~E-ARC from Merit Press and Edelweiss~
(Cover/Synopsis from Goodreads.com)
By: Kate Brauning
Publication: November 3rd, 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Mystery
Synopsis: Ever since Jackie moved to her uncle’s sleepy farming town, she’s been flirting way too much–and with her own cousin, Marcus.
Her friendship with him has turned into something she can’t control, and he’s the reason Jackie lost track of her best friend, Ellie, who left for…no one knows where. Now Ellie has been missing for months, and the police, fearing the worst, are searching for her body. Swamped with guilt and the knowledge that acting on her love for Marcus would tear their families apart, Jackie pushes her cousin away. The plan is to fall out of love, and, just as she hoped he would, Marcus falls for the new girl in town. But something isn’t right about this stranger, and Jackie’s suspicions about the new girl’s secrets only drive the wedge deeper between Jackie and Marcus–and deepens Jackie’s despair.
Then Marcus is forced to pay the price for someone else’s lies as the mystery around Ellie’s disappearance starts to become horribly clear. Jackie has to face terrible choices. Can she leave her first love behind, and can she go on living with the fact that she failed her best friend?
The cousin romance automatically made me think of this Mean Girl’s joke:
Poor Karen Smith.
Anyway, I wasn’t sure what I was going to get with a romance between characters who were cousins-that was why I was interested in How We Fall in the first place; I wanted to see how an author wrote that kind of unique and, in my opinion, disturbing, love. Add in a murder mystery, and I was very excited to pick up this book.
Well, what can I say? It wasn’t what I expected at all. Up until the ending, not much really happened, except heavy romance between Jackie and Marcus and lots of fighting/drama.
What pretty much happened (repetitively) throughout the whole book except for the ending:
-Jackie and Marcus kiss. A lot.
-Jackie feels guilty and weird about it (as she rightly should) but she and Marcus keep kissing anyway if they don’t fight about it first.
-Jackie gets some reminder about Ellie (who I don’t really care about because she is never actually in the story, only mentioned) and feels even more guilty because she didn’t spend that much time with her because of Marcus. Then she goes back to kissing Marcus, who is basically the thing that makes her feel guilty in the first place.
Add in Sylvia, the new girl who has a thing for Marcus, and you’ve got teen drama to the max.
Jackie wasn’t my favorite protagonist. She would find clues about Ellie’s disappearance, and then she would make up some excuse because she didn’t want to believe the evidence she found. I didn’t really enjoy her relationship with Marcus-I found it weird and a bit gross. The relationship is already established in the book, we don’t get to see it develop. I think it would’ve worked better as a best friend’s romance, but that would make How We Fall lose one of it’s main selling points to readers: cousins in love.
Yes, this book is unique. But the elements didn’t quite work. I didn’t want to read a book that has a murder mystery as the backdrop to to a creepy cousin love story, I wanted more action, more mystery, not just a huge, spin-tingling ending that is only a sliver of the story if you looked at it in comparison to the rest of the book.
Boy did that ending deliver, though. Kate Brauning, you had my heart racing and I was just anticipating the moment Jackie finds the killer. Speaking of him, what was his end? Did he go to jail? What crimes was he charged with? I was left with some loose ends there.
~Brief Plot/Romance Spoilers~
Don’t read these paragraphs if you plan to read this book.
I correctly predicted almost all of this book. I knew Sylvia wasn’t innocent, I knew that Travis would most likely be an identity of the killer, and that Jackie and Marcus would get together. The second Marcus and Jackie were introduced to new love interests, I knew that they were ultimately end up together. I was able to predict that Will (Jackie’s rebound boyfriend) would end up asking out Claire, Jackie’s sister. I knew that Marcus and Jackie would move to California. The list goes on.
With the romance, I was wondering constantly if Kate Brauning would would surprise me and every other reader, and have the main characters not end up together. That usually doesn’t happen in the young adult genre unless someone dies. That didn’t happen. I guess almost every young reader always wants a “Happy Ending”.
Something that bothered me throughout this book was Marcus/Sylvia/Jackie dynamics, though they got better at the end.
Firstly, why was Marcus dating Sylvia? He would be texting her and then suddenly he’s with Jackie. He knows Jackie was jealous, and honestly, it seems like a jerky thing to do to any girl, whether she’s your cousin and you have forbidden love or not.
There was no reason for Marcus and Sylvia to really be dating except for the love triangle, which becomes a love square later. Yes, I guess he could be moving on, but that doesn’t mean he has to bring Slyvia over to his and Jackie’s house to wound Jackie.
My other problem is Jackie automatically hating Sylvia. Stop with the girl on girl hate, ya novels! Please! Just because somebody is interested in/dating your crush, or in this case, your ex-boyfriend, doesn’t mean you have to hate everything about her. Work out the conflict you have with the guy, hating on someone else won’t make you feel any better.
Also, I wish that Sylvia could have been more of a hero during the climax of the book, not just Jackie. Has the young adult genre ever had a main character who wasn’t the ultimate hero? Maybe I’m just criticizing YA, but I was really excited for this book and I wished it wouldn’t have had all the YA tropes that always bother me.
Summing it up:
How We Fall had a heavy, slightly disturbing romance, and an epic ending. I wouldn’t be surprised if some readers put this book down in the middle because they were bored of the teenage drama.
My Rating: 2.5 stars.