Release Date: January 24th 2012
Buy It: Book Depository
When a deadly virus begins to sweep through sixteen-year-old Kaelyn’s community, the government quarantines her island—no one can leave, and no one can come back. Those still healthy must fight for dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest. Because how will she go on if there isn’t?Admittedly a lot of this novel reminded me of Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It, and the fact that it is basically told in journal entries (technically she's writing somebody, but she's not sending the letters, so it might as well be a journal) probably doesn't help that cause. Although it's got a similar post-apocalyptic feeling to it, The Way We Fall has the distinction of being set entirely on one island, contained but separate, while Kaelyn doesn't really know what's going on in the rest of the world, though there are hints.
While there was a lot I loved about this island, like the fact that it was Canadian, and how much scarier it was that they were cut off from the world both literally and figuratively, I admit something left me perplexed. Apparently it was in Nova Scotia, which is awesome, but there are references to Halifax and Ottawa, but nowhere in between. It seems to imply that the island is located somewhere in the middle, while ignoring other cities like Montreal, that would certainly have been closer than Ottawa, if it was in fact Nova Scotia Crewe was writing about. So that's my Canadian geography confusion, left even more perplexed by the fact that the author is actually Canadian. I did read an advance copy, I wonder if anyone who picked up a finished edition noticed the same thing? Did I just misread the book / am I crazy?
Location ramble aside, something I really loved was that, despite being a book about a very deadly virus, many of the important deaths in The Way We Fall are not from infection. Instead, they are caused by consequences stemming from what the virus has done to people and society. It was really near to see how far the impact could spread, so that even those who were healthy weren't necessary safe.
I also enjoyed Kaelyn's unexpected love interest, I could really see how these two people came together in a tragic time, which felt believable. I liked the fact that Kaelyn was biracial– having lived in Nova Scotia for several years, I could appreciate that she would have been a minority, and in certain situations the fact that it made her stand out added an interesting dimension.
The scientific aspect of The Way We Fall was where I had a bigger issue, though I admit to being a grad student in biology which might make me both more informed, and more curious, about it than the average reader. One of my favourite recent films is Contagion, and likely because the novel is told from the perspective of a teenage girl, The Way We Fall lacked some of the detail I was hoping for. Still, I have definitely read other post-apocalyptic type YA books where a teenage narrator didn't prevent the author from giving a more thorough explanation of what was going on, for example the medical mystery in Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien.
The ending of The Way We Fall fell into the "meh" category for series, I didn't feel like I had quite enough answered, but I guess more is being saved for book #2, The Lives We Lost. I'm not entirely sure if this is a trilogy I'll be continuing but there was enough I enjoyed about The Way We Fall that, should the next novel catch my interest, I'll certainly give it a try.