Friday, March 28, 2014

Blog Tour Book Review: Falling, by J. Bennett

Welcome to this stop 
in the tour for Falling 
(Girl with Broken Wings, #1),
sponsored by
Innovative Online Book Tours!!

About the Book

(Girl with Broken Wings, #1)
J. Bennett
Trade Paperback, 236 pages
Endeavor Writing
July 20, 2013
Dystopian Fiction, New Adult Fiction, Paranormal Fiction, Science Fiction, Thrillers

Book SynopsisMaya knew something was wrong.  The stranger's glowing hands were a big tipoff.  When the stranger murders Maya's boyfriend with a single touch, drags the college sophomore to an abandoned storage unit, and injects her with a DNA-altering serum, Maya prays for a savior.  Instead, she gets a double helping of knight-in-not-so-shining-armor when two young men claiming to be her half-brothers pull off a belated rescue.  Now Maya is swiftly transforming into an "angel", one of the scientifically-enhanced, energy-sucking creatures her brothers have spent their whole lives trying to destroy.  Maya's senses sharpen, her body becomes strong and agile, and she develops the ability to visually see the emotions of those around her as colorful auras....beautiful auras....tempting auras.  Struggling to control the murderous appetite that fuels her new abilities, this reluctant protagonist must find a way to accept her new condition and learn to trust her angel-hunting brothers as she joins them in their fight against the powerful and destructive creatures.  On the up side, at least Maya's eldest brother has stopped trying to kill her.

My Review

There are so many positive adjectives I can apply to this novel, I scarcely know where to begin.  It's totally exciting.  Dramatic.  Vividly intense.  Poignant.  There are humorous passages, as well.  Need I add that it's an utterly riveting, page-turning read?

The cover perfectly illustrates the drama and darkness of this fascinating novel.  I love the picture of the girl desperately clutching her temples, as she gazes at her winged reflection on the ground, with the two mysterious figures in the background.  As for the title, the heavily stylized letter "F", in the word, "Falling" is amazingly done, and very effective.  

With this book, Bennett takes on a very serious, vitally important theme -- the dangers inherent in the attempt to create 'super humans'.  I see her novel as an implied criticism of the modern movement known as transhumanism.  According to Wikipedia, this is "an international cultural and intellectual movement with an eventual goal of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities."  Critics of this movement cite such possible negative outcomes as dehumanization, the threat of coercive eugenics procedures, threats to morality and democracy, and other grave existential risks.  

In this novel, the super humans are also monsters.  For some reason, these frightening creatures have given themselves the name of "angels".  They are more accurately described as energy vampires.  They must survive on the energy they suck from other beings, especially humans, killing them in the process.  Although they can also absorb energy directly from the sun, it's never quite enough, and 'the hunger' is terrifyingly intense.... They are also supremely arrogant,  contemptuous of those whom they consider beneath them: normal, average humans.  All this is in stark contrast to the nature of real angels, so it strikes me as very ironic, as well as presumptuous, that these beings would dare to give themselves such a name.  

In spite of the book's dark theme, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole plot, from beginning to end.  That was largely due to Bennett's deft characterizations and brilliant prose.  I was even willing to overlook the unfortunate appearance of "the F bomb" every few pages.  Believe me, it's not every day I find myself doing such a thing!

The following paragraph is a sample of Bennett's powerful, vivid prose:

"Mostly, the hunger is a song with a secret melody only I can hear.  The music clings to each breath of wind and the calm in between.  It hums along the spongy corridors of my brain, each note jumping from one stalled synapse to the next.  At night, when the sun cannot feed me its thin soup, the song grows loud as thunder captured in my bones.  Destruction concealed beneath the beauty."  (From the Prologue, pg. 3) 

Maya, the main protagonist, vividly comes to life, with her passionate, loving nature, as well as her insecurities.  In spite of these, she puts up a valiant fight to overcome the horrible hunger that now consumes her.  Her attempts to fit in and bond with her newly-discovered brothers are very touching and poignant, revealing the fact that she's still human to some extent, in spite of her transformation.

Gabe and Tarren, Maya's brothers and the novel's two other protagonists, are perfectly drawn, as well.  Gabe is the easy-going, fun-loving one, and he immediately accepts his sister in spite of her new nature.  I loved his silly Chuck Norris jokes, his witty one-liners, and the way he felt protective of Maya, in spite of her insistence that she had no need of protection.  If I could have had a brother, I would have picked someone like Gabe.

Tarren is the suspicious, tough-skinned brother.  He's always on his guard, expecting Maya to turn on either him, Gabe, or both, at any moment.  He and Gabe are always at odds wherever their sister is concerned.  Their arguments create much of the tension in the plot, since the reader never knows whether Tarren will end up eliminating Maya, in spite of Gabe's insistence that she will not end up killing them.  It was so heartrending to see Maya constantly striving to connect with Tarren emotionally, without much success.

I was somewhat uncomfortable with the brothers' self-appointed mission to hunt down and kill as many angels as possible.  But then, these angels were killing innocent human beings, and they had to be stopped somehow.  This is where the cruel realities of life can render a potentially evil situation as a morally ambiguous one.  If the brothers were to stop their activities, more innocent people would die....

The ending is open-ended, because there are, of course, more installments to follow.  I am very happy about this, since I want to read as many of these books as Ms. Bennett is willing to write!  I love her gritty characters and the way they manage to pull together, in spite of their interpersonal difficulties.  I also love the oppressively grim plot that, paradoxically, contains a ray of hope.  This is dystopian fiction at its best!

To sum up, I have discovered a bold new talent to follow!  I'm also hoping the books will make it to the silver screen in the foreseeable future; the action-filled plots, as well as the interpersonal dynamics among the three main characters, would translate well to that medium.  Fans of dystopian fiction, thrillers, and science fiction, take note!


Reviewer's Note

I would like to thank Ms. Bennett
for providing me with  a
print copy of her book.
This has in no way affected my opinion
 of this novel; I must honestly give
praise when it's really due.
In this case, it's well deserved!!

About the Author

J. Bennett is a professional copywriter and copy editor, as well as a novelist.  She lives and writes in Southern California.

Works by J. Bennett

Girl with Broken Wings Series
The Vampire's Housekeeper Chronicles
(short story, #1)
(short story, #2)
(short story, #3)

Online Links

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