The Way We Fall
Disney Hyperion, January 2012
Also available in hardcover
From the publisher—
When a deadly virus begins to sweep through sixteen-year-old Kaelyn’s community, the government quarantines her island—no one can leave, and no one can come back.
Those still healthy must fight for 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?
Islands have frequently been a favorite setting for fiction involving some sort of disaster, natural or otherwise, and the reason is simple—the reader knows there is a likelihood there will be no rescue from the outside and the islanders must fend for themselves in the best way possible. That distinctly ratchets up the anxiety level for the characters and the reader. Such is the case with The Way We Fall and the author has created a really good story with moments of both frustration and suspense that builds as tension increases. [Note: this book is frequently categorized as a thriller but that is really not accurate as the pacing is, at times, rather slow.]
The idea that teens would be the ones to develop a foraging and distribution system for food, medications and other necessities is certainly not new but I think it works better in this novel than in some others. In the event of an epidemic, it would be very natural for the adults with expertise, education and certain skills to concentrate their attention on the most pressing details which, in this case, is the unidentified virus and its extremely high death rate. This scenario also works because the island is initially well-provisioned with food and other needed items and it’s not until the electricity fails that the adults become more cognizant of the world outside the hospital doors.
As you might expect, there are islanders who take advantage of the situation but this was one area in which I felt something of a void. I really would expect some of the miscreants to be adults and that there would be far more looting and violence. In a way, although some readers might see this as a means of making the story more appropriate for younger readers, I just felt it showed an unrealistic mildness, with an almost dumbing-down effect.
Kaelyn is a well-rounded character and we see her compassion, intelligence, strength and self-reliance, as well as some indications of very natural fear and a longing for a grown-up to take charge. Tessa also is an appealing character, as is Gav, but I definitely felt a desire to know them better and I hope Ms. Crewe will offer more in the next book. Other characters were less developed and, as a result, didn’t generate much empathy on my part with the possible exception of Kae’s brother, Drew. I must say, though, that it was very refreshing to find a central character who is biracial and another who is homosexual but the author does a nice job of showing how a person who is different is regarded without hitting the reader with a two-by-four.
The one character that I felt was decidedly lacking was Kaelyn’s father. I just don’t believe that, even though his expertise made him crucial to the work of identifying and treating the virus, he would be so neglectful of his own family. It was as though he took the “needs of the many” much too far, with dire effects.
Overall, The Way We Fall is an entertaining story and, although it certainly has some slow passages, it still manages to be a quick read. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy, The Lives We Lost, due out next February.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2012.