|TITLE: Fall From Grace AUTHOR: Charles Benoit|
PUB: HarperTeen PUB DATE: 5/8/12
FORMAT: ARC, 293 pgs
SOURCE: from pub for review
Grace always has a plan. There’s her plan to get famous, her plan to get rich, and—above all—her plan to have fun. Sawyer has plenty of plans too. Plans made for him by his mother, his father, his girlfriend. Maybe they aren’t his plans, but they are plans. When Sawyer meets Grace, he wonders if he should come up with a few plans himself. Plans about what he actually wants to be, plans to speak his own mind for a change, plans to maybe help Grace with a little art theft. Wait a minute—plans to what?
**While I've tried to remain as spoiler free as possible in this review, and I don't go into any specifics, I have very strong thoughts and opinions, that when expressed may allude to certain book details**
THREE WORDS: Flat. Unlikable Characters.
MY REVIEW: I love a good coming of age contemporary and based on the synopsis, Charles Benoit’s Fall From Grace seemed like my kind of story. It was, but it wasn’t. It has all the potential to be a great, witty and even provocative contemp., but unfortunately it failed to live up to my expectations.
Sawyer has plans. Well, at least his parents and girlfriend have plans for him, but they’re plans nonetheless. Even if they are boring plans that Sawyer isn’t sure of, he goes along with them. That is until he meets Grace. Unpredictable, mysterious Grace. Grace has her own plans. Plans to be rich and famous and to have fun. Especially to be famous. And when her plans- including art theft-involve Sawyer, he finds himself questioning everything and having real fun for the first time.
The plot sounds super exciting and fun, right? Too bad the execution fell flat. As I mentioned above, the idea has great potential but the story ended up disappointing me greatly.
Fall From Grace is a quick read, which may be a part of the problem. There just doesn’t seem to be enough development: story development, character development, relationship development. The story itself could have gone in a lot of different directions and I’m not a fan of the direction it takes. I love the concept of two teens stealing art from a museum and concocting a wild, elaborate plan to do so. I mean that concept has intrigue, mystery and thrills…but, the way this idea played out in this book lacked any real thrills, unpredictability or thoughtfulness. Where are the OMG moments, the fist in the air triumphant moments, the thought-provoking material? Not in this book apparently.
Then there are the more emotional stories- Sawyer and Grace’s stories (both individual stories and their intertwined story). When the book began I thought Sawyer would end up experiencing some powerful coming of age experience and come into his own as a wiser, more thoughtful individual. This never happened. Yeah, Sawyer experiences some interesting and out there things, but his character never grows or evolves. In the end, he’s really the exact same person he was at the beginning and pretty much in the exact same situation: a young man who lets his parents, girlfriend and friends run his life. And it’s this lack of character evolution, along with being quite boring and flat, that made Sawyer a hard main character to connect with or like.
Now, Grace I actually liked. In many ways, she’s an enigma, a mystery that we never quite figure out. I really liked her spontaneity, humor and cleverness. The few witty moments in this book come courtesy of Grace. Honestly, I think Grace is the only reason I kept reading this book until the end; I needed to understand why she did the things she did and where she ended up. But, sadly, even Grace’s character and all the things I really liked about her were kind of ruined in the end for me. *le sigh*
And Grace was the ONLY likable character in the whole book. NO LIE! Sawyer’s parents, his girlfriend Zoe and Zoe’s friends were awful. Boring. Annoying. Dull. Slappable. I would have felt sorry for Sawyer if he wasn’t such a cowardly pushover. I found myself just hoping Grace would appear as I turned every page and wanting desperately to just skip ahead to her dialogue.
The ending. I think readers are either going to love or hate the ending. I hate it. Oddly enough, I think the author has crafted a very realistic ending, and I’m usually a big fan of realistic endings, but in this case I wanted my happy ending. I wanted the profound, powerful life lesson or revelation. It never came. *le BIG sigh*
MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Fall From Grace has a potentially awesome concept, but a disappointing execution. Even one likable character could not make this an enjoyable read for me.
When he's not traveling around the globe in the search of exotic, tax-deductible settings for his mysteries, Charles Benoit spends his days pumping out subliminal-laced advertising. Nominated for an Edgar and a Barry, Relative Danger won the Franklin award and was the darling of fans and critics alike. Out of Order (2006) is set in modern India while Noble Lies (September 2007) takes place in Thailand.
Photo credit: Kurk Brownell Photography