Thursday, May 06, 2010

In The Path of Falling Objects by Andrew Smith

Jonah and his younger brother, Simon, are on their own. They set out to find what’s left of their family, carrying between them ten dollars, a backpack full of dirty clothes, a notebook, and a stack of letters from their brother, who is serving a tour in Vietnam. And soon into their journey, they have a ride. With a man and a beautiful girl who may be in love with Jonah. Or Simon. Or both of them.
The man is crazy. The girl is desperate. This violent ride is only just beginning. And it will leave the brothers taking cover from hard truths about loyalty, love, and survival that crash into their lives.
One more thing: The brothers have a gun. They’re going to need it.

I love Andrew Smith’s blog. It’s poignant, fun, and thought-provoking all in one. My kind of blog. :) I searched out his books as a result, and wasn’t disappointed.

In The Path of Falling Objects is sharp and gripping, and I read it nearly in one sitting. The two main characters are very realistic, and such brothers. I have two boys who are close in age (granted, they are 4 and 6, not 14 and 16), but they behave in very similar ways that Jonah and Simon behave. They’re close, but can fight something fierce. So I identified with Jonah and Simon right away.

Actually, all the characters are vivid and fully-developed. It’s clear Lilly is in it for survival, and that Mitch is in it for Lilly. The farther the story goes, the more psychotic Mitch becomes. He is a truly scary character that could give sensitive readers nightmares (because he’s just that real).  Mitch's mental instability introduces a high level of violence not often seen in YA.  Some reviewers have called it gratuitous, but I disagree.  I thought it fit well with the story.  But if you don't like violent stories, then you should probably read something else.  :)

My absolute favorite part of this book, though, was the multiple viewpoints. First, let me say that I normally don’t like multiple viewpoints because most stories don’t need it. But the way Smith handled this is so unique and intriguing that the writer geek in me got all excited. Even though there are multiple viewpoints, the alternating viewpoints are still being told by Jonah. And that’s just way cool. If I’m not making sense here, then go read the book and you’ll understand... 

The title is perfect for the story, too.  The term 'falling objects' applies both in the physical and emotional sense, in most of the characters.  There is lots of depth to the story, and I'm sure I'll uncover more great stuff on the next read.  The only thing that was sparse was physical descriptions of the characters.  But, really, Smith showed them to me so well through their actions that I didn't mind.

I checked this book out from the library, but will be buying a copy to add to my personal collection. Smith’s next book, The Marbury Lens, is coming out this November (I think), and I’m itching for a copy.

Andrew, if we’re ever in the same city at the same time, I’ll be hounding you to sign my copies of your books. :)


Anna Staniszewski said...

I've been thinking a lot about multiple viewpoints recently, so your description of this book intrigues me! I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the review!

PJ Hoover said...

I have his latest here to read (The Marbury Lens) which is pretty close to the top of my TBR list.
This one looks fantastic too!

Tabitha said...

Anna - I loved the way he did the multiple viewpoints. I've never seen it done that way before, and it works really well. :)

PJ - I'm soooo jealous!! :)

J.R. Johansson said...

Wow, that sounds really cool. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the review! :)

cleemckenzie said...

Multiple povs always gets my attention. Thanks for the review. If you say it's gripping I believe it.