Title: Falling Under
Author: Gwen Hayes
Genre: YA Supernatural
Publication Date: March 1, 2011
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.
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 Alderson’s life is transformed when she catches the attention of a new boy at her small city school. All of a sudden, her life goes from typical teenager drama to risking it all for a relationship. Falling Under is half school drama and half supernatural forbidden romance.
One aspect of Falling Under that is unique compared to other novels is that it embraces the darkness that comes when talking about demons. Gwen Hayes doesn’t sugarcoat that people get hurt. Darkness is seductive. Good people do bad things. Under, a world of demons and nightmares, is macabre but alluring in its own way. Hayes also does not stray from talking about sex and physical attraction, which is a welcome change in YA. The target audience is at a time of their life when they are no longer children nor adults. Discussions around sex, drugs, and other taboo topics don’t take place in most YA novels despite their impact among teens.
The premise lend itself for an interesting story, but fell flat due to its characters. On the one hand, Theia is a completely sheltered English teenager who moved to a small town in the U.S. She was defined by her lack of experiences, which would not have been a big problem had she had more drive. In comparison, Haden is a little more well-rounded, but his unsettling obsession with Theia mirrored Edward Cullens too much to make me root for him, despite his backstory.
My biggest peeve was the insta-love between Theia and Haden. While we are eventually informed about why Haden took an interest to her– or sort of anyway– we never see why Theia comes to feel so strongly for him. I find it concerning that books can conflate attraction and love in situations where love interests have not gotten to know each other much. It’s specially frustrating because
Despite the lackluster protagonists, the secondary characters have significantly more ambition and personality. Amy is a best-friend next door interested in the occult. Donny is a badass and seductress, with a weak spot for good guys. The relationship between these characters is a lot of fun to read about.
Falling Under is a fairly standard supernatural story but not particularly well-executed.