Sunday, September 21, 2014

Review: "How to Fall" by Jane Casey

Sixteen-year-old Jess Tennant has never met any of her relatives, until her mom suddenly drags her out of London to spend the summer in the tiny English town where her family’s from. Her mom’s decision is surprising, but even more surprising is the town’s reaction to Jess. Everywhere she goes, people look at her like they’ve seen a ghost. In a way, they have—she looks just like her cousin Freya, who died shortly before Jess came to town. Jess immediately feels a strange connection to Freya, whom she never got to meet alive. But the more Jess learns about the secrets Freya was keeping while she was alive, the more suspicious Freya’s death starts to look. One thing is for sure: this will be anything but the safe, boring summer in the country Jess was expecting. Beloved author Jane Casey breaks new ground with How to Fall, a thrilling and insightfully written mystery.
My thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for allowing me to read and review an ARC of this book.

Some of my first ever "chapter books" as a kid were Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mysteries, and I LOVED them!!!  I was wondering what happened to that genre with this next generation of young readers.  It seems like today's hot reads are all of the paranormal or dystopian variety, and while I enjoy books in those genres as much as the next reader, I still kind of miss the suspense and mystery of the classic whodunit.

This could be where Jess Tennant comes in.  It might be premature to say that Jess Tennant is the next Nancy Drew, but I will say that I think Jane Casey is off to a good start with this new series.

When Jess moves for the summer to the small seaside town where her mother grew up, she is greeted by stares and whispers.  She quickly meets some of the town's teenagers, most of whom are not outwardly friendly, and some of whom are downright mean.  As Jess delves more into the towns peoples' attitudes toward her, she finds that her cousin Freya, who died the summer before and looked exactly like Jess, had some complicated ties to a lot of them.  There's Freya's self-proclaimed best friend, the boy next door, Freya's siblings, the town mean girl and her posse, and the beautiful golden boy.  Jess gets the feeling that everyone knows a bit more about the circumstances of Freya's mysterious death than they are letting on, and she's determined to solve the mystery.

Did Freya fall, jump, or get pushed off the cliff into the ocean?  This book started out a bit slow, and for the first third or so, I didn't really care.  That all changed for me after an encounter between Jess and some of the aforementioned secondary characters on the cliff.  I can't divulge what happened, but things did seem to pick up from that moment on.  

Jess is an interesting character.  She's very bullheaded, and doesn't balk at asking blunt questions regarding Freya's death to just about anyone she comes across.  At times I felt a bit annoyed at her, especially when she put herself in some sticky situations that anyone with half a brain would avoid.  Her half-baked plan at the end of the book was also a bit ... I don't know, ridiculous? Unbelievable? Extreme?  Not sure how to describe it exactly.  Either way, I'm intrigued enough by Jess and the other characters in this small town to want to read more of her (mis)adventures in the future.

My rating: 3.5 stars

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