If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I don’t typically review young adult fiction. Generally speaking, it’s not my favorite genre. My general feeling is that the books I read are either complete misses or BIG HITS!
Falling by Debra Leigh certainly falls into the latter category. For starters, I’d like to take a moment to congratulate Leigh on her stellar debut in the genre! I have reviewed her work in the past on this blog. Nauti by Nature, if you’re curious!
Falling is the first installment of The Raddison Chronicles. We follow seventeen-year-old Audyn Becker through a coming-of-age story. Not only is the world not what she imagined, but she happens to be a member of the Elite — warriors who are tasked with protecting the world from all manner of beasties. As if that isn’t complicated and confusing enough, her abilities are rare. So rare, in fact, that she’s more or less one of a kind. Worse, the fate of the world basically will rest on her shoulders someday. Our story follows Audyn — our ordinary girl gone superhero — through the plights of her first year. A year rife with social, and academic pitfalls. Oh, and the occasional bomb in her apartment.
I have read Debra Leigh’s work in the past (you can read my review for Nauti by Nature here) and was immediately a fan. I like her style of writing and her character development. When I was given the opportunity to ARC for this book (even though the genre isn’t necessarily my thing), I leaped for it. And I’m so glad that I did.
If I were grading on the rubric of personal enjoyment alone, this book would be a hard five-star. I think that Leigh did an amazing job creating unique lore, with playful, lovable characters, and perfect for the genre conflict/scenes.
My criticisms fall largely in the first half of the book, dropping it to a 4.75 star (yes, I’m rounding up, I’m not a monster). It was, for lack of a more elegant term, a bit clunky. There was, unfortunately, a bit of a data dump in the first few chapters that made my eyes go cross and my head feel a bit overstuffed with lore. If the information had been broken up and spread out a bit more over time, I feel like it would have been a great deal easier to retain/more enjoyable to read. As it stood, it felt like we (the readership) were being fed great heaping clumps of important lore so we could move onto the meat and potatoes of the story with all of its context. Unfortunately, that made it harder to hold onto (like never cracking open the coursebook and cramming for the final a half-hour before) and made the pacing of a rather fast-moving book slow considerably.
After I got past those chapters, though, it was smooth sailing! I enjoyed the world Leigh crafted and the pacing of the scenes! It is a shorter read, which makes it the perfect bite-sized young adult fantasy to tear through in an evening! I am desperate to read more to see where the story takes us next.
Overall, I was incredibly impressed with this book. The first of a series is always so hard to write, so to see one (again, as it bears repeating, in a genre I don’t typically enjoy) that checked many of my boxes straight out of the gate, I was quite pleased. I am so looking forward to the next installment! I want to know what happens to Aud and co. next!
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