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Stumble & Fail

How could a book about the impending apocalypse possibly be boring? Let Mandy W. count the ways. 

Stumble & Fail

BOOK REPORT for Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts

Cover Story: Meh-thereal
BFF Charm: No x 3
Swoonworthy Scale: 1, then -1000
Talky Talk: It's the End of the World as They Know It, and They Feel Fine
Bonus Factor: Apocalypse
Relationship Status: I'll Take My Chances with the Asteroid

Cover Story: Meh-thereal

I've come to the realization that I'm just not a fan of dreamy, ethereal covers. But my personal bias doesn't excuse this dude for sniffing the girl's eyeball.

The Deal:

There's an asteroid hurtling towards Earth, and there's only one week left until its deep impact brings forth armageddon. If you knew your days were numbered, how would you spend the precious time that you have left? Sounds like one of those deep hypothetical questions, doesn't it? If only this book got the memo, because its answer is SHIT ALL.

BFF Charm: No x 3

I'm taking a page from Destiny's Child and saying no, no, no to these main characters. But trust -- I really don't mean yeah, yeah, yeah.

Sienna should have been much more interesting than she actually was. After having just left rehab, she reunites with her family and meets her soon-to-be-stepmother for the very first time. There's a lot of commplexity to explore, but OMG WHO CARES because Sienna reconnects with her childhood friend Owen, so obvs SPARKS SPARKS SPARKS.

Zan got off to a bad start with me, by virtue of being named Zan.* She's still hung up on her dead ex Leo, and she's determined to figure out the secret he had been keeping from her before he died. No offense to the fictional dead, but I'd much rather create new memories than dwell on old ones in the face of impending apocalypse. 

*It's short for Suzanne, because YEAH OK, that's a thing real people would do. Let's try it out: Zan Collins wrote The Hunger Games. NOPE, STILL STUPID.

Caden's in some pretty sympathetic circumstances and he actually gives some thought to this whole end-of-the-world thing. I had been fairly neutral on his BFF status, but then something happens (more on that later) and YEAH NO THANKS.

Swoonworthy Scale: 1, then -1000

The first part of the score is to basically acknowledge the existence of love interests. Even though they have a shared history (back when they were five or something), it's totally instalove for Sienna and Owen. Zan's love life is pretty snoozy; her relationship with Leo is a lot more tell than show, and it really didn't do anything for me. 

If you're wondering where the sexing is in this pre-apocalypse novel, oh it's there. But EWW EWW GROSS. (Skip to the next section if you don't want spoilers.)

This doesn't even need any context, so here goes: Caden's dad hires a hooker to relieve Caden of his virginity. FATHER OF THE YEAR, that one. When Caden does end up losing his v-card, it's to a slightly older lady, Sophie. Who used to be HIS FATHER'S LADYFRIEND.

And it actually gets worse! Here's some post-coitus talk from Sophie (not immediately after, but still after the fact).

"Remember what your dad said? About the two of you being alike?"

[...]

"Trust me. [...] He's wrong."

Sophie's probably referring to their personalities rather than their bedroom prowess, but one way to eliminate any confusion is to NOT SHARE SEXUAL PARTNERS WITH YOUR FATHER.

Talky Talk: It's the End of the World as They Know It, and They Feel Fine

The chapters alternate between the three main characters, but the payoff of how these storylines are interconnected is not good enough to justify this structure. And as a personal peeve, Zan and Caden are on first name basis with their parents, which means even more names of characters that I don't care about to keep track of. (Thankfully, none of those names are as bad as Zan.) 

Aside from my many problems with the plot, the actual writing itself is fairly inoffensive. But there's an extreme lack of urgency, given that the end of existence is only a week away. Where's the chaos and panic, the rioting and the looting? Why isn't anyone in a mad rush to finish their bucket list? Why did Michael Bay do this story so much better? Why is a book about the FREAKING APOCALYPSE so boring? (The stuff with Caden doesn't count. No one needs that kind of excitement in their lives.)

Bonus Factor: Apocalypse

Well, if the world ends, at least I won't have to read this book again.

Casting Call:

Adelaide Kane as Sienna

Vanessa Marano as Zan

Cameron Monaghan as Caden

Relationship Status: I'll Take My Chances with the Asteroid

I was just casually dating this book; while it didn't exactly enter deal breaker territory, it didn't thrill me, either. Our relationship wasn't going anywhere and I realized -- perhaps a bit too late -- what what WHAT was I doing?! Why, if life is so fleeting, am I wasting it by reading this book? Although in its defense, it did succeed in showing me how valuable my time is. So, uh, thanks?

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Macmillan. I received neither money nor froyo for writing this review (dammit!). Tumble & Fall is available now.

Mandy Wan's photo About the Author: Residing in Edmonton, AB, Mandy unabashedly loves YA lit, frozen desserts, and terrible puns.