Free to Fall
by Lauren Miller
Expected Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Length: 469 pages
Obtained Via: Won an Advanced Reader’s Copy
View at the Traffic light:
What if there was an app that told you what song to listen to, what coffee to order, who to date, even what to do with your life—an app that could ensure your complete and utter happiness? What if you never had to fail or make a wrong choice?
What if you never had to fall?
Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision making for the best personal results. Just like everyone else, sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn knows the key to a happy, healthy life is following what Lux recommends. When she’s accepted to the elite boarding school Theden Academy, her future happiness seems all the more assured. But once on campus, something feels wrong beneath the polished surface of her prestigious dream school. Then she meets North, a handsome townie who doesn’t use Lux, and begins to fall for him and his outsider way of life. Soon, Rory is going against Lux’s recommendations, listening instead to the inner voice that everyone has been taught to ignore — a choice that leads her to uncover a truth neither she nor the world ever saw coming.
Free to Fall combined SO. MANY. of my favorite things into one book, I’m still reeling as to how that was even possible(answer: it’s possible because it’s a long book. And yet, I wanted it to be longer). Secret societies. Technology, both good and bad. Abandoned places. Poetry. A twisty plot. And the twisting plot always gets bonus points because I’ve talked about before how I normally spot twists. In fact, I think the ability to really twist and turn a plot is Miller’s strong point because I’ve read two books by her now and I did NOT see the twist coming in either one of them.
It’s a bit difficult to get into the actual story without giving anything away or leaving something out because the plot of Free to Fall takes so many turns and there’s so many different paths that I really feel I can’t do justice to them all. So I will say that the plot summary actually does pretty well, considering, and that going into Free to Fall fairly blind may be your best bet. There are multiple mysteries in Free to Fall and they all tie in together, so it’s difficult to concentrate on any of them. The plot really is the strong point of Free to Fall. The writing, characters, and everything else is good, but nothing really stands out except for the plot. I tend to be a character-driven reader rather than a plot-driven one, but it really WORKED for Free to Fall. There’s just so many questions and so much intrigue that I didn’t have time to think about anything else other than I wanted to know how everything fit together.
The technology in Free to Fall was so fascinating. I’m not a fan of “science and technology is THE EVIL” type stories, and for awhile I was worried that Free to Fall would head towards that path, but I was pleasantly surprised. Some of the technology in Free to Fall is admittedly bad, but it’s made clear it’s not an “all-or-nothing” approach. I mean, the Lux app really does seem possible–an algorithm to determine your perfect life–and it’s easy to see how people would need something to show them that maybe leaving all their decision-making to an app is not the wisest choice. I also loved how Free to Fall was set in the near-future: the 2030’s. Just far enough for everything to be a bit different, but not so far in the future that everything we know about the world has changed. I loved the intersection of what we would consider normal and the science fiction components.
I was really unsure about Rory as the main character at first, but she definitely grew on me. I was a bit iffy on her being the smartest person at her school, for one. I was afraid she would become super-smart, super-perfect, a character I don’t particularly care to read about. Rory definitely borders on this at time in Free to Fall, but overall, she stays pretty firmly on the realistic side of the character camp, even with the plot gets incredulous(in a good way). Rory KNOWS that every that’s happening to her isn’t normal, and she’s not afraid to sometimes poke fun at the situation or to realize she may be in over her head.
North was a breath of fresh air as far as love interests in YA go. While he may not be a character I was personally completely enamored with, he worked well with Rory. But I just loved that a character like North existed. He wasn’t your boy-next-door or your YA bad boy or even your lovable adventurer. He has tones of all three, and he definitely had a bit of the “forbidden” edge for Rory just because he was a town boy and not a Theden student, but it just absolutely worked for him.
There’s a lot running underneath the surface of Free to Fall as well: free will, destiny, that sort of thing. It’s easy to see with everyone using the Lux, but it goes much deeper than that. Rory finds out in time so many secrets about her life that deal with this theme. It’s really well handled and not at all pushy but a great examination of those topics.
Basically, Free to Fall has a lot going on(probably somethings I’ve forgotten to mention): secret societies, poetry, symbols, technology, secrets, free will, romance, etc. All my favorite things, pretty much, and I think I was destined(ha-ha) to love Free to Fall.
After a string of disappointing books, Free to Fall did not disappoint. I absolutely loved it with all it’s strange and many aspects. The view of technology and free will was perfect and despite it’s length, I still thought it was too short. 5/5 cupcakes.