Monday, July 21, 2014

Free to Fall by Lauren Miller

Free to Fall
by Lauren Miller
Read: July 4 - 5, 2014
Published: May 13, 2014 by HarperTeen
Source: Library
Category: YA, technology, sci-fi, standalone

Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository

What if there was an app that told you what song to listen to, what coffee to order, who to date, even what to do with your life—an app that could ensure your complete and utter happiness? What if you never had to fail or make a wrong choice?

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Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision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 


  1. Thanks for recommending this book, Lauren! I completely passed it by as well because it didn't seem like something I would enjoy. I really ending up enjoying it. Especially with all those twists, turns, conspiracies and enemies. I can't say I foresaw many of the events, which was great because it kept me on the edge. I liked Rory and North's relationship, but I did think it wasn't as completely developed as it could have been. I'm not complaining though because the author did a good job with the plot.
    Great review, Lauren! :)

  2. I get so super excited when I see some reading this and loving it. I was such a huge fan of Lauren Miller's first book Parallel that I was so scared to read this one, but I honestly think I loved it even more. It was so relatable and something you could actually see happening some day even though it was a touch more advanced than where the world is now. And I love Rory and North. Great characters to tell this one. So happy you enjoyed it.

  3. I agree, I really liked this book too. I enjoyed the mystery aspect of it, the romance, and the social commentary as far as relying on technology. Definitely made me think! Have you read The Circle? It's not that great a book, but it gives you so much to think about as far as our society, social media, etc. Our book club had an amazing discussion! Great review, glad you liked this one! ~Pam

  4. I love this premise! I haven't read anything by Lauren Miller yet, but I like the societal commentary. And now I want to read about the amazing romance and learn all about the world. I haven't heard much about Free to Fall before, but now it sounds like my type. Thanks for the review!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  5. Very happy you ended up loving this, Lauren! I figured you'd really appreciate the romance, with it's low angst and no second half drama. It's a very relatable story, and I'm glad that Rory was also an easy MC to root for (I was nervous she'd be *too* obsessed with Lux and I wouldn't be able to connect with her). Great review as always, love!

  6. One of your favorite romances of the year? GAHHH. Nick and Danielle obviously loved this one too so hard and now you? I shall devour this book happily, may I say. North sounds just like my kind of love interest and Rory sounds lovely. Also, it has mystery? I wasn't aware. I love the premise of this and the thought behind it. Cannot wait to dive in :)

  7. Yeah, that's not a great blurb. This book wasn't even on my radar until I read your review but now I think I might have to track it down at my library so I can see what the fuss is all about!

  8. Lovely and angst free romance? Now that sounds good, lol :D But I'm still not sure if this is a book for me :p Sigh. But I am glad that you loved it so much :D Amazing review sweetie. <3 And yay for no love triangle :)

  9. I definitely didn't love this one as much as you did, Lauren, but it certainly is such a thought-provoking and creative example of the places YA dystopian can reach when it breaks apart from the all-too-typical mold. (BTW, my former librarian sent me an electronic copy of SHIMMER and I'm nearly done! Will send you an email either later today or early tomorrow!)

  10. I never gave this book a second glance. I saw the cover and thought, "meh." I didn't take the time to read the synopsis; I thought the premise wouldn't grab me, because the cover didn't. But now, I'm feeling foolish. Evidently, there's a great plot at work here -- with substance and relevance; and the strong leads and their sweet romance make this book worthwhile too! I'm excited to give this one a try. Thanks for bringing Free to Fall to my attention, Lauren! Lovely, review!

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review

  11. Well consider me sold on this one Lauren! I love when a book I really had no plans to pick up absolutely blows me away, that's happened to me a couple times this year and there's nothing better:) I'm so in the mood for an adorable romance with absolutely no love triangle, and an exciting thrilling just makes it all the better. CANNOT WAIT to read this:)

  12. Okay, so it sounds like I need to unshelve my copy and make time for it pronto. Seems like this book is getting tons of attention recently and I'm missing out on a really thought-provoking story, plus a sweet romance, to boot. I'm sold.

  13. I only skimmed this because I've yet to post my review, but it looks like we had the same reaction to this book. I didn't expect to like it, but it made my overall 2014 favorites list, too! A really pleasant surprise. It makes me want to give her first book a second chance.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  14. So I did not actually love Miller's Parallel. I think I'm one of the few who didn't. But from what I've heard about Free to Fall so far, I think I may end up enjoying this one much more.
    The emphasis on corporations controlling people's minds kind of reminds me of both Infinite Jest and the Legend trilogy - though obviously they do very different things with that premise than this one does. But, still, it really is a fascinating concept worth exploring, and I'm glad to hear you thought it was well done in this novel, Lauren!


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