It Starts with an Itch
The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe (Disney Hyperion; 320 pages; $16.99).
Life seems perfect for sixteen-year-old Kaelyn, until a virus ravages her island community. The Way We Fall is book one of The Fallen World trilogy, a new YA dystopian series.
“It starts with an itch you just can’t shake. Then comes a fever and a tickle in your throat. A few days later, you’ll be blabbing your secrets and chatting with strangers like they’re old friends. Three more, and the paranoid hallucinations kick in. And then you’re dead.“
The premise sounds good; Crewe’s execution, though, is faulty. It seems a good idea to set the story on an island, a place accessible only by ferry. At first, the government promises to send medicines and supplies to the residents via the ferry. This is just not enough for those watching their families die. Riots break out, forcing those in control to cease ferry operations. Islanders must scavenge, steal, and loot to survive. Others depend on the kindness of neighbors. I feel setting the story on an island boxes Crewe in. There is just little she can do in such an isolated place. I would have liked to have seen this set in the middle of a country, with some escaping and taking the virus with them. I would have liked to see it spread more.
Crewe is vague on what kind of virus the islanders have. It has no name. Where it comes from is a mystery. She offers an explanation as to why some survive the virus while others die. I want more. I am just not totally convinced.
The story is told through letters Kaelyn writes to a former friend who lives in New York named Leo. At the very end of the novel, Crewe miraculously brings back the ferry with no explanation as to why it is returning at that particular time and not before. Kaelyn sees the ferry approaching and believes she sees Leo on it. Other than this, Leo is absent from the novel. We know him only from Kaelyn’s recollections. Will the next book be from Leo’s perspective? Will he write letters to Kaelyn? The letter format turns me off. Instead, I would have liked to see the story told from multiple points of view.
The Way We Fall is plausible. As I read, I shake my head or nod in agreement. In a situation like this, society as we know it would break down. Social niceties would cease to exist. In that sense, Crewe presents a believable story.
I am sure YA readers will love The Way We Fall. The book makes for good escapism.