The Way We Fall is a story about a small island held hostage by a deadly virus. It’s told in a series of letters written by Kaelyn to her estranged best friend Leo. Kaelyn is a teenager who had front view accounts to how fast the virus ravaged a small community that already had its share of diminishing population driven by economic woes. Little by little, her small family had become victim to the disease while her father, the town’s microbiologist, worked day and night to stop the contagion. First it was her Uncle Emmett, shot dead while protesting the government’s quarantine orders. Then it was her mother who fell victim to the disease. Then it was Drew, her brother, who disappeared soon after Kaelyn had gotten sick. The town was also being run by a group of violent thugs, who thought the best way to get rid of the disease was to shoot anyone with the symptoms. They stole food and destroyed buildings. But amidst the seemingly hopeless situations, a new friendship blossomed and Kaelyn found herself aligning with an unlikely ally.
I was under the impression that this was going to be another dystopian read or at least, post-apocalyptic. It was actually not even close. The contagion was isolated in a small island, so all the bleakness characteristic of those two somewhat similar genres didn’t really apply. Can you even consider it post-apocalyptic when the deaths were concentrated on a small island? Pandemic, yes. Dystopian? No, post-apocalyptic? Maybe. But then again, I’m hardly an expert. I have watched movies of similar story lines; a virus spreading like wildfire, killing people in a matter of days, sometimes hours. I had a lot of expectations. I expected to be disturbed by the failing human conditions associated with the chaos. But aside from the gun-toting thugs burning houses and shooting one victim right in front of our characters, I hardly flinched. The onslaught of the virus, the burgeoning spread of the disease, the need to find a cure – all lacked the much needed urgency. I think it has something to do with the way this story was told. Kaelyn’s letters/journalized accounts of what was happening on the island was really focused more on her emotional state at the time of writing. It was also her way of trying to repair a damaged friendship with Leo so most of her entries were fond recollections, saturated with contrition. She didn’t really have a first hand account of how her father had tried to find a cure, so it was difficult to see how helpless her father was. In the end, the cure was really simple, predictable even.
I don’t really know how this story could’ve been done better. On the one hand, the technique used to tell the story was perfect for what Kaelyn was trying to accomplish. And on the other, the author failed to properly convey all the elemental foundation to this series. I was bogged down with the slowness of the pace and overall lack of descriptive explanations about a lot of things. Yes, I understand that this is a series (like a lot of the YA books nowadays!). But there’s a lot to be said about a proper set-up, beginnings, if I may.
I just wasn’t that enthusiastic about it all. I found myself straying most of the time, forcing myself to finish even though all I wanted to do was to pick up another book. I was interested enough to see it through, however. Due to its format, this book is heavy on narration. The sparse dialogues didn’t alleviate the tedious litany of Kaelyn’s voice. Incidentally, I was bed ridden with the flu while I was reading this book so to actually have a first-hand insight to the symptoms probably helped from flouncing mid-way through.
I’m hoping that the mysterious Leo would make an appearance on the next book. Because then perhaps, the monotonous journal entries/letters would cease and I could enjoy this series more.