Review: Tumble & Fall by Alexandria Coutts

Tumble & FallTumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Pre-read: Having read reviews for this book, I can’t help but think the idea of this novel sort of reminds me of this shortlived series on ABC Family:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Moons_Over_Milford

I’m definitely reading this soon, but I’ll admit I’m less excited about it as I was when it was first proposed.

Post-read:

Dude, are you kidding me?

I probably could just leave a statement like that, but I’ll bite further. I read a lot of speculative fiction. Sometimes speculative fiction is a difficult genre to sell depending on the tones and what if scenarios. This book reminded me of when I picked up “Kiss, Crush, Collide” by Christina Meredith a while back in that I picked up this beautifully artistic cover, great formatting and lettering, excellent premise, but when I opened the book and read inside, I was absolutely floored by how uninspired, dull, plodding and formulaic it was. I didn’t really care about the characters, the science was a complete fail, and it had not a lick of realism or development to it. In case anyone wanted to know: this book really did feel like like “Three Moon Over Milford” as I read it. Only to give a little more credit to the ABC Family series, at least that held my attention for longer (2, maybe 3 episodes of its broadcast). After a point in this book, I just didn’t care. I read to the end but it wasn’t good, at all.I’ll write an extended review for this one when I can collect my thoughts.

Full review:

One thing I’ll mention before I begin writing this review: I technically read this book twice: once in galley form, where I had to force myself through the narrative and felt like it was difficult to follow or feel invested in, and another in the audiobook form. Before you start asking me “Rose, why on everloving earth would you check out an audiobook from the library for a book you didn’t like?”  Here’s my defense: believe it or not – an audiobook reading can make a narrative experience better depending on the strength of the narrator.  Matt Bomer’s reading of James Patterson’s “Toys” made the reading experience of that book better than if I’d picked up that book on my own.

I wanted to try it and well…I had an extra slot to check out digital items from my library. I was bored, it was there, and I liked the narrative preview enough to give it a go.  I regret nothing!

If you can get the audio form, and you’re really curious to peruse it – try it as an alternative – if even to preview before you pick it up, Angela Brazil gives far more emotion and life to the characters than the original text gave on its own, enough to bump up my rating by a full star after meditating over it. I’m actually glad I had the patience to sit through this twice just to hear her narration of it, but ultimately speaking, my original review for the book still stands: with the text taken for its own story, this book was not good.  It was actually rather disappointing considering such an interesting premise and cover to illustrate it.

I’ll admit that I expected far greater stakes in a story which showcases the end of the world in an elaborate “what if” scenario (an asteroid poised to hit the earth).  One could say that a narrative that provides a more quiet, reflective perspective on the coming to terms of three teens in the event of a natural disaster bringing certain doom would make for a fine story.  Okay, cool.

But that’s not what happens here.

Sienna, Camden, and Zan never really grow at any point in this story – it’s just a showcase of a series of situations where they carry out their own existences and petty problems that plod along in the last seven days before the asteroid hits.  It’s like everyone in the book pretty much says  “Asteroid?  We’re doomed.  Might as well spend our last days twiddling our thumbs since there’s nothing we can possibly do.  We could send a rocket to break it up, but oh wait – that didn’t do any good.  We’re still going to die, so tough nuts.”

Sienna’s in turmoil over her father getting remarried just days before the end of the world comes about, and she’s just gotten out of therapy.  She runs off with a guy she knew from childhood and knows a girl who plays in a band.  Somehow the guy she’s into is building a boat, and…um…stuff happens including some forms of forgiveness.  I really did not care after a point.

Camden gets kidnapped by his long lost father – like drugged and dragged to his father’s home.  Father spends some bonding time with Cam, starting off mild with an awkward game of playing catch in the park, and the reveal about why he left their family.   Cam’s father then somehow gives him a prostitute so that he can lose his virginity, but oh wait – the guy’s a jerk also for emotionally blackmailing a woman in his care, which Cam and said woman escape and he ends up losing his virginity to her, and…

Yeah, I didn’t care much about his storyline either. =/  There was a bright moment when Cam comes home and has a reconciling with his mother and sister, but honestly, how plausible is this in a scenario for the end of the world?  Asteroid, people.  Do you not understand there is an asteroid?  Priorities, man.  Priorities.

Sense this does not make.

I think Zan’s story was probably the more compelling of the three narratives, but even that had its share of melodrama that really didn’t fit in with the end of the world scenario either.  Zan’s grieving over her dead boyfriend Leo, but finds a receipt that suggests that he might’ve been cheating on her with someone called “Vanessa.” So she takes off on a road trip to find out who Vanessa is with Leo’s former best friend, and the love machine starts playing full throttle and…oh wait, Vanessa is not the person that Zan thinks she is and…sadness.  All the feels.

Except those feels never came for me because I couldn’t really get into it. =/

The ending didn’t have the punch I was hoping for either, as Sienna, Cam, and Zan’s stories only had loose connections – they didn’t feel all that meaningful though.

I could talk about the parents in this story, but really all of them felt like they were cut from the same melodramatic cookie cutter – no variation really.

In the end, I think this book tried to be something of a quiet slice of life speculative work, but it failed because the characters were petty and bland, and the fact that the story itself really didn’t have strong stakes to begin with.  Plus, science, scenario, and variation fails all around.

I do give credit to Angela Brazil for her narration in this piece though.  She did the best for what the material would offer, and her vocal variations and emotional touches really made it stand out more.  I just wish that it could’ve been a more compelling narrative on overarching notations.

Overall score: 1.5/5 stars

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher MacMillan.

View all my reviews

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