Free to Fall
by Lauren Miller
Read: July 4 - 5, 2014
Published: May 13, 2014 by HarperTeen
Category: YA, technology, sci-fi, standalone
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository
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Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision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.
This is the second book this year that I very nearly passed by completely, but has become a favorite once I picked it up. The synopsis for Free to Fall did not interest me in the least when I first saw it. Big fail on my part, because I ended up loving this book so much. The themes are eerily applicable to today's society, and the romance is lovely and angst free. Plus it's a standalone, which is a rare treat this year. Especially in a book with sci-fi themes.
Rory lives in a future not that's very far away from now when people are even more addicted to their devices (if that's possible). Especially Lux, an app that directs all of your decision making. It tells you when to leave so you won't be late for school, what to eat (and what to avoid) to maintain a healthy lifestyle, what you should wear for the current weather conditions and anything else you can imagine. Rory is very happily living life following Lux, and everything gets even better for Rory when she's accepted to attend the prestigious Thedan Academy, a boarding school located in western Massachusetts.
Thedan isn't exactly everything Rory imagined - in both good and bad ways. She faces mean teachers, a suspicious roommate, family connections, a secret society, and her own doubts about whether listening to the inner voice in her head is as wrong as her society says it is. She also meets North, a boy from town who refuses to use Lux, and further challenges everything she thought about life.
North is a tattooed, mohawked dropout who has secrets of his own. On first glance, he is definitely not Rory's ideal match, nor she his, but they have one of my favorite romances of the year. One of the best things about North is how much he supports Rory. He also encourages her think and reexamine her ideas without being pushy or judgmental about it.
In places this book is a mystery, an exciting thriller, a comment on our society, and an adorable romance. It made me think so much about how much we unconsciously let corporations direct our thinking, and rely on them to make our lives easier. This story is about trusting your instincts, taking risks and not being afraid to live life, even though you might fail, as well as how much we miss when we're plugged into our devices and not the world around us.
There were a few moments where Rory lagged behind me in figuring something out, and a bit of relationship drama near the beginning. But North and Rory's relationship in the second half of the book is sweet and steady, and that more than made up for the beginning.
Free To Fall is one of the most thought provoking and timely books, I've read this year. I'm so glad that I didn't miss out on this excellent story.
Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone