I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of Falling by T. J. Newman. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
I fully believe that if I hadn’t had to go to work, I would have finished this book in a few hours. As it was, I read about two thirds of this in one day!
In Falling, nearly one hundred and fifty people board a plane in Los Angeles, heading to New York City. What they and the flight attendants don’t know is that that morning, the pilot’s family was kidnapped. Now, the pilot has been issued an ultimatum: if he doesn’t crash the plane, the kidnapper will kill his family. He has the duration of the flight—a mere five hours or so—to decide what to do.
I don’t normally read suspense, but I’m really glad I read this one!
The pilot, Bill, was a decent character, though he’s not the most original. He’s kind of a generic everyman thrust into an insane situation that we’ve seen in lots of stories like this. However, Newman does a great job of establishing his bond with his wife and children, so it’s easy to sympathize with his plight. The emotions are very real.
The other characters are excellent, though, especially Jo. She absolutely stole the show for me, though obviously I can’t tell you why.
The pacing of this story, which takes place in about five hours, is relentless and exciting. The varying points of view we get, from Bill’s wife Carrie, to the flight attendants, to Jo’s nephew Theo on the ground, give a wonderful multi-dimensional look at what’s going on. The audience tends to know more than each of these characters, and the resulting dramatic irony is wonderful.
On another note (and this is verging slightly into spoiler territory, so if you want to read this book, look away now, I guess?), I thought I was going to be irritated at the ethnicity of the kidnappers. For the first half of the book or so, I kept thinking, can’t we have a more original plot than vengeful extremists from Syria taking over a plane? However, as more and more information was revealed, a different picture was painted. I ended up feeling pretty impressed by the nuance that Newman was able to bring to this. I don’t want to give too much away, but these characters certainly make you think.
In the end, Falling is an intense read, with plenty of action balanced wonderfully by the believable character moments. I feel like I just watched a movie, it’s that vivid. Some of the plot points were a little predictable, but others weren’t, and overall this was an excellent story! You really feel you’re there with the passengers, as Newman’s decade of real experience as a flight attendant shines through.
Content note: A few scenes of graphic violence, plus just tons of suspense in which lots of people are in peril.
Overall rating: 8.8/10
Falling will be published on July 6th, 2021!