Published by: Farrar Straus and Giroux on September 17, 2013
Genre: Apocalyptic, Contemporary, Romance, Science Fiction
Source: BookExpo America
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A novel about the end of days full of surprising beginnings
The world is living in the shadow of oncoming disaster. An asteroid is set to strike the earth in just one week's time; catastrophe is unavoidable. The question isn't how to save the world—the question is, what to do with the time that's left? Against this stark backdrop, three island teens wrestle with intertwining stories of love, friendship and family—all with the ultimate stakes at hand.
Alexandra Coutts's TUMBLE & FALL is a powerful story of courage, love, and hope at the end of the world.
Tumble & Fall is such a tough book for me to review because there were so many things I loved about this book, but there were also some things I didn’t like. I think it’s going to be really hard for me to touch on everything, while still conveying that I enjoyed the book.
Tumble & Fall follows three different plot lines/characters, which all converge at the end. We have Sienna: a girl who just got released from rehab for attempted suicide; Zan: a girl mourning the loss of her boyfriend’s untimely death; and Caden: a boy with an alcoholic mother and an absent father who abandoned him when he was young. We learn about each characters’ stories and relationships in alternating chapters, as they face the inevitable asteroid collision and live out their final days. It actually reminded me of those movies that always get released around Christmastime that have like 4 characters with different stories, but they all come together at the end. Tumble & Fall is very similar to that! (But not at all Christmas-y, hehe.)
I think the easiest thing to do now is break it down into likes and dislikes:
- I like how different each of the characters were. I really cared about their stories and got invested in their individual lives and relationships!
- The book brilliantly feels sad and hopeful at the same time. Some scenes seriously made me want to cry, but others made me feel happy, despite the inevitable doom!
- I like how imperfect the stories in the book are. It’s not all depressing, but it’s not all smiles and butterflies either; there is a great mixture. Some things work out wonderfully and unexpectedly, but others completely fail and don’t pan out at all. There were a lot of things I didn’t expect to happen, because I thought the book would go one way (everything working out) or another (total doomsday with everything going to shit).
- I LOVED Zen’s chapters so much! She definitely stole the spotlight, I think. Hers were most interesting, and kind of most tragic. Despite a few things that went unresolved (see dislikes), I think her character was the most developed, and I definitely found myself relating to her more than the others.
- The book may have been too short and had too many characters to really dig deep. We have 384 pages to alterante between three different characters, each with their own stories, problems, and relationships. As a result, it kind of feels like the author only scratched the surface. Perhaps the book would have been more intense and heart-wrenching if it focused on only one character, or if the book was longer.
- Sort of expanding on the previous point, I feel like some things weren’t quite resolved. I almost didn’t know what to think of them. In particular I’m referring to Zen’s story. View Spoiler » [Zen’s story was all about her still grieving over her boyfriend’s death from 10 months prior. At one point, she questions his loyalty to her, and she has a passionate moment with his best friend, Nick. Then, at the end, she realizes that her boyfriend was loyal all along, and she forgives herself for doubting him. But, I never quite understood how the rest panned out for her. Did she ever move on from her boyfriend? Was she able to put his death behind her? And what about Nick? Did she want to date him now? Or did she officially decide that was a mistake? I felt like her journey was supposed to be about accepting her boyfriend’s death and moving on, but I’m not sure that she ever did. « Hide Spoiler]
- There is a little bit of insta-love in Sienna’s chapters. Keep in mind that this book spans like seven days. Sienna goes from meeting someone to actually saying “I’m in love with you” in that time period.
- I think I was most disconnected from Caden’s chapters. A lot of things in his story just felt so random and oddly strung together.
The Ending: Meh
Tumble & Fall has a bit of a gutsy, ‘leave it to your imagination’ ending. I usually hate it when books are left open-ended, and this was no exception. I think this particular ending leaves the reader with a sense of, “What’s the point?” and that kind of sucks.
Overall, I really enjoyed Tumble & Fall as I was reading it. It was such a breeze to get through and I was easily whipping through the pages! I think most of my “dislikes” come from after I finished the book and spent time reflecting on it. And once I got to the ending, I did have that What’s the point? feeling. I thought that the stories in the book were going to lead somewhere, but I don’t feel like they ever did.
I think that with more expansion, polish, and a better ending, Tumble & Fall could be a really fantastic book, but for now I’m sticking with “okay”.