Book Reviews

Review: “Falling Under,” Gwen Hayes

March 13, 2011

I received this book for free from Penguin Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: “Falling Under,” Gwen HayesFalling Underby Gwen Hayes
Series: Falling Under #1
Published by NAL on March, 2011
Genres: Angels & Demons
Pages: 324
Source: Penguin Australia

Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, Theia knows she’s seen Haden before- not around town, but in her dreams.

As the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her closer one moment and pushes her away the next, the only thing Theia knows for sure is that the incredible pull she feels towards him is stronger than her fear. And when she discovers what Haden truly is, Theia’s not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul.

This read was definitely a 3.5 for me. A three feels too low, but a four feels too generous for the first half of the book. While it did take a while to really reel in my interest, the story really delivers at the end. I will be looking forward to the sequel.

The first half of the book reads like every other YA book out there. I was a little bored, tired of all the same methods such as bad-boy warning good-girl to stay away from him because he’s ‘dangerous’. I found myself struggling to get through the chapters as it was predictable and I didn’t like the narrator, Theia. Haden (our main love interest) was bland and although he promised sexiness, I didn’t really ‘feel’ it.

I didn’t like the ‘dreams’ of Under Theia had. It just wasn’t the kind of fantasy-realm I was into. It was just a matter of personal opinion. However, Gwen Hayes has an amazing style of writing and I really love her prose and way of weaving words. I have read one of her short stories, Butterface, so I had very high hopes on reading her debut YA story.

So, it seems like I’m focusing on the bad things. I did want to give this one a four star rating upon reading the second half of the book. It’s almost good enough to make you forget just how ‘typical’ the first half was. In fact, I warred with myself for a good while upon rating this book.

The adventure gets twisty, things start falling into place and the tension between Haden and Theia becomes palpable. I’ve seen a lot of people praise the kissing scenes in this story – they’re really great – as Gwen mentions in her upcoming interview with me (come back March 15th to see it!) she is a romance author at heart, so she focuses on these scenes a lot more than some other YA authors. I really did enjoy them.

We also get a shift in perspective – changing to Haden’s POV – right near the end of the book. I hate shifting perspectives usually, but after settling into Haden’s head it’s really quite eye-opening. I began to really like him as a character, and the Theia we see near the end of the book is a lot more likable than the first.

I urge you, if you’re like me and struggle during the first half, to keep reading. You’ll find a great story. There is a second book coming and I will definitely be picking it up. I’m pretty much 100% certain that the ‘lacking’ half of the book was there to set-up the story and nothing more. Now that that’s done, the way is clear for a gripping tale of demons and the Underworld. Falling Under also has no love-triangle drama and it was such a refreshing thing to see.

Recommended to: Readers in want of some demon-y goodness. While Personal Demons didn’t do it for me in the slightest, Falling Under just about ticked all the right boxes.

About Gwen Hayes

Gwen Hayes lives in the Pacific Northwest with her real life hero and a pack of wild beasts (two of whom she gave birth to). She is a reader, writer, editor, and lover of pop culture.


  • Reply Cialina March 14, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Oh!!!! And did you change your sidebar? IT LOOKS SO COOL!!! I love that scrolling latest reviews widget. :) Nice.

    • Reply Brittany March 14, 2011 at 11:10 am

      Thank you! I did :) It’s a great widget – it’s called ‘Recent Posts Slider’ if you’re interested ;)

  • Reply Cialina March 14, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Hmmm. Your reviews always have some convincing quality in them but I’m still not sold on this one. Would you classify this as paranormal? Based on that demon-y hint that I got at the end, it looks like it…. I think I may have to pass on this one since I vowed to read only paranormal if it will blow me away. :/ Great review as always.

    • Reply Brittany March 14, 2011 at 11:10 am

      Aw, thank you! I would definitely classify it as a paranormal read. Everything in it is basically supernatural-related…

  • Reply Nina March 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    I’ve heard a lot of things about this too…I’ll just have to remind myself it gets better as I read the first half and get bored…

    • Reply Brittany March 14, 2011 at 11:12 am

      Yes, definitely! The ending was worth it – at least for me

  • Reply Briana @ Bree's Books March 13, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about this one, but it definitely sounds interesting and I’m excited to read it soon.

    Great, honest review! :)

    • Reply Brittany March 14, 2011 at 11:12 am

      I really hope you enjoy it. It has a lot of great qualities. Thank you for reading!

  • Reply Shannon March 13, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Whoo! Thank goodness! I was worried for second when I saw from one of your Goodreads updates you weren’t enjoying this. At least it pays off in the end. I already have this one sitting in my book pile to read.

    • Reply Brittany March 14, 2011 at 11:13 am

      Aw, haha yeah! I was worried myself when reading it! It definitely pays off so I hope you enjoy it :)

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