Title: Rocks Fall Everyone Dies
Author: Lindsay Ribar
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Source: Random House Canada (A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.)
Check this book out on Goodreads.
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. (Source: Goodreads)
The Quick family has always protected the town from the Cliff, the one that will fall down and kill the whole town if it breaks. The family steals things, parts of people, and offers them to the Cliff to keep it from killing them all. Aspen is in town helping with the ritual this summer, but when he learns that not everything he’s been told is true he starts to dig into the Quick family’s murky past and uncovers some not so nice things about them all…including himself.
Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies…is middling? I think I’d go with middling. I thought the idea behind the book was really intriguing. I thought the magic was interesting, if a little vague. I didn’t enjoy most of the writing though, and really disliked most of the characters to a point where I felt like it hindered my connection to the book. This book is tricky, it’s unique and interesting while also being kind of dull and uninspired in its writing. And the fact that it’s being marketed as having some similarities to Twin Peaks (a show I love and hate equally) is not really helping it since it’s…not like Twin Peaks at all.
The idea of this family that’s magical and secretive is intriguing, how can that not hook you? I thought the whole idea of their magic healing this Cliff was really cool. I also liked the fact that right off the bat it feels not to pure and simple – there’s an undercurrent of evil about this family, even if it’s well-meaning. That was fabulous, Ribar really drew me in with that. I think it carried well throughout the book as well. There are quite a few twists and turns in this book, which got a little convoluted I’ll admit, but they never really lost me. I liked the twists, I liked that the ending was not so perfect. There was something charmingly mysterious about the whole world of Rocks Fall that I loved.
I really liked the magic in this book. I don’t know that I’ve read anything where the magic was quite so specific as in this book – removing things from people by reaching into their very essence essentially. Aspen can reach into his girlfriend, make her stop being jealous, and fix everything. That was fascinating. There’s so much more to it but it would sort of spoil the plot – just know that it’s interesting, unique, twisted, and sort of grim, the Quick family magic.
The writing in this book was subpar to me. There were a lot of iffy things for me. It’s hard for me to describe exactly what was wrong for me in the book, but I know of a few things that kind of built on each other. For starters, I didn’t feel like the characters spoke like real teenagers at all, it seemed more like the weird stereotypes older people have of how teenagers speak, but not how real teens do. Maybe it’s just the teenagers I know? I don’t know though, it certainly felt like Ribar was underestimating their intelligence at times. They don’t talk like realistic characters in any way. There was also an over reliance on vague segues into implied sex scenes that oozed bad “teen novel” stereotypes to me.
Another thing that really bothered me right off the bat was Ribar’s constant, insulting use of “nerd” to describe groups of people or individuals throughout the book. I get that this could be a “character trait” of Aspen’s but it felt more like an unconscious and constant insult towards people whose interests are on the “unconventional” side. Though, to be fair, are comics really that unusual of an interest anymore? Not really. And using the term “nerd” to insult people feels sort of antiquated and yet it happened frequently throughout this book. Major turn-off. These sorts of things just built on each other and made me unhappy with the book overall.
The characters in this book are all kind of despicable. Aspen especially is just plain awful. He does unforgivable things to people because he “loves them”. That meant that he was a really unlikable narrator (pair that with bad writing and you’ve just got bad character development too). I know you’re saying “well there can be horrible people in books but they can still be good and interesting books.” Yes, like Wuthering Heights another book full of the worst people ever. The difference being that they were horrible people who were dripping with intrigue. Aspen and his family are just blandly bad people. It meant that hating Aspen also meant finding the book hard to care about. Yeah I thought it was a cool-ish story, but I didn’t really care about Aspen, I wasn’t invested in his future.
It’s hard to say if I’d recommend this book because it was so middling for me. It’s interesting, don’t expect Twin Peaks level intrigue though.