by Christa Desir
Original Publication Date: October 15, 2013
Length: 240 pages
Obtained Via: Bought
View at the Traffic light:
Ben could date anyone he wants, but he only has eyes for the new girl — sarcastic free-spirit, Ani. Luckily for Ben, Ani wants him too. She’s everything Ben could ever imagine. Everything he could ever want.
But that all changes after the party. The one Ben misses. The one Ani goes to alone.
Now Ani isn’t the girl she used to be, and Ben can’t sort out the truth from the lies. What really happened, and who is to blame?
Ben wants to help her, but she refuses to be helped. The more she pushes Ben away, the more he wonders if there’s anything he can do to save the girl he loves.
Note: This novel, and therefore this review, deals heavily with themes of rape and assault.
In a sentence, Fault Line is about a young girl’s rape and aftermath as told through the eyes of her boyfriend. Shortly after Ben and Ani become a couple, Ani goes to a party without Ben and is sexually assaulted. The novel explores Ben and Ani’s relationship leading up to that moment and how it changes after the events of the party.
My thoughts on this book are quite complex. On one hand, Desir does a lot of new things with this type of story I haven’t seen in YA before. Ani is not the “good girl,” the “perfect rape victim”. She’s not sweet or shy or demure. She speaks her mind and drinks a lot. . . and the point is that what happened to her is no less atrocious because of those facts. It doesn’t mean she “deserved it” or “asked for it” or any other terrible things rape culture would say. After her rape she doesn’t become a shy, skittish animal. She starts having a lot of sex with guys and doesn’t fit into the “good rape victim”–because there’s no such thing, no one way of reacting to such a trauma. That character exploration I could totally get behind, but everything else about Fault Line mostly fell flat.
My main issue was the writing. I don’t understand why this story was told this way. There are a lot of time jumps that make no sense, and I don’t just mean a back-and-forth between “then” and “now.” I mean that there will be a scene and then without even a scene break the next sentence is something like “A month later I’m making out in my car with Ani”(not an actual quote). Seriously? I totally understand that you can’t show everything on the page and fast forwarding through things that aren’t relevant to the story is necessary but I feel like relevant things were left out. Ani and Ben’s relationship develops, but most of that development happens off the page so when they get to the point they’re declaring love and making plans I couldn’t understand why.
Besides the time jumps, the dialogue in particular was just. . . weird. People don’t talk like this. I mean occasionally some teenage guys would say some things and I’d nod and think “Okay, that’s kind of gross but hey, teenage guys” but for the most part I was just baffled. All the main characters got the strangest lines of dialogue. At first everyone went around declaring all these things about themselves that shouldn’t have been said because the people they were saying them too would have already known–those lines were for the reader’s benefit, but it felt out of place. And then after the rape happens the two side friends of Ben and Ami’s start talking directly out of a sexual assault awareness pamphlet. Don’t get me wrong, I support that sort of information being included in a book, but it still needs to feel natural to the story.
It also bothered me that so often Ani’s rape became about Ben and how he felt. Now, Ben is the point of view character, and I tried hard to give him some slack, I really did. I’m sure it can’t be easy to see someone you love go through something so traumatic and not know what to do with it. I understood his confusion and pain, but I never felt there was a clear separation between the pain he naturally felt and just making her trauma all about him. I found it particularly upsetting because it’s so common for a woman’s issue to become all about the men in her life, so to find this in a book that was otherwise progressive(in some ways) when dealing with sexual assault really bugged me.
Mostly I finished Fault Line completely conflicted. There were important gems hidden in the story, but so often the writing got in the way of that and there were several little things that annoyed me–which can add up quickly, particularly in a book about such a sensitive topic. I felt page time was given to all the wrong things, the ending wasn’t an ending at all, and the dialogue and characterization left a lot to be desired.
I enjoy tough books about issues such as the ones found in Fault Line, so I thought I would like this book more than I did. There were so many things I wanted to appreciate about the book, but the faults I found got in the way. 2/5 cupcakes.