Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Review: Fall from Grace by Charles Benoit

Title: Fall from Grace
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: May 8th 2012
Pages: 304
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Edelweiss
Add on Goodreads | Purchase on Amazon 
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?
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Fall from Grace sounded like my kind of book. I'm a big fan of books about a main character figuring out what he wants to do, as opposed to what others expect him to do. Grace sounded like a very fun character, so I was definitely looking forward to reading about Sawyer and Grace together. And then there's the art-theft/compromising-your-values aspect, another storyline I usually enjoy - reminded me a little of Pretty Crooked, which I thought was very cute and fun. But sadly, Fall from Grace ended up disappointing me.

Sawyer was an okay character. I didn't really have a problem with him, but I didn't like him either, and I found it a little hard to feel for him. I liked reading about him in the family-storyline, liked discovering alongside him what he'd like to do. His relationship with his parents was pretty well-done, and I found the conflicts between them interesting to read about. But in a few other situations, like in the scenes between him and his girlfriend, I did not understand him at all. It was kind of hard for me to get into Sawyer's head - I wanted to understand his emotions and his decisions, but I couldn't.

I was expecting Grace to be a great character, powerful and fun to read about. But she didn't end up being as great as I'd hoped - she was just lacking something, in my opinion. Parts of her personality didn't make sense to me - she's an outsider at her school, and she seems mainly okay with that, but her goal is to become famous. Those two things don't really work together, in my opinion. I think the reader never gets to really know her - I kept thinking that some big secret would be revealed soon, that Grace has some issues we're about to find out about, but then... nothing. I wanted to know more about her family background, why she does what she does, but we never really got to understand her.

Maybe my main problem with Fall from Grace is the narrative. Fall from Grace has a third-person narrator, and we spend most of the time outside of Sawyer's head. It's a personal preference, but I generally like books better when we're closer to the main character. The way it is, I felt somewhat removed from the story - I never really connected with any of the characters, and I just felt kind of distant.

One aspect I did like is the art theft storyline. I enjoyed reading about the planning and how they wanted to pull off breaking into the museum. That part was fun and defitely unique.

But then... the ending. That ending frustrated me to no end. If it was all supposed to end up like this, what was the point of the story? And what was that stuff about Grace's motivations? I didn't get it all.

I didn't connect with the story or the characters, so Fall from Grace didn't really work for me. But Fall from Grace isn't a bad book, and whether or not you can connect with the characters is different for every reader, so I don't discourage you from reading Fall from Grace - it just wasn't my kind of book.


  1. Here's your review! I read it last night at Goodreads because of your interview with the author. I got interested with the book! 

    Anyway, I agree with you. The story seems pretty really interesting. A character like Sawyer sounds so good to be developed and to be known. Just like a character like Grace, I'm wondering how will she be able to be famous. I find it amusing to know characters who struggle so hard to achieve something. But then, it's kind of weird on how Grace is an outsider at her school though her goal is to be famous. It's kind of contradicting. I'm thinking that maybe, there's something to be revealed at the end? But as you say, none! I think, it's one thing when books are written in the third person POV. I mean, when you read like that, it's kind of you're not part of the story so you can't really feel them! 

  2. Yeah, I usually have my reviews up on Goodreads earlier than I post them on my blog :)

    I don't think being an outsider and wanting to be famous are necessarily exclusive, but it didn't fit to my view of Grace's character - if you're really different and that's why you're an outsider, sure you can become famous. But it's said that Grace is really shy and doesn't talk to anyone at school, and that didn't fit to the way Grace is when she's with Sawyer, how she's talking about how fun is what's most important and how she will do anything to become famous. I just didn't get a clear picture of Grace's character.

    And I don't always have a problem with third person POV, even though I do prefer first person. I think if it's done well, it can definitely work - I just didn't think it worked in Fall from Grace, because we got so little feeling in what should have been a pretty emotional story.

  3. Yeah. I discovered that the other day! ;)

    She seems to be a little difficult to know with what you're saying. I think I'll read this to know! But it's just sad that they're not what you think they are. I really think that they're pretty promising.

    Me too! I actually have read a lot of third person POV books. Some are good, some are not. Though I prefer first person POV too because it's much more personal. But I think third person POV doesn't seem to be good here.

  4. It seems like you really didn't feel for the characters, for whatever reason. Maybe Sawyer's train of thought was too quirky, or not revealed entirely, perhaps to heighten the mystery or tension?

    It sounded like a great contemp/thriller, with the art-theft storyline, and how awesome would that be!!

    I used to not read books in 3rd person, but then I read Flat-Out Love which was a really close third person, and I saw how well it can be done. Like in Harry Potter as well. It all depends on how much insight we're given into the characters, if we're able to see their great thoughts, their ugly thoughts and the thoughts they're ashamed of. But that's what I like. To see characters in all their different shades of gray.

    When you said you were upset with the ending, is it because you thought Sawyer would really come into his own and live his own life? Or did he end up in jail in the end?

    I know what you mean about wanting to know more about Grace. When someone's complicated, you want to know why and how. So that you kind of make sense of them. Maybe Grace was just a vehicle for Sawyer's story? Do they stay together or was she portrayed as a mistake in a way?

    It's too bad you didn't like it:(

  5. I rarely know exactly why I can't connect with a character - I just sort of... can't. And with this one, I don't think we got enough insight into Sawyer's thoughts.

    I wouldn't really call this a thriller - the art theft is more... I don't know, it's more fun than anything else. Grace doesn't steal paintings because she wants to sell them or anything - she just wants to steal for the thrill, and she's planning on returning the paintings. 

    I don't *always* mind 3rd person POV - there are definitely books that do it well. The writing style combined with the narrative just didnt work for me in Fall from Grace. (And Flat-Out Love, again? I really have to read that book! :p)

    Umm... the ending - how much am I allowed/supposed to tell you, spoiler-wise?

  6. Tell me everything;)

    And OF COURSE Flat-Out Love!! I swear, it's my favorite book ever. Don't get me started on it because I'll never stop:)

    I see now what you mean about the art theft - I thought it was high-stakes, mega millions theft:) 

    Were you maybe not supposed to know a lot about Sawyer? I mean, some authors describe what characters do and put in dialogue but not much internal thought, so that you have to interpret why they're acting like they are. So it's like a movie in a way. Maybe there were some thematic questions that the author wanted the reader to think about through Sawyer? I don't know, I just thought maybe not having full access to Sawyer's thoughts was a stylistic choice.

  7. Not connecting with the characters, especially the main ones, is always a let down for me too, it's such a shame, because otherwise this sounds like it had potential!

  8. Ehh... I don't know if it was a stylistic choice, but even if it was, it was one I didn't like :p

    So, about the ending (SPOILERS ALERT for anyone else!!!): Yeah, I was expecting character growth, and for Sawyer to go his own way. But Sawyer ends up going to the college his parents want him to go, studying what his parents want him to study. And he's still together with his old girlfriend, who treats him like crap. Grace isn't exactly portrayed as a mistake, but Sawyer basically leaves her behind - Sawyer and Grace got caught stealing, and he has the option to testify against Grace and not have charges pressed against him. And, I don't know, I just thought the story would be showing how Sawyer grew as a person because of meeting someone unusual like Grace, which didn't happen. The situation at the end is basically the same one as at the beginning, only now he's at college. And that made the story seem kind of like it was going nowhere, to me.

  9. Now I get why it didn't work - it just didn't go anywhere. There was no progress, he didn't change, he just U-turned on himself without being brave and without sticking up for the one person who got him to start living and thinking for himself. I can't believe he turned Grace in. Just that negated any kind of redeeming quality he might have had. 

    I see why this was such a difficult read for you.

    Hopefully you'll enjoy your next read better!

  10. Exactly. I guess it's realistic, since in real life not everybody stands up for themselves and all of that, but for a book, it just seemed kind of pointless.

  11. Mehhhh I think I'm going to pass up on this one. A 2/5 star rating is a little low because quite frankly there are so many 5 star books out there - why bother reading this one?

  12. While I didn't add this book to my list, the repeat talk about Flat-out Love in the comments section has me wanting to read that one.  I am adding Flat-out Love to my list.  Thanks for the recommendation Christina!


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