Review: “Falling into Place” by Amy Zhang

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In this day and age, with Twitter and Facebook and countless blogs and publisher websites competing for attention, it’s hard to avoid hype when it’s painted on harshly across the interwebs. For Falling Into Place, a heavily hyped 2014 debut from teenage debut author Amy Zhang, the hype began with a rather spoiler-filled blurb (yeah, it pretty much gave away the twist) when the book was purchased for publication by Greenwillow, an imprint of Harper Children’s Books. When the accolades began to come in – features at BEA, an Indie Next pick, and a marketing list a mile long on Edelweiss, complete with the featured fact that it was one of Harper’s big books of 2014.

Beyond the twist, the most interesting part in my opinion (and you can read it for yourself or find the spoiler, it’s up to you, but I won’t be revealing), I must admit, this book has almost everything needed to be a book that overcomes the massive amounts of hype behind it. It’s a lovely, fast-paced read about a girl with almost everything going wrong in her life, a girl who ahs victimized others for her own gain and glee, who decides to crash her car and commit suicide. Told in the present and the past, mixing scenes from after the crash with tales of her problems – how she got her friend addicted to drugs, pressuring another friend into an abortion, her mother being overworked and never present, her father’s death… The list goes on.

Zhang, in her debut, crafts an interesting web, but where the story falters is in the execution. The problem here is not the plot, or the story itself. It just comes off so desperate to be the next big book in the vein of Before I Fall that the nuance of high school is lost to tales of woe upon tales of woe. The woe begins and never lets up, until an abrupt and rather unsatisfying ending.

There is something about this book, though, that kept me hooked, and even though at times this book could have used a stiffer editing hand to rein in some of the prose that got a little out of hand and Creative Writing 101.

If you liked Before I Fall, or the idea of exploring the psyche of a bad girl or a girl in crisis, this might be the book for you. It was a book I quite enjoyed, a book that gripped me even though it definitely had its faults. This one is more of a 3.5/5, but if you are into darker contemporary YA and can overlook the stumbles with the prose, this one might be right up your alley.

PS. I really don’t like the cover. This book is dark and very serious, but the cover is almost playful and fun. Ignore the cover when it comes to this one.

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