Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies | an intriguing premise undercut by a terrible main character

3 Stars

Twin Peaks meets Stars Hollow in this paranormal suspense novel about a boy who can reach inside people and steal their innermost things—fears, memories, scars, even love—and his family’s secret ritual that for centuries has kept the cliff above their small town from collapsing.

Aspen Quick has never really worried about how he’s affecting people when he steals from them. But this summer he’ll discover just how strong the Quick family magic is—and how far they’ll go to keep their secrets safe.

With a smart, arrogant protagonist, a sinister family tradition, and an ending you won’t see coming, this is a fast-paced, twisty story about power, addiction, and deciding what kind of person you want to be, in a family that has the ability to control everything you are.

Hey guys! So I’ve been out of the country for the last month and a half or so (it felt much longer, believe me), but I am more than ecstatic to be back to the world of stable Internet connection. I did get some reading over my vacation (when I wasn’t being bitten by mosquitoes in India, of course) so I am super hyped to talk about them.

Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies has a super gripping title. It’s morbidly humorous, and the blurb sounds interesting. I think the the title is probably the strongest point of this novel, which says quite a lot about the book. This books follows Aspen and his family, who have the power to steal anyone’s personal characteristics, whether it be personality or physical traits. His family has, for as long as anyone can remember, has a ritual where they use this power to steal things from people to stabilize the cliff that looms over the town to avoid mass destruction.

This premise is completely fascinating. The concept of a sentient cliff that requires things to be stolen from people provides a super intriguing air of mystery and magical realism. Clearly, everything is not as it seems when it comes to the ritual, cliff and even Aspen’s family, and the fact that this is apparent to the reader from the beginning sparks interest. Unfortunately, this premise that had so much potential was so wasted on a terrible, terrible main character.

I have one word to describe Aspen Quick: asshole. That’s all he is. He has this amazing power to take anything from anyone, and he abuses it to no end. He’s arrogant, and doesn’t give a second thought to taking whatever the hell he wants from anyone, with no thought to how he may be altering that person. I held out hope that this was the kind of book where he would become aware of his assholery (since his self-realization is the real message of this book) and become a better person, and I think that is what the author intended to do, but I couldn’t buy it. His big realization that his power causes harm happens in the last page of the book, and never felt deep or profound enough to be convincing. A whole book full of being a jerk doesn’t disappear immediately, Aspen.

If you want further proof of him being a terrible person, 80% of the book centers around Aspen forcing the girl he likes to fall in love with him, by taking away her love for his best friend and CONTINUALLY taking away any feelings she continues to develop for the best friend. It’s mentioned in the book that he once took away a club bouncer’s ability to tell a fake ID from a real one, and his cousin took away a security guard’s knowledge that pointy things aren’t allowed at an airport, for their own personal gain. This guy and his family’s selfishness has no end, and I became rather sick of him constantly manipulating people around him to get what he wants, and showing much too little remorse.

The underlying plot (other than the girlfriend stuff) was related to him figuring out the mystery surrounding his family’s magic. Most of the reveals were highly predictable, and at 20% of the book I could guess exactly what was going to happen, and suffered through 300 pages of Aspen struggling to figure it out.

After all this bashing, you may be wondering about my 3 star rating. Well, all 3 stars had to do with how cool the cliff and the magical realism was. Even though this book definitely could have been executed better, the idea is a good one, and I have to give the author credit for that. I would recommend this book if you’re looking for a quick read and have some time, but not if you’re hoping to be impressed.

~Liz

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