London, in the not-so-distant future. Society has been divided into Pures and Crazies according to the results of a DNA test.
But seventeen-year-old Ana, whose father invented the Pure test, has uncovered a recording with dangerous evidence that the tests are fake. Ana has escaped her father and made it to the Enlightenment Project – a secluded protest group living on the outskirts of the City.
Back in the arms of Cole nothing is simple. Some in the Project believe her presence jeopardises their safety, others interpret her coming as part of their prophetic Writings. When the recording Ana stole goes viral, the Project comes under attack. Now Ana’s father isn’t the only one looking for her. She’s come to the attention of Evelyn Knight, the Chairman of the Board – a powerful woman with a sinister plan. Ana must take greater risks than ever to unravel the truth and discover the secrets that lie beneath the Pure test. But unlike her father, the Chairman doesn’t want her safely home. She wants Ana’s spirit crushed, permanently. And she will destroy everyone Ana cares about to do it.
Having read and tremendously enjoyed “The Glimpse”, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on The Fall. I was so excited by the premise of the first book, it even prompted me to include a discussion on top of my review to explore the mental health and discrimination issues. As it is, perhaps high expectations can sometimes mar our final enjoyment of a book. Had I not read the first book, I might’ve given half or even a full star more in the ratings. Thing is, once the premise, the setting and the characters are already in place, I think that it is the plot that carries the weight of drawing in the reader. Sadly, it always the plot that left me hanging out to dry.
The resolution did not reflect the reality that had been set up and in a bid to tie up all the loose ends, a number of sub-plots came up short. They were simplistic and convenient. I mean, how can the complicated relationship between Jasper and Ana, as a result of his eradicated memory that he partially managed to recover along the way, be resolved so directly? The twists and turns between the two were presented as vastly circumstantial and failed to delve into the dynamics of their relationship. As much as I was intrigued by Cole in “The Glimpse”, somehow that interest in him did not sustain very well in “The Fall”. He became more of an obstacle than someone integral to Ana’s actions and motivations, seeing how determined she had been to join the Enlightenment Project because of him.
Then there were the flashbacks, the dreams and the paralysis that some special people, including Ana could resist. The flashbacks that Ana had obscured the flow of Merle’s writing. The point of view was third-person, for crying out loud. Integrating flashbacks into the present without any form of indication makes no sense if an 18-year-old suddenly is looking out for her mother (who for the record, died when the main character was a child). The dreams were easier to differentiate since the font was italicized. Most of the dreams barely added anything to the story. I would’ve happily taken a par of scissors and cut them out, if not for the printed sides on the reverse. Doing so wouldn’t have impaired the understanding of everything in the least bit. Lastly, the explanation of the paralysis was lacking. Bye the time paralysis featured more importantly, I tried flipping back to find out what all that was about but I couldn’t find anything that made sense.
The single most redeeming factor of this book for me was the inclusion of Warden Dombrant. He worked for Ashby Barber, Ana’s father, and had a complexity to him that made me want to know what on earth was going on. Was he simply following Ashby’s orders, and so against Ana? Or was he for her? What commanded his fierce loyalty to Ashby? These questions propelled me during the lull parts of the book. Besides that, I was disappointed that the problem of the Pures versus the Crazies didn’t feature as dominantly anymore because things became more about the personal goals of the various characters involved, ranging from Ana and co., to Ana’s parents, to government officials, and to the leaders of the Enlightenment Projects.
At the end, the idea of the Pures and the Crazies drowned amidst all these sub-plots and while the resolution did address what would become of their society in future, it didn’t pan out as extensively anymore in “The Fall” as it first did in “The Glimpse”. For those who took offence at the portrayal of discrimination based on mental illness, maybe this is welcome news. Still, I think reading about things that offend us reminds us to retain our humanity, and to never engage in such inhumane practices.