Monday, November 19, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: "Fall for Anything" by Courtney Summers

WHY I PICKED IT UP: Courtney Summers' This is Not a Test was one of the most highly-anticipated YA releases of the summer. While waiting for it to come into the library, I perused some of her other titles, and this summary caught my eye. Mysteries in photographs? The suicide of a loving father? I needed to know what the answer to this interesting scenario was.

Fall for AnythingWHAT IT'S ABOUT: The description on the book (and consequently on Goodreads) is kind of misleading so I'll break this down in my own way. Teenager Eddie and her mother are suffering from the sudden, unexpected suicide of her father, who was a brilliant photographer-turned-partial-recluse. And things keep getting worse. Her best- and really only - friend Milo is suddenly hanging out with his ex?-girlfriend again, deepening the chasm that's been forming between Eddie and him. Her mother's best friend Beth, who is in total denial about getting older, has moved in and decided to control Eddie's life. And suddenly there's Culler Evans, a private student that Eddie's father had but never told anyone about.

Culler might not be all bad, though. In fact, he seems pretty cool - and maybe the only one who understands what Eddie's going through. Together, Culler and Eddie try to get to the bottom of the suicide by using a set of artful, but nondescript, photographs left behind.

*Summers' writing style shows why the story can only be told in first person. There is so much voice. You aren't just reading Eddie's thoughts, you're reading her thought processes. It's engaging.

*The dialogue between characters, specifically Eddie and Milo, feels very real. Sometimes I would think "Hey- I know these people!" because they speak like my friends.

*Her setups from chapter to chapter kept me very enticed and turning pages quickly. This book flew by.


[Warning: I'm going to be as vague as possible but there will be some allusions to later points in the book.]

*Some of the boy drama feels forced and I was kind of confused about how Eddie felt. She seemed to say she wanted some things at one point and then completely brushed them off later when opportunities arose.

*There is, in the last quarter of the book, kind of a feeling of pointlessness. The clearest resolutions are ones to problems that were not at the forefront of my mind, and I was not even sure how they came about, exactly. Too many question marks still remain. This is something that can be done, if done correctly, but I didn't feel like it was.

*I'm not convinced that Eddie changed by the end of the novel, something that is unusual for protagonists and only really works if it's acknowledged, like this lack of a change was done on purpose or shed light on the meaning of things. But I felt like the whole story was focused on Eddie and her dealing with things, but the last few chapters didn't really say much about her.

OVERALL RATING: It's a great example of style and voice for YA realistic fiction, but plot-wise, disappointing. Maybe others have deciphered more meaning from the text, but I felt it lacked power, given the strong setup and style that it presents otherwise.

I had to return This is Not a Test before I finished it but that was a lot of fun so far (I started it during a power outage - great time for zombie apocalypse reads!), so by no means will my less-than-enthusiastic take on Fall for Anything keep me from trying out her latter works. Have you read any of Summers' books? Was this review helpful? Let me know!


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