Title: Even Angels Fall
Author: F L Darbyshire
Publication Date: 6 January 2015
Publisher: Grosvenor House Publishing
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
After suffering an unthinkable loss, Abbey Miller and her family move to Leeds to rebuild their lives and start again, but the pain and grief that Abbey carries with her is impossible to escape. As she finds herself becoming increasingly isolated from her family, she develops a firm friendship with Lucy, Nathan and Liam, who introduce her to a brand new and exciting world, far removed from all of her problems. But will her new friends bring her the light hearted relief she has longed for? Or will she find herself getting drawn deep into their dangerous and intoxicating world?
I finished reading Even Angels Fall a few weeks ago, however I have been waiting to write my review as I felt that I needed more time to think about the story.
Even Angels Fall takes the reader on a truly emotional journey. It is a New Adult book and the story follows protagonist, Abby Miller. After suffering a terrible personal tragedy, she finds herself unsupported and side-lined by her family and, to make matters worse, she is then torn away from her friends when her mother decides to move them across country. The reader goes hand-in-hand with Abby as she tries to find her place in this new and unfamiliar life that has been forced upon her.
Abby soon makes friends with Lucy, Nathan and Liam. She is fascinated by the trio and the more isolated she becomes from her own family, the more she is drawn into their exciting shiny world. Abby meets the trio’s larger circle of friends (Alex, Tom, Darren, Sophie and Gemma), an eclectic mix who have, in essence, created their own ‘family’ as they all lack the traditional idea of a family. Abby finds sanctuary amongst these new friends, in particular the hunky but moody Alex, whom she quickly falls for. These new friends bring some level of normality into a life that is otherwise spiralling out of control. However, one person’s version of normality is not always someone else’s version of the same. The group live life on the edge and enjoy a hedonistic lifestyle of drink, drugs and partying. Whilst Abby initially revels in the lack of responsibility and worries that comes with that life, very soon things start to spiral dramatically out of control and Abby is forced to choose between her family and her friends.
The story itself is unpredictable. When I started the book, I did have some preconceptions as to how the story would develop, however I could not have been more wrong. Any time I thought I had an idea as to how the story would progress, it seemed to spin around in another direction.
I initially found the style of writing a bit challenging. The author has a unique way of writing from multiple points of view, but not using any breaks to indicate where one voice ends and another begins. The use of the third person present indefinite (simple present) tense gives the feel that you are right there in the pages with the characters, living life along side them. This style really worked well for the book and I was surprised to find that after the first couple of chapters it was not difficult for my mind to switch quickly between the characters.
I must admit that I faced some internal struggles with regards to the characters. On the surface, I thoroughly disprove of Abby’s friends and their antics, however by seeing the tale told, in some part, from their point of view, I found myself empathising with people when my conscience told me that I really shouldn’t. The group are all living life in the fast lane, trying to find a spark of light in a grey world. They are on a path of self-destruction and I wanted to shout at Abby, to make her realise the direction she is heading.
Even Angels Fall truly captures the essence of teenage angst at its worst. The author shows how easy it is for otherwise ‘good’ teens to become isolated from day to day life and how the usual pushing of boundaries can sometimes go so very wrong as those teens experiment with their wilder side and peer pressure. The author also cleverly demonstrates the nature of teenage infatuation, both in regards to romantic and platonic relationships, describing a close bond between the friends that go well beyond the norm.
The story dragged me in and mixed up so many emotions for me. I rarely cry when reading or watching movies, however I will admit that I spent the last hour of the book unable to hold back the tears. I found myself so emotionally affected by the story that I felt exhausted by the time I reached the last word, although that might also have be partially due to the late night I spent finishing off this book! In fact, I’m finding it hard to make this review flow well because my thoughts still remained so jumbled about this book.
Be warned that this is not a light-hearted read. Even Angels Fall is a dark and cautionary tale of friendship, family, tragedy and internal struggles. It tells of infatuation, guilt, highs, lows and that very grey/shadowy line that distinguishes one person’s moral standards from another’s. It is certainly a strong warning for any teens who think that a partying lifestyle is the way to roll.
Well done to Fay Darbyshire for a truly astounding debut. Even Angels Fall is absolutely un-put-downable! Whether you like the story or not, it is certainly not a book that you would forget in a hurry!