Title: Falling Under (Book 1)
Author: Gwen Hayes
Publisher: March 1, 2011
Publication Date: New American Library (NAL)
Source: ARC from Publisher for Review
Official TUBL Rating: A+
Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, Theia knows she's seen Haden before- not around town, but in her dreams.Seductive and elaborately fabricated, Falling Under's enigmatic world, intertwined with its multifaceted characters are expertly compounded together to create a prominent paranormal debut. In Falling Under, there are two very different, dramatic worlds that are developed simultaneously; Theia's daily life in school and at home, and Haden's dark, mysterious hell. Hayes masterfully fosters many symbolic opposites in the novel; day and night, and real life and hell. The normal reality that Hayes cultivates is convincing and readers will be able to connect with the ordinariness of that particular aspect of Falling Under. In contrast, the paranormal factor in the novel incorporates a more imaginative side to to it. Because the two worlds merge together, a labyrinthine storyline is filled with both dramatic and fantastical elements.
As the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her closer one moment and pushes her away the next, the only thing Theia knows for sure is that the incredible pull she feels towards him is stronger than her fear.
And when she discovers what Haden truly is, Theia's not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul.
Theia's doubtful narrative is immediately magnetic. Her maturity is evident in her strong tone and her established background emphasizes that she's different from everyone else. There's a strong undercurrent of exclusion from Theia's tone that is subtly woven into the novel. Theia is a very controlled and cultured, but with an air of detachment around her. Nevertheless, the lack of presence of Theia's father both in the book and in her life seems to affect her on a more emotional level. Readers will be able to equate themselves with Theia because of the high expectations she has to live up to and her struggle to form a relationship with her father.
Haden is a complicated character with a well-built exterior that exudes coolness and indifference. The difference in his two different personalities--Night Haden and Day Haden--is palpable in the way that he treats Theia in both worlds. And even in Theia's reality, Haden has an otherworldly presence to him. The vivid and creepy descriptions of Haden's hell mirrors one side of him, but his humanity is more and more perceptible as he grows as a character. From the beginning, there is an instant attraction, and Hayes uses that element to contrive an intense relationship between Theia and Haden.
Hayes' prose in Falling Under matches the contemporary and otherworldly components that flows with a harboring undertone of suspense and mystery. The aspects of realism combined with the fantasy provides a balance to the novel. Hayes' addicting, smooth writing coupled with a convoluted plot-line makes for a compelling read.
Falling Under is a stunning play of words and ideas. Hayes' debut will seduce readers to fall under.
The Bottom Line: I loved every single bit of it! I'm eagerly awaiting the sequel to this exciting novel!