“This is life, not a rehearsal…When River auditions for a part in an inter-school performance of Romeo and Juliet, she finds herself smitten by Flynn, the boy playing Romeo. River believes in romantic love, and she can’t wait to experience it. But Flynn comes from a damaged family – is he even capable of giving River what she wants? The path of true love never did run smooth.”
Falling Fast by Sophie McKenzie – (Simon and Schuster, 2012) borrowed from my local library.
Yay! It’s set in the UK! Gotta love any book that uses words like ‘slag’ and ‘wanker’ effectively.
This book took me by surprise. I’ve not read anything by Sophie McKenzie before, and I’m not ashamed to say that I just really liked the cover… A quick look at the blurb and hello Shakespeare! I was sold.
The writing itself was fantastic! I was worried at first that the age of the story might have been a bit young, but actually, I think there is something slightly different, culturally speaking, about teenagers/young adults here as apposed to America. It’s not hugely significant, but enough for me to feel it, you know?
So what worked for me?
Characters – All of them. There were no duds. I think River’s brother was a bit wooden (ha! That’s funny because he’s called ‘Stone’) and I wasn’t entirely sold on his Kevin and Perry attitude he had going on. But everyone else was really great. A colourful cast of characters and I thought River herself was someone that many can and will identify with.
Flynn’s temperament – I really admire how McKenzie adopts a realistic approach here. As in, River’s reactions reflect that of a teen who wouldn’t have had any previous experience with potentially destructive personalities or relationships. As a reader it’s a little uncomfortable because it’s like ‘kick him in the balls!’ but heck, if I were in her shoes, I probably would have acted the same way. It was also good to watch her figure it all out and they both come to some kind of level thinking.
The feels – For me, the balance between action and feels was just right. I think there’s just enough focus on other stuff to not be overwhelmed, or fed up, but River’s worries and sensitivity is tangible and I found it compelling.
Important lessons! – I think there’s an important lesson here, about love, that even us adults (shh.. we can keep that a secret..) can do with remembering sometimes. Real life is not how it appears in the books! Ha! I love how passionate River is- her need to have this ‘One Big Love’ is endearing and I totally get that, but on the other hand, it’s not realistic, and she is forced to compromise.
What didn’t work for me?
Phrasing – Most of the Britishisms worked really well. But some of them clanged, and it’s only because I can’t remember using all of them as a teenager myself. It just felt forced in places.
Flynn’s temperament – Whereas I thought this was a positive aspect, I felt a little wary of it too. Resolved or not, I’m not entirely sure River wasn’t simply placating him at times, rather than telling him to man up! Especially how he acted in front of her mum, that was not cool.
I enjoyed this book and I’ll definitely read on through the series. I wonder how it will feel with the Shakespeare element dropped (since they’ve finished the play) but I’m interesting to seeing how things will unfold. A happy 4 out of 5. Sophie McKenzie is a firm favourite on my list for YA now. *thumbs*