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The Fall by Ryan Quinn

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

In theory, this is definitely my kind of book but unfortunately the reality did not meet my expectations. I read this on my Kindle so perhaps some little nuances were lost in digital translation but never mind.

The Fall follows Ian, Haile and Casey through their fall semester as seniors at a small but respected college somewhere in New England. Each character is struggling internally with something- obviously, or else what would be the point of the novel? Haile is a musical prodigy who is trying to get her groove back; Casey is the captain of the football team trying to decide between Med school and the NFL; and Ian who is dealing with coming out to his close friends and family. Tied up in all of this is a quasi murder mystery.

Overall, despite the set-up for an exciting, turbulent ride, the story fell flat. By the end of the novel I was none the wiser as to what any of the characters had achieved or hoped to achieve- with the exception of maybe Ian. In truth, this novel could have just been told from Ian’s perspective. There was enough there to make Ian’s story full and vibrant- what with him being gay and dealing with coming out, his football coach dad and mum moving to be closer to him, his sister and her newfound faith, Jamie and Nato, the list could go on. Haile and Casey could still be his close friends but secondary characters because that is what they felt like despite having their own voices.

Haile did not seem like a real girl to me. Even her friend Eve was more three dimensional and she only featured briefly in the beginning. It was all about her hair or her figure or being an object of desire. There was a possibility to make her character really interesting, after all who doesn’t want to get into the head of a musical prodigy? Yet, there was very little about Haile’s musical life. Perhaps the author Ryan Quinn is not a musician and felt a little hesitant about approaching that territory without conducting a great deal of research, which is fair enough, but this is even more of a reason to have made Haile a secondary character. In fact, she would have sparkled more in the background as part of the love triangle (that turned out not to be a love triangle) and as a close confidante to Ian. I liked Casey’s character but that was about it. Again, his story could have been fleshed out more as there was something to work with- the pressure of leadership, losing a parent, career choices- however, like Haile, he felt more like a cipher.

As for the murder mystery aspect, that should have been cut out or been the whole story. It did not seem to serve much of a purpose if Ryan Quinn wanted a character driven novel.

Overall, I am always on the lookout for a good college based story but I thought The Fall was just ok. Perhaps it needed to be longer like two of my favourite college novels The Art of Fielding and The marriage Plot. In fact, I can’t even think of a song to go with it and that’s rare.
★ ★ ★

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