Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: FALLING INTO PLACE by Amy Zhang

I meant to do a Rewind and Review this week, but life happened (yet again) and I'm so overdue on my ARC reviews. Thanks, Harper!
Author: Amy Zhang
Publication date: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow (HarperCollins)
Source: an e-galley provided by the publisher for an honest review

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road. 

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

Before getting into the actual story, I want to draw attention to that cover art. Isn't that FANTASTIC? The dead-end road going into the curved title and eventually the red car, and perfectly placed hand. The red lettering up top to match the car, "there are no accidents." But most importantly, the physic equations. The death is centered around the physics lesson Liz learned earlier. She applied school to her real life and calculate her suicide (do NOT do this at home, kids). But the little scripts all over have me captivated. I just really want to find the cover artist and shake their hand. 

Now, the story. It's told in a third person narrative, the voice trying to stay relative, but objective at the same time. It's a tricky maneuver in my opinion and can be hard to not disconnect with the reader. However, it works. It worked for me at least. I was thoroughly captivated by the story and the flow of events. Some things may be uncomfortable and not my usual read, but it didn't deter me. If anything, it left me wide-eyed and willing to follow. 

I realized I experienced something different than other bloggers and I hope that I find people who felt the same way that I did. The readers of this book seem to be in two groups: the ones who felt and the ones who felt nothing. And the people who felt nothing really hated feeling nothing, understandably. But for me, I didn't have the feels and I still, for the most part, was fine with not having a great connection with the characters. I'm usually very character-driven in my reading and since this was more focused on the characters, their lives, and choices, it'd be VERY easy to hate it because of the disconnect. Honestly, I'm a bit surprised I didn't. I didn't really feel for the characters. There was no agony inside of me. I think this book impressed me as much as it did not only for its writing, depth, and somewhat of a non-plot (it didn't have much of a plot, but it's story pattern still interested me), but also for how it still strung me along despite the circumstances. I despised a character sometimes, but unlike Tease by Amanda Maciel, I still followed along. It wasn't exactly a enjoyable story (attempted suicide does that), but I can't stress enough that I still liked a heavy-character story with no connection to the characters. 

Verdict: A love-it-or-hate-it kind of book that I actually liked...and yes, desperately want the cover. 


  1. I'm really glad that you were able to enjoy this book overall Summer. I usually love having a connection with some characters in the book, but do enjoy those books where this doesn't happen, but I'm still able to enjoy the book overall. I look forward to giving this one a go! :)

  2. I actually noticed the cover even before I read your book review, and I completely agree that it is absolutely fabulous. If I saw that cover at the library, I would immediately pick up this book.

    That being said, I'm glad that I read your book review before checking this book out, because I do not think I would like the disconnect that you discussed between the reader and the characters. I wish this book would be more emotional, because it seems like it could be a success. Thanks for the review!

  3. I'm so happy to read a positive review of this book! I was drawn in by the gorgeous cover and the synopsis that I saw on Goodreads, and was disappointed to read some mediocre and even negative reviews. Falling Into Place definitely sounds like a book that would have deep character-and-reader connection, but I'm interested to see how it plays out without the emotional tug :)

  4. Your reaction to this book is interesting. I think I'm a bit like you in regard to "feels". Now I'm sure I'll like this one :).

    "it didn't have much of a plot, but its story pattern still interested me."
    Interesting distinction too.

  5. I love the cover too! I was one of those persons who didn't feel a thing about this book.. I disliked Liz a lot, but I thought the writing-style was gorgeous.

  6. I'm SO glad to hear you liked this one! It's always great when you can find a book with so many potentially off-putting aspects (the uncommon writing style, the emotional disconnect, etc.) and enjoy it anyway. I'm taking physics right now, so I'm going to wait a while to read this one to make sure I understand all the references (maybe it can be my reward for getting through the class, haha!), but when I do, I'm sure I'll fall into the "love it" category.

  7. Interesting. I have this but I have not been able to bring myself to read it. Not sure which camp I'd fall in -- the feeling vs. feeling nothing -- but it just sounds so depressing and I have to be in the right frame of mind for that. Also, unlike you, that cover terrifies's bringing back repressed memories of doubling up Physics and AP Calculus senior year and then nearly going off the deep end myself. So, yeah. Not ready for this book yet. I'm glad you enjoyed it without any real connection to the characters, though....that's rather....impressive.