Free to Fall by Lauren Miller
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen; 469 pages
What if there was an app that told you what song to listen to, what coffee to order, who to date, even what to do with your life—an app that could ensure your complete and utter happiness? What if you never had to fail or make a wrong choice?
What if you never had to fall?
Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision making for the best personal results. Just like everyone else, sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn knows the key to a happy, healthy life is following what Lux recommends. When she’s accepted to the elite boarding school Theden Academy, her future happiness seems all the more assured. But once on campus, something feels wrong beneath the polished surface of her prestigious dream school. Then she meets North, a handsome townie who doesn’t use Lux, and begins to fall for him and his outsider way of life. Soon, Rory is going against Lux’s recommendations, listening instead to the inner voice that everyone has been taught to ignore — a choice that leads her to uncover a truth neither she nor the world ever saw coming.
I know I've joked about it. Technology eventually taking over the world to the point where we won't even be able to think for ourselves. In fact, I am pretty sure that there have been a few books already written with similar topics. But I read young adult, I love young adult. And as much of a fan I am of science fiction, adult science fiction novels often confuse me. This book on the other hand reads in a way that is understandable, without having a watered down plot. Whenever I read books like this that are so freaking good, but fly under the radar. I get annoyed. It makes me wish that I had more time in the day to read. In fact, this book almost did go unnoticed by me. Mostly because of the cover. I found it to be very plain, and it definitely doesn't do the book justice. But while the cover didn't sell me, the synopsis did almost immediately.
There's an app for that. Literally there is. Lux is an app that pretty much decides what choices you make in everyday life. For example, you have to make a 10 am train, and it's 9:15 and from your current location it'll take you 45 minutes to make it to the train station. Lux will tell you exactly what you need to do to make this train. From how fast you need to walk, and that you'll still have time to grab your umbrella from your basement and still make your train. Lux will even decide what foods you should eat and when. Now for someone like me, I would find this to be convenient to a certain degree. I tend to the be the person that's last to order at a restaurant because it takes me forever to decide. Now if an app can decide what meals I would enjoy the most, sign me up. But if something is telling me how to live my everyday life, such as whether I should call a friend or not, don't sign me up. I like having a freedom of choice.
Free to Fall tells the story of Aurora (Rory) Vaughn. Rory is a bit of an over achiever. She has spent most of her life preparing to get into a prestigious school in Massachusetts called Theden Academy. Just like most people, Rory relies on her Gemini. Gemini is the device that the app Lux runs from. They have pretty much taken over for cellphones, and any other portable devices because it has all of these in one. Rory's best friend is Beck. I adore Rory and Beck. They have a strictly platonic relationship that smashes the theory that a guy a girl cannot be just friends. We need more relationships like this in young adult books. Rory's mother died during child birth, and before she leaves for Theden she finds out that her mother attended the school as well. From there on, she feels a connection to her mother, along with a new sense of belonging.
Now I read this book in 2 days. This book is almost 500 pages. So for me, that's a pretty big deal since I am a slow reader. But I just couldn't put this book down. It's science fiction with a small hint of dystopian. I know that sounds really weird because it's strange to describe a story as a hint of dystopian. But honestly while reading I had a hard time categorizing it until I finished. The science fiction aspects are present very early on, but the dystopian aspects are released later into the story.
The character development in this was outstanding. As with any novel you learn about more about some characters over others. And some you learn more about as the story goes on. But the relationships between Rory and the side characers were built really well. Especially her relationship with her love interest North, and her roommate Hershey. I loved Rory and North. Now this story had the potential to have a love triangle. Thankfully the author spared us from that, and had Rory make her decision pretty early on about which boy she wanted to pursue. And as for Hershey, I admit in the beginning I didn't like her. But she grew on me. The strength and growth of Rory definitely was a highlight though. She is thrown so many twist and curve balls, but powers through them all. If I were faced with her decisions and observations I don't think I would have been strong enough to survive. But Rory is the perfect example, of what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. And that you should always trust, and listen to your gut.
Now with the way the story ended, there could possibly be a sequel. But I am pretty sure this is a standalone. In fact, I would be pretty content if it stayed a standalone, but I would be okay if the author decided to continue. This a book where you can't just wrap everything up in an epilogue, and I am glad that it ended leaving me with a few answers. Sometimes all of your questions don't have to be answered to make a great book. Sometimes it's good to have the reader decide for themselves.
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