Tumble & Fall
by Alexandra Coutts
Expected Publishing Date: September 17, 2013
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux
Obtained Via: Received as part of the Books and Sensibility ARC tours
Format Read In: ARC
View from the Traffic Light:
(from back of the book):
A novel about the end of days full of surprising beginnings
The world is living in the shadow of oncoming disaster. An asteroid is set to strike the earth in just one week’s time; catastrophe is unavoidable. The question isn’t how to save the world—the question is, what to do with the time that’s left? Against this stark backdrop, three island teens wrestle with intertwining stories of love, friendship and family—all with the ultimate stakes at hand.
Alexandra Coutts’s TUMBLE & FALL is a powerful story of courage, love, and hope at the end of the world.
Reading Tumble & Fall was like like trying to catch and keep rain in my hands. Most of the book just passed me by in all it’s ordinary-ness, but every once in a while there would be a scene or a sentence in which I caught of glimpse of what this book could have been, but wasn’t. In that drop of water, I could see potential, which is perhaps why this utter hurricane of a book was so disappointing in the end.
For a book about the end of the world, it sure was BORING. Sure, things happened, but I felt no real fear or desire. If it’s the end of the world, I expect some chaos. I expect some people to want to hold tight to their families and revel in the things they enjoy most in life. I expect some people to go completely off-the-walls, knowing whatever they do might not have lasting consequences. Perhaps they will seek revenge, or perhaps they will seek a new flame of a romance, because after all, what do they have to lose? And every so often, every fifty pages or so, I got a small peak of this world, but then it vanished again. There are some weird things that happen in this book, but nothing I couldn’t find in a book that wasn’t about the end of the world.
I will disclaim that I really only read the first two hundred pages like a normal reading, and then skimmed the rest. I WANTED this to be such a good book that I pushed through, but it was highly disappointing. I really just wanted to know the ending, which like the rest of the book, was disappointing. I think the fact that every once in a while a brilliant glimmer of potential came along made it all WORSE, because then I would get hopeful again and the story went back to being plain.
As for the actual storytelling, Tumble & Fall is split into three pretty much unrelated story lines, each of which follows around a different character. This could have worked, except all of their personalities seemed SO similar that I had trouble remembering which character’s life I was reading about. These separate lines are told in third person instead of first, so it’s not even a question of voice, really. It’s just that all of their personalities seemed so . . . blank.
And the actual events that people chose to do in their potential last days were just WEIRD. Now, I understand that the end of the world could make people weird. But I could never buy into what THESE characters did, because I didn’t understand their motives. At no point during Tumble & Fall did I feel I understood the characters even the slightest. One girl runs off with her boyfriend(insta-love boyfriend, I might add), and abandons her family at the END of time.
Then, of course, there’s the weird father/son story. An estranged father kidnaps his son to spend time with him before the end of the world(or so I gather). Now, I realize that the family dynamics are totally off here, which is realistic enough, but I didn’t understand this dramatic gesture. A phone call or a “Hello, remember me? I’m your dad?” was too boring? Not sure. And then the dad buys his teenage son some time with a prostitute, which is around the area I started skimming because I think that speaks for itself.
Basically, excellent premise, sad execution.
Final Impression: SUCH a let down. I read the first 200 pages pages and then skimmed the last part because I was bored but wanted to see how the story ends. The answer to that question? Not very well. I really want this concept to be done again with characters who actually ACT like the stakes are pretty high, since, you know, the world’s suppose to end and all. 1/5 cupcakes.