rest of the story fell short of my expectations and left me feeling disappointed. 

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Want to read another review of Falling Under? Go check out Book Kritik!


  1. "Imagine my disappointment when they to do finally touch and their heads don’t explode and the world doesn’t collapse in upon itself" LOL! That would have been exciting and definitely would have made me interested in reading the book.

  2. You know, I've seen this around, and I've been super excited about it, but I am SO glad to read your honest take on it. So often, books are hyped better than they actually are. I'll probably read this, but I'll take my time. Great review, Laura :)

  3. I agree with Melissa, I appreciate your honest review. I'm still curious to read this one, but I'll adjust my expectations. Thank you!

  4. Pretty much what I thought as well. I linked your review and quoted you as well. Plus, I LOVE your review.

  5. Sigh, it seems like the prettier the book cover, the worse the inside seems to be. Thanks for the reviews ^.^

    Sniffly Kitty
    Sniffly Kitty's Mostly Books
    New Meme: Third Sentence Thursday!

  6. Aylee: Having their heads explode or the world collapse in upon itself would have definitely been more interesting then what actually happened!

    Melissa and Small Review: No problem! I always try to be honest in my reviews.

    Book Kritik: Thanks! I thought your review was awesome too!

    Sniffly Kitty: I completely agree! I think the opposite it true too. Really great books tend to have so-so covers, while so-so books tend to look gorgeous.

  7. Wow. I'm sorry you didn't like this book much. I haven't read it yet, but if ever I do, I'll try not to expect too much. To make up for a rather disappointing read, why don't you go on and read Dash and Lily's Book of Dares? I have finally posted my review. Thank you for stopping by my blog.

    Brush Up On Your Reading

  8. Aw, too bad this one was a little disappointing, I was really looking forward to it! The angst between Theia and Haden does sound a little much, and I tend to get irritated when there's too much angst. I'll definitely keep your thoughts in mind if I give it a go, thanks for the honest review.

    And I see you're reading Born at Midnight now, I can't wait for that one! Looking forward to your full review:)

  9. Nina B: I definitely plan to read Dash and Lily's Book of Dares! In fact, I just picked up a copy of it today at the library!

    Jenny: I know what you mean. Too much angst always puts me off a book. So far I'm really enjoying Born at Midnight and I hope to finish it this weekend and post my review early next week :o)

  10. MMM. "Delicious Detail," I love that phrase - it would be a great blog for cookbook reviews.

    Old Follower. Stephanie Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust
    Twitter: @fangswandsfairy

  11. Hmm, I missed this post for some reason. I know I have Falling Under in my wishlist so it's too bad it didn't meet your expectations. I think I'll see if the library has a copy for it then.

  12. Steph: It WOULD be a great name for a cookbook blog!

    Canadian Girl: Even though you missed this post initially, I'm glad you found it! Definitely get Falling Under from the library. That's the best way to test out whether or not you'll like a book. I rarely ever buy a book that I haven't already read.

  13. Eeek! 2.5 stars. That's definitely disappointing. I like your honest review. The book sounds interesting. I loved Labyrinth. I might check it out at the library when it comes out.

  14. Julie: I love The Labyrinth too. Too bad Haden wasn't more like the Goblin King :oP It's definitely a good idea to check it out from the library first to see if you'll like it.