Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book Review (ARC): Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

Review copy from Netgalley

Release Date: September 9th, 2014
Info about the author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Age group: YA
Pages: 304
Preorder the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

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.


A popular high school junior Liz Emerson from Meridian High school has decided to commit suicide. She has decided that the world would be a better place without her. That the lives of those around her would get better if she stops to exist. Falling into Place delves right into WHY Liz Emerson thinks that she should die. And what happens when her attempt fails. 

The narration of this book is something I haven't seen before. I don't want to spoil the narrator for you, but all I'll say is that it's definitely something I did not expect. The story gives you little hints about it and I did figure it out myself pretty quickly, but despite that, I really enjoyed Zhang's twist to the narration. Zhang has bravely decided to use nonlinear narration in her debut, which luckily works well and gives the novel a puzzle like element - you have to keep reading to fill the gaps, to get more information, to understand why Liz has decided to end her life.

Though Liz is the main character of Falling into Place, she isn't the only character the novel focuses on. Through flashbacks, the novel highlights Liz's relationships with people around her - her friends, her mother, the boy who has liked her since 5th grade, the people she used to bully.  Through these flashbacks, we get to see Liz through the eyes of other people - we see that to some she is special and loved; to some she is a threat.

Though the flashbacks show Liz as a bully and bit of a bitch, I felt for her. The regret inside her is so intense and she knows that she needs her, but she does not know how to ask for it. Zhang does not glorify her, does not glorify bullying, but shows the intense truth of it, proving that those who bully are usually a lot more troubled than those who are bullied. Liz feels bad for what she has done, but she does not know what to do - it seems like no one notices or cares that she is feeling bad, and eventually thinks the only way for her to stop tormenting others and also herself is to end her life.

Falling into Place is one of those books that I had to read through on one sitting. The story pulled me in from page one and the nonlinear, puzzle like narration made me want to keep turning the pages.  The pacing is brilliant, with short and long chapters mixed together in perfect combination. Falling into Place holds its grip throughout and I wasn't able to put it down until I reached the last page. And when I did, I wanted to go back to the beginning and read it again.

I immensely enjoyed Amy Zhang's debut. Her writing is poetic, flowing and fast paced. Her characters are interesting and extremely multi-layered- just when you think you know all about these characters, a new flashback takes you back in time and shows a completely different side to them. Zhang's approach to high school drama and bullying is honest and raw, which shows Zhang really knows what she is writing about. In a post on her blog she says that Falling into Place is everything she wanted to say during high school but didn't and while reading the novel, I went back to my own high school memories and started to wish I would have said a couple of strong words for several different people. If you have been in high school, I promise you that you can identify with at least one of these characters. I went to a very small high school and still found some familiar characters from Falling into Place. I have a feeling Amy Zhang will hit it big time with this one. 


  1. Yay! Glad you liked this too! x) I actually knew who the narrator was early because I'd read the author talking about it on her blog like when she was drafting it! Which was super exciting, because I kind of watched it go from draft to published book and then I read it and ajfdksalda. It was awesome. Perfection. I LOVED IT. I really struggled to connect to Liz on any level though, because she was a seriously mean girl. :| I think it only got a 4 from me because of that. But otherwise? Lurve.

    1. I really did! I kind of started to guess on the narrator as well once I read on, but it was interesting to see how the author developed it. It's awesome though that you've kind of been invested with this one since the time it was still a plan of a book, not an actual book with publication and everything.
      Yeah, connecting with Liz was difficult, but I think that there was something in her that made me feel for her.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one. I believe I have a copy for review, so I'll have to move it up the pile. The unique narration and nonlinear story telling both sound intriguing. Definitely excited to read. Great review!

    1. You definitely should give this a go ASAP - it was super quick to read, but also a title that at least I still think about.
      Thanks for stopping by :)


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment!