Saturday, August 23, 2014

How to Fall by Jane Casey

{Review} How to Fall
Title: How to Fall (Jess Tennant #1)
Author: Jane Casey
Published: August 26th, 2014 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Pages: 352

{Thank you St. Martin’s Griffin and Netgalley for providing this in return for an honest review}

Sixteen-year-old Jess Tennant has never met any of her relatives, until her mom suddenly drags her out of London to spend the summer in the tiny English town where her family’s from. Her mom’s decision is surprising, but even more surprising is the town’s reaction to Jess. Everywhere she goes, people look at her like they’ve seen a ghost. In a way, they have—she looks just like her cousin Freya, who died shortly before Jess came to town.

Jess immediately feels a strange connection to Freya, whom she never got to meet alive. But the more Jess learns about the secrets Freya was keeping while she was alive, the more suspicious Freya’s death starts to look. One thing is for sure: this will be anything but the safe, boring summer in the country Jess was expecting.

I really, really, really wanted to like this book, but unfortunately I just could not get past all the problems I had with it.  The idea for this book is really interesting and I even really liked the sub-plot as well, however, it was poorly executed.  This book did not evoke any emotions at all, I was not rooting for the main character, and I did not even want to finish this book.  The only thing that kept me reading (other than this being a review copy) was that I hoped that it would switch gears and the ending would blow me away.  Unfortunately, the ending was predictable and still had me skimming the pages so I could finish it. 

The writing in this book was not bad, but the pacing was somewhat slow at times and Casey added a lot of details that had nothing to do with the plot and did not strengthen character development.  Having to read all the extra content really made the book extremely slow in some areas and I did find my attention wandering many times.  I thought that the last 60% of the book was better paced and I did become more interested in the plot.  The plot in this book was such a great and unique idea.  I like that Jess and Freya almost looked like twins, but I wish there would have been some depth to that instead of it just being a fact.  I thought possibly there was going to be a deeper connection between the two characters other than their looks.  I also had a very hard time grasping the fact that Jess came into a town she had never been in and was positive that Freya had not committed suicide, but had been murdered.  It was like she instantly knew without any hesitation that Freya was killed even though there had been a police investigation.  I was pleasantly surprised by the sub-plot, which is a mystery about Jess’s mother and Dan (Will’s father).  I was much more interested in that plot development by the end of this book than I was with the one about Freya.  

The ending to this book was very lack luster.  It progressed really quickly and the way to solve who the murderer was seemed like it came from an episode of Scooby Doo.  It lacked any logic and was not innovative in the least bit.  Although there was absolutely no foreshadowing about the ending, I was not in the least bit shocked when I found out the big reveal.  I just felt like it was so ridiculous and then wrapped up too easily.  I also do not like that this book is the first in a series.  I do not think that it needs to be a series and should have been completed in one book.  I think that dragging it out for another book or two would be excessive.

I think my main issue with this book was the character development.  I do like when authors make their main character have characteristics that are real and may not be liked, but it is also hard to root for a character when she is completely rude and lacks any other redeeming qualities.  The moment Jess arrived in town, she started interrogating people about Freya and not in a nice way either.  She had a snarky attitude (and not in a good way) and always came off rude.  She was also hypocritical because she constantly judged other characters in the story for chasing after guys and being vain, but she also was super insecure about her relationship with Will and was devastated when she had to cut her hair.  I hated that all the female characters in this book (except for Petra) were portrayed as shallow and vain.  I did really like Petra (Freya’s sister), as well as Freya.  I felt like Casey was able to show readers what Freya’s personality was like and have them understand her character even though she was not present.  I think it would be interesting to have a prequel that shows more of Freya’s character and played out how she died.  I did not really like Will’s character at all, I felt like he was underdeveloped and I did not know anything about him.  I did like Dan and how Casey made readers question if his intentions are good or bad.  

The romance in this book was really lacking.  Usually I love books that include romance, even if it is just a side part of the plot, but I would almost think this book would have been better if it had been left out completely.  I did not think it drove the plot forward and I felt like it was just a distraction for more important elements.  I never felt any chemistry between Jess and Will, which made me really bored with their romance.  I was more interested in Jess’s mother and Dan’s romance because it was more interesting and intriguing.

Overall, I think that the mystery/suspense aspects of this book fell way short.  There are other YA books that have a more intricate and intriguing mystery than the one that was portrayed in this book.  However, I do think that this book could appeal to some new YA readers who don’t have any experience reading more complicated mystery plots.  I am really unsure if I want to continue on with the series because the one part that interests me would be the relationship of Dan and Jess’s mother.  I will more than likely cut my losses and spend my time reading a different book where I am more invested in the characters.   


If you enjoy crime thrillers, be sure to check out Jane Casey's other books on her website here

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