Author: Gwen Hayes. Release date: 2011. Publisher: NAL Trade. ISBN: 9780451232682.
Plot summary: Theia Alderson is seventeen, but lives the life of a ten-year-old with her over-protective father in the small town of Serendipity Falls, California. After her mother died giving birth to her, Theia’s father insisted upon keeping her safe at all times, refusing to allow her to spend a lot of time with her best friends, Donny and Amelia, forcing her to dress modestly in clothes he’s selected for her, even decorating her room for her. Theia feels like she’s trapped, making her shy and reserved, and she wants nothing more than to go unnoticed by anyone but her two friends at their high school. Everything changes, however, when she begins to dream of a dark but handsome boy who appears to be her age, but is always dressed in old-fashioned finery. Their nightly meetings take place in a beautiful but slightly sinister garden, full of music and grotesque revelers. Theia doesn’t know what to make of her incredibly realistic dreams, especially when she wakes up to discover black roses placed on her bed. Matters are complicated when a new student arrives at Serendipity Falls High School. The mysterious stranger that has the entire school intrigued turns out to be Haden, the handsome boy from Theia’s dreams. Although he won’t acknowledge that they have been meeting nightly, dancing in his enchanted garden, Haden seems fixated on Theia, her skin tingling anytime he gazes in her direction. Unsure of who, or what, Haden is, Theia worries that his arrival in her waking life means much more than the possibility of her having her first boyfriend.
Review: The half-demon, half-human concept is something that seems to be appearing more and more in young adult literature recently, some novels doing a better job of creating an original take on it than others. Fortunately, Falling Under, the first installment in Gwen Hayes’ Falling Under series, takes a common plotline and turns it into something fresh, romantic and more than a little macabre, but, above all, utterly enjoyable. Theia Alderson, the leading lady, is like many teens in young adult novels: sheltered, shy, and longing to break free of what she refers to as her “gilded cage.” Her beau, the darkly handsome Haden, however, is another story. His first appearance in the novel is very unusual: his burning, tortured form falls quietly passed Theia’s window one night, drawing her outside to wonder at how such a person came to be on her back lawn. For the remainder, Haden “steals the show” with his dapper apparel, enchanted yet horrifying garden, and mysterious powers of unknown origin. Theia is powerless against his charms, as is the reader who longs to learn more about just who Haden is. This curiosity will cause most readers to plow through the story until the final pages, and yearn for the sequel, Dreaming Awake, which was, thankfully, released on January 3, 2012. Overall, Falling Under is an engrossing start to a series that most fans of supernatural romance will thoroughly enjoy.
Reading level: Grade 8+
Similar titles: The Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent, Misfit by Jon Skovron, Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey, The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff, Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach.
Themes: Demons, Hell, father-daughter relationships, death, loss, guilt.
Awards/Reviews: Positive reviews from authors Sarah Beth Durst and Rosemary Clement-Moor.
Series Information: First installment in Falling Under series. Second novel, Dreaming Awake, released on January 3, 2012.
- Why do you think Haden was burning when he first fell past Theia’s window?
- Why do you think Haden was so reluctant to touch Theia? Do you think it was the right thing to do?
- Which of Theia’s friends did you like more: Donny or Amelia? Why?
- Why do you think Theia’s father was so protective? How would their relationship be different if her mother was still alive?
- What would you like to see happen between Theia and Haden in Dreaming Awake?