I first fell in love with murder mysteries when I was a kid and I picked up one of Christopher Pike’s young adult novels. I love his writing and the suspense he is able to create. “Falling” by Christopher Pike is no exception – it is a crazy rollercoaster of a read with non-stop action.
In “Falling” there are two main characters, Matt Connor and Kelly Feinman. Matt finds himself heartbroken and in his desperation puts together a plan to fake his own death and ruin Amy’s life, Amy being the girl who broke his heart. “The plan was intricate but simple. Pain in exchange for pain. And no Matt Connor left alive to take the blame.” (Falling, pg 29). Kelly Feinman is an FBI profiler turned agent that is finding it hard to follow the rules. “She had the same rationalization for her secrecy – she was chasing a wild lead, nothing more. Yet she was finally able to admit to herself that she was emotionally ill-equipped to be an FBI agent. She resented the chain of command. She wanted to be the boss. Worse, she wanted to be the hero.” (Falling, pg 187). After Matt carries out his plan, Kelly is brought in to solve the mystery and soon finds herself sympathizing with the bad guy.
I don’t want to give away too much, there are so many twists and turns in “Falling” and it really keeps you guessing the whole way though. This is the second time I had read it and (happily) had forgotten most of the book so it was just as suspenseful a read as the first time around. Christopher Pike does an amazing job developing his characters and creating people that you can’t help but relate to, even though you know that they’re in the wrong. It is so rare for him to create a character that is all good or all bad. The lines are blurry in his novels – the good guy sometimes turns down a dark path and the bad guy will sometimes show an unusual amount of kindness or selflessness. That is part of why his books are so addictive and so enjoyable. You never know who is going to come out on top and who is going to surprise you.
I found Amy as a character to be really interesting. She betrays Matt in the beginning, discarding him like he never meant anything to her. Then she turns around and marries another guy. Matt soon discovers that she is pregnant and by the looks of things, was pregnant before she dumped him. Instead of letting it go, Matt is driven to revenge for the pain that she caused him. But at the first moment when he has the possibility of letting her back into his life, he jumps at it. Her ability to manipulate everyone around her is impressive and sick. She breathes lies. She uses everyone to her advantage, not caring about repercussions. Even though Matt knows she is bad for him he is pulled back under her spell. “It was almost as if he heard her for the first time, and he knew she was telling him the truth. More truth than she had ever told him before. Yet her sincerity did not entirely sooth him. The devil knew when it was wise to tell the truth. Amy was honest when she was forced to be, or when it suited her.” (Falling, pg 203). His self-awareness is interesting when it comes to Amy. He knew and understood that she was using him and still could not find the strength to pull away from her. “One day she would cut off his dick and he would apologize. She used guilt as easily as she breathed. But it was not as if he was whipped. At least that’s what he told himself.” (Falling, pg 216). I liked this quote because it really highlights how conflicted Matt is when it comes to Amy. He can see that she is bad for him, sees that she is poison and that no matter what she does he will apologize like he is in the wrong. Matt and Amy’s relationship is completely fucked up; there is no getting around that.
The other main character, Kelly the FBI agent is a very interesting study too. Kelly stumbled into her career at the FBI after doing some consulting work for the bureau. She quickly found herself addicted to the life and everything that came with it, much to the disappointment of her family. Her headstrong attitude and her impatience for the political side of her work led Kelly to a major fuckup that almost took her life. Still getting back on her feet, Kelly’s husband leaves her for another woman. The betrayal that she felt when her husband left her is parallel to how Matt felt when Amy betrayed him. That is part of the reason that she is not only able to relate to his plight but sympathize with it. She gives her husband a powerful speech at one point that I feel represents so well how both Matt and Kelly feel as the wronged parties. “When it comes to betrayal there’s no such thing as maturity. It’s too basic a violation. You hurt me as bad as a human being can be hurt. At least the Acid Man was honest with me when he poured that stuff on my belly. He just wanted to torture me to death. There was a beginning and an end to his crime. But what you did to me has no end. It eats me night and day. You talk about how much happier you were when I was in your life. I have been left to live the dark side of that equation. I can only think back to when I wasn’t in pain all the time. I can’t think about happiness, not at all. That’s a luxury you stole from me.” (Falling, pg 246). I loved this speech; I thought it really shed light on the pain of betrayal.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely – it is such a good read. It’s one of those books that makes your heart race and your fingers clench around the book moving it closer and closer to your face because you cannot wait to read what happens next. “Falling” is such a good read and a great way to be introduced to Christopher Pike for any that haven’t read his work before. It’s probably not something you should pick up if you have any responsibilities though. Putting down “Falling” is next to impossible; it really is a great read.