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.
When sixteen-year-old Kaelyn lets her best friend leave for school without saying goodbye, she never dreams that she might not see him again. But then a strange virus begins to sweep through her small island community, infecting young and old alike. As the dead pile up, the government quarantines the island: no one can leave, and no one can come back.
Those still healthy must fight for the island’s dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.
Because how will she go on if there isn’t?
One of the never ending obsessions that I will always, always have are apocalyptic stories. And from all the world ending scenarios, the killing virus has always been one of my favorites (rivaling with zombie stories probably ^_^). Therefore, the moment I read the description of The Way We Fall, it instantly became a must read. And even if I only rated it with 3 stars, because of some negative aspects that I’ll cover later, overall, I loved reading it.
I haven’t check other reviews yet, but I’m guessing it’s very possible for a lot of people to be disappointed by this book. Contrary to what you might expect when it comes to an apocalyptic novel, The Way We Fall is not really a fast-paced story. The description sounds way more impressive or grand than the actual acts that are taking place in the world of Kaelyn.
Returning to live on an island with her family, the protagonist, a sixteen-year-old girl, has the usual teenager concerns: adapting to the new school, becoming a better person, making friends or getting out of her comfort zone. But what she doesn’t know is that soon, the so-called problems that she has are going to be a joke, compared to what’s coming next. Slowly, without any warnings, an epidemic infection starts making victims on the remote island. And all of a sudden, Kaelyn’s whole world shatters and all the people she loves and cherishes are falling victims of it, one after another. Being separated from the coast and isolated by the government, the survivors must find a way to discover a cure and in the same time, deal with the depletion of resources and with the rebellious groups determined to turn the disastrous situation into a living hell.
The absolute mind blowing fact is how casual and completely non-heroic the whole story is. Every single book or movie that treats the apocalyptic topic will have heroic characters that protect everyone around them, that keep their loved ones safe (and alive!) and manage to magically find the cure that will eventually save the world. But one question that’s always been in my mind is… if something like that would ever happen in reality, how ignorant would we be, how unprepared to deal with this and how easily would we all collapse? We are not heroes, we’d have no support from the governments that are probably incapable to deal with the chaos, we live in our protective glass bubbles that would suddenly explode into millions of pieces. Realistically speaking, we wouldn’t be able to save anybody, not ourselves, not our families or friends, much less the whole world. We’d literally be at the mercy of pure luck or faith, not able to do much except for maybe putting on a breathing mask, avoiding crowded places and some other small, irrelevant and probably useless safety measures.
And that, ladies and gents, that is exactly what happens in Megan Crewe’s novel! None of her characters is a hero. Not any of them is a former CIA, United Nations or FBI employee, to know what to do in case of disaster and to have higher connections that would save them. They are all regular people, with regular lives and with their hands tied up in front of the catastrophe they’re facing. So all they can do is help each other in modest ways, to organize themselves in the chaos surrounding them in order to get the feeling of a purpose, the illusion that they are doing something, whatever they can, however small that is, instead of just doing nothing and waiting to die.
I was surprised and I absolutely adored this new approach on the topic, it’s not something that I remember reading in any other books. The downside is that it doesn’t really offer a thrilling experience. There’s not a lot of action going on, there are very few pages that leave you breathless and craving for more. You can literally put the book down at any given time and then forget about it for several days. Of course you’ll still have a tingle of curiosity, but The Way We Fall is definitely not one of those reads that make you stay awake till 5AM in order to finish it.
There’s not much to say about the characters. They’re mostly colored in black and white, being either the good ones or the villains. Not a lot of substrate, not somebody you’d adore or hate from the bottom of your heart.
Of course, since it’s an YA book, there’s a love story developing and weirdly, it didn’t make me roll my eyes. I understand how, despite the catastrophic events (or actually because of them?), the surviving instincts would be accompanied by the need of fellowship and the feeling of belonging, in order to compete with the growing despair. Plus, there was nothing forced or exaggerated in the romance, no sudden Romeo and Juliet vibe, so the addition of the love story was welcomed.
If you’re ready for a slower and less impressive storyline than the usual end-of-the-world novels that you’re accustomed with, give it a shot. It’s definitely a fresh approach of the apocalyptic stories and if you’re not starting it with huge expectations, you might find yourself hooked on after the first few pages.