by Shannon Messenger
Read: March 8 - 10, 2013
Published: March 5, 2013 by Simon Pulse
Category: YA Paranormal Romance
The Set-Up: Vane is a normal teen boy described as tall, athletic and attractive, which sounds like a winning combination, except that he has terrible luck with girls. Every time he goes out with one something bad happens, and he has yet to kiss any of them. He lives in the California desert with his adoptive parents. His birth parents died in a massive tornado when he was a child, an even that Vane miraculously survived. The only thing Vane remembers about the storm is a dark-haired girl, who he still sees in his dreams. Sometimes he thinks he gets glimpses of her in real life too.
That dark-haired girl is named Audra. She is a sylph or wind elemental, which means she can walk on the wind, and coax it to follow her commands. She is a guardian and her job is to protect Vane, a role that she takes very seriously, even to the point of sacrificing herself. When Audra makes a mistake while protecting Vane, and reveals his location to their enemies, she must help him remember his heritage, and hope that together they can defeat the warriors coming to destroy them. (partially adapted from Goodreads)
Have you ever see the cover of an upcoming book release, read the synopsis, or one glowing review and thought, "I must have that book in my life now(!!)," because you are totally convinced that you are going to love it? I did that with Let the Sky Fall. I thought the cover was awesome, especially because it was not the standard girl-in-prom-dress look, and from what I could tell, it seemed to fit the theme of the book (it did!). I immediately fell in love with the idea of sylph, or a paranormal society made up of people who could control the wind. I also found out that the book is a dual narrative between Vane and Audra, along with a few other details that made me believe that it was going to be TRIANGLE FREE. Of course that is always a win for me. And you know what, I did love all those things about this story. BUT unfortunately, as hard as I tried to convince myself that I loved this book, my feelings never really made it out of the like range. Unfortunately, I still feel like I'm having trouble articulating why I felt that way, but I've tried to outline below the pros and cons of this book for me.
Let the Sky Fall is a love story with paranormal elements. You need to go into this book expecting it to be primarily a slow building romance, something that I don't mind if it is done well. This book is also labeled as a forbidden romance. However, most of the epic reasons that Audra and Vane couldn't be together were told to us by Audra, so it was easy for me to dismiss them as mostly in her mind. This was also essentially Vane's mindset throughout the book, and I was completely with him in being ready for them to get together so they could move on to the how to make it work part.
Thankfully, one of the best parts of this story is Vane and Audra's perspectives. Sometimes I read a book with dual POVs and I'll forget whose head I'm in if I don't pay attention. Vane and Audra's voices are very distinct. Shannon Messenger did an amazing job at bringing each characters' personality to life through his or her words. I especially loved Vane's voice. He really is your average teenage boy, and he thinks, talks and acts like one (except that he says dang and shoot, instead of the alternatives). Audra is difficult to warm up to at first, but that's because she puts on a tough exterior due to some past events that are still haunting her. At the end of the book, I felt like I knew them both well, and I was proud of the progress the'd made. I would probably have dismissed this story if it wasn't for how much I enjoyed being inside these characters' heads - especially Vane's.
I also really liked the Sylph mythology in this story. I loved the idea that the different families in the wind elemental community play off the characteristics of the four winds North, South, East and West (the people from the North wind being cold warriors, the Southern community having warmer, softer personalities etc.). However, we pretty much learn everything about the sylph from Audra, as Vane and she do not have a lot of direct contact with the community during the course of the story. I would have liked to have met, experienced and traveled to the places Audra talked about. In fact, Vane and Audra existed in a bubble for most of the book. Because this book takes place in the summer and Vane is not in school or working, we got very little of Vane's real life too. The parts of the story where they interacted with Vane's friends, or his parents, or the outside world, were some of my favorite sections. I really liked seeing their relationship in real-time.
Unfortunately, the high stakes, dangerous situation that Audra and Vane were in never really got me excited. Maybe because the pacing was slow, so I never built up the momentum, but the ending battle was as thrilling as I'd hoped it would be. There was also a big reveal near the end, that I though was more eye rolling than surprising. I've gotten a bit tired of that particular plot direction, so I was a disappointed that it was that and not something else.
Thankfully, this story is very much NOT a love triangle. That is obvious both in light of of the two voices written in the novel - when a book has a split perspective between a guy and a girl, it's pretty clear who the couple is going to be - and because of the way that the sylph community bonds in pairs (I will readily admit that I'm always excited when a story goes that route). So I was really disappointed that this book wasn't a perfect win for me. Even so, Let the Sky Fall is the first in a series and it was enough to keep me interested.
I also think this series has the potential to be really great going forward, especially as Audra and Vane's worlds expand and they have to figure out how they fit together - and separately - within them. I'm hoping that I will get more excited about their relationship when they have to face the reality of it outside of the bubble they create in this story - which is thankfully shattered at the end of the book. They definitely have lots to deal with in the future, and I am ready for the next part of their story.
Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Low