Fallen is a book that I fell in love with almost immediately. It is a story that takes place in an apocalyptic world, not too far in the future. I tend to gravitate towards these types of stories. Either I am fascinated by the differences between the world I live in and the “alternate universe” one presented in a post-apocolyptic story, or some part of me just wants to “watch the world burn”. Either way, I found Fallen to be completely captivating.
The main character is a woman named Emma, who has become the caretaker of a group of children. One of the children, Mandy, is her own. The rest are, essentially, orphans due to the mists that are plaguing the world.
Emma, and the children, have to scavenge in order to find food and other necessities. She has made sure that each has a backpack, and that a toothbrush and a book are inside it. She reminds them to brush their teeth, tries to make sure they have food, and teaches them what to do if they get caught near the mists.
The mists are absolutely terrifying. No one knows what they are, where they came from, or how to stop them. Without giving away too many details, I can say that the mists consume almost everything they touch. They erode buildings. The mists will surround people and dissolve them from the inside out. Those that manage to somehow escape that fate become insane.
At the start of the book, Emma and her children are watching in terror as Mandy (who is five years old) nearly gets taken by the Mists. Emma goes so far as to point a gun at her daughter, hoping to spare her the horrible death the mists would impose. Fortunately, Mandy is saved when a group of men on horseback enter the town. It is believed that the sound of the horses somehow drives away the mists.
Emma learns that the men have a camp. They have shelter, food, water, and a means of protecting themselves. In order to keep her children safe, she makes a deal with Arthur, the man in charge. Emma offers to “contribute” to the camp if Arthur takes her and all her kids and keeps them safe.
Her “contribution” would be in the form of her body. She promises to be sexually available to Arthur (and only Arthur – not the rest of the men in the camp) if he promises to keep her kids safe. He agrees, reluctantly at first, insisting that he isn’t a good choice and that he has “done things”. Much later in the story, the reader finds out what he has done. It is something significant.
The connection between Emma and Arthur is one that changes over time. There is a point where it seems like he may have fallen in love with her. There is a time when Emma develops strong feelings for Arthur. These two states do not happen at the same time. I wasn’t sure how their story would turn out until the very end of the book.
The story takes place somewhere in France. Emma and Mandy were there on vacation when the mists hit. Her husband, and older daughter, did not go with. Emma spends most of the book desperately hoping that she will be able to reconnect with them. It seems impossible. Are they still alive?
Overall, Fallen is a book that explores both the best and the worst aspects of people. Emma has been gathering up, and protecting, lost children. She makes an incredibly difficult deal in order to help her kids.
Part of what she is trying to protect them from are the mists. In addition, there are roving bands of men who have gone crazy and have started hunting people for food. Somewhere in the middle of good and evil, there are grey areas. Several characters are keeping secrets that perhaps should have been shared.
Fallen is a book that fans of post-apocalyptic settings will enjoy. The reason why the world is “ending” is quite unique. You won’t find another book based on that concept. Readers will also be captivated with the characters. They each seemed so real! I highly recommend this book. It is the first in a series, which means that there is more to read when you finish Fallen.