Luce can't remember a time when she didn't see the shadows--dark black moving shapes that come and follow her, usually near water or in dark areas. After years of attempting to "fix" their odd daughter, Luce's parents send her to a northeastern boarding school where the worst happens and Luce ends up involved in a mysterious death. At this point in her seventeen years, it's reform school as the only option, so her parents enroll her in Sword and Cross, which would have been bad enough if the one guy Luce feels she somehow knows hadn't flipped her off on their first meeting. But she can't let that stop her, and her obsession with the beautiful yet distant Daniel grows as the shadows become bolder and death finds her once again.
Fallen by Lauren Kate is different among the young adult paranormals out today in that it deals with creatures not often featured: angels. Specifically, angels who have fallen from heaven for one reason or another, and are cursed. In this case, as the layers are slowly revealed, Daniel's curse becomes clear: he's forced to live forever, meeting and loving Luce every seventeen years...and then watching her die. But something is different this time, and the uptake is that an epic battle between good and evil has been ignited with the change in circumstances.
Fallen has a great premise; it just also has way too slow a beginning in a book of over 400 pages. Told from Luce's point of view, we get little insight into other characters for almost half the book, and Daniel remains enigmatic through 3/4 of the proceedings. Things seem to happen to Luce rather than having Luce take control of any situation, a storyline I hope will change in the next book to come in the series. And the final dawning of Daniel's true status on a perplexed Luce? I'm still scratching my head over just how she came to the conclusion she did because it really wasn't apparent to me how she connected the dots other than thinking about a dream a little bit.
Fallen's flaws are outweighed, however, by the novelty of the situations and the tragedies Luce and her classmates find at the hands of characters they choose to trust. Lots of questions are left unanswered in this installment, so I will have to hope that things are cleared up at least somewhat in the next book. But Fallen is engaging and definitely different than most other young adult paranormals out there. I say enjoy it for what it is and try not to nitpick the main characters too much--at least at this stage. But if Luce fails to understand more and take more control as the series progresses, then the disappointment will be justified. As it is, this is a good beginning and leaves me ready for the next one.