Review: Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

Goodreads | Amazon | TBD

Hardcover, 304 pages

Published September 9th 2014 by Greenwillow Books

Source: Purchased

My Rating: 3 Stars

From Goodreads:

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road. Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

Yesterday was the longest I’ve ever taken to write a review, and this is the shortest! Talk about improvement 😉 Okay, so the book you came here to read about. Right, moving onto that!

I was very prepared for this book. I had my box of tissues at the ready, and wasn’t even reading a Kindle book simultaneously. I’d planned on devoting all the attention and all the feels to it.

I didn’t exactly get my mountain of feels, but I did get some damn good writing. First, a confession: I love a short chapter. Love. This book changes chapters quickly, changes setting and time period quickly, and I kind of loved it. It made for a very devourable book, even with some of the problems I had.

There was a definite urgency to find out what had happened to Liz of course. Not just the outcome of the accident, but what could have led up to it. What made Liz make such a devastating choice, and how do her friends and family feel? Great questions, of course. But I suppose the problem was twofold:

1. I did not like Liz. Honestly, I don’t get why anyone else did either. I suppose people were scared of Liz, fascinated by Liz, in awe of Liz, and I understood that perspective. But aside from her mother… why? She was kind of awful to everyone around her, and I never completely understood why. Yeah, she had a couple rough breaks but there was really no excuse for her to behave in the ways she did. No one escaped her wrath, and she seemed to it for the sole reason that she could.

2. Why was everyone else such a mess? Okay fine, Liz is an evil warlord. She’s clearly got issues and is a big old meanie. But… what the hell is up with the rest of the town? Her best friends, Julia and Kennie were messes. Her mom was a mess. All the boyfriends seemed to be the douchiest douches in all the land. A random (at the beginning) guy named Liam was nice enough, though he was down with everyone else treating him like garbage, so he was a mess too. And I know this is going to be me completely aging myself, but do teens really act like this?

The debauchery was pretty epic, and I can’t help but wonder if things really could have changed that much since I was in school? Sure, there was a certain level of rebellion, but goodness! I was seriously terrified for our future as a society. And now I feel like someone’s grandma. 

And because I didn’t like Liz, I didn’t quite care as much what happened to her. Tragic? Sure. But she never really felt apologetic to me, she felt more… resigned. Resigned to never changing, and just ending it all instead. Well, talk about a cowardly way out.

I did, however, connect with her mother’s emotions. I couldn’t even imagine being afraid to lose my child two floors away from where I’d had her. That was definitely hard to read. Of course, then I wanted to smack the mother, and kind of blame her. She certainly wasn’t winning any parenting awards herself.

As the story progressed, I did grow to care about the lives of Kennie and Julia. They seemed much more real (and truthfully, less awful) than Liz, and I held out hope that they’d turn things around.

Bottom Line: In some senses, I loved the book. It was original, well-written, and definitely had me staying up too late to read. But in the end, I simply couldn’t connect with the main character, and the tissue box stayed unopened.

Posted September 19, 2014 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Review / 15 Comments


15 responses to “Review: Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

    • I mean, I know teenagers who most certainly do NOT act like that, so it can’t just be that I am “old”. I had really high hopes for it too. It isn’t a *bad* book though. I do plan on definitely reading Amy Zhang’s next book, she’s quite a wonderful writer!

  1. I really dislike when everyone in books is a mess and it’s like OH LET’S BE MESSES TOGETHER. No. All of you go and see a therapist and get your shit together and find out if someone has been poising your town’s water supply with Issues or something.

  2. I definitely have mixed thoughts about reading this book after your review. I can’t stand douche bag characters and from the sound of them I wouldn’t like these characters one bit.

    Sorry you didn’t like this one quite as much as you wanted to!

    (Also I too love short chapters 😉 )

    • They were all total douchecanoes. Okay, *most* of them were douchecanoes, some had like, mental problems and needed hard core therapy. But they all treat each other like garbage!

  3. I find that the reviews that take me the longest to write are always the shortest too. And it’s not because I can’t think of anything to say or have nothing to say, I just can’t formulate my words. Yay for short chapters! Chapters that last 20+ pages always take me forever to read and I find myself stopping or dragging it out because I know I have a million more to go. But chapters that are short? I can’t set the book down! I tell myself I’ll stop at the next chapter and then keep making excuses to read just one more. After reading your review, I’m not sure this book is for me. I like when one or two characters are not perfect but the whole town is a wreck? No thanks. And the fact you didn’t care what happened to the main character would be a problem for me. Great review!

    • Yep, I am the same way! I love a short chapter. And, on the flip side, if chapters are too long, I get antsy and disinterested. And yeah, that is where the book falls short for me: Everyone is kind of awful. Some of them do start to show signs that they might be non-evil, but I don’t know, it’s rough!

  4. This is the book I’m kinda scared to read. I heard many mixed things about, and while some like it, some don’t. I gather it’s kind of messy, but I really like that it has short chapters. I love short chapters, and I figured, I read a book with short chapters a lot faster, because the next chapter is always short and you read that one too, and then the next one, and before you know it, you read the whole book. Great review Shannon!

    • YES! That is exactly what I was doing- the whole “oh, well, the next chapter is only three pages!” thing 😉 I really expected to like this book. In truth, I didn’t *hate* it, but I just wish the characters had more growth, more humanity. Since the whole point of the book was like, wondering if this girl was going to live and WHY she wanted to die, I kind of needed to like her a little bit, but I didn’t.

  5. Fantastic review – I definitely agree with you little sum-up. I loved the writing and the originality, but the lack of connection with any of the characters stopped me from LOVING this book. It was a wonderful experience, and I’m glad you seem to have enjoyed it overall. 🙂

  6. This is an amazing review Shannon! I am also interested in reading this, though I didn’t hear beforehand that it was going to be sad. But anyways, it sucks that the main character didn’t connect to you at all. From what you’ve said though, I don’t think I could connect to her either. But I’m glad you still liked it, even though the tissues never came out!

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