About the Book

Title: The Speed of Falling Objects
Published: 2019
Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Cover Story: Grown Up Book
BFF Charm: Big Sister
Talky Talk: Straight Up Survivalist
Bonus Factors: Bear Grylls, Jupiter Jones
Anti-Bonus Factor: Dan Scott Award for Awful Parenting
Relationship Status: Unlikely Allies

Cover Story: Grown Up Book

Lark! No big faces or cartoon people, no fancy dresses or bad stock photography. If I saw this book on a shelf, I would have absolutely no idea that it was a YA book. Is that a good thing? A bad thing? TBD, really, but I like the cover either way!

The Deal:

For being the daughter of a famous reality television survivalist, Danny “Danger” Warren is anything but dangerous. After losing an eye in a childhood accident, Danny plays by all the rules, worried that another accident could blind her completely, or that her detached mother finds her to be a burden, or that her father’s absence in her life is all her fault. So when the charismatic Cougar Warren calls Danny and invites her on his show as a 16th birthday present, Danny is ready to prove to her father that she’s got what it takes to make him proud. She’ll spend a week deep in the Amazon jungle with her dad, his film crew, and the world’s biggest, babelicious teen movie star, Gus Price.

But when a storm blows their plane off course and they crash in the jungle, Danny realizes that the Amazon is more deadly than she ever imagined. The surviving crew members have to find their way back to civilization, relying on Cougar’s know-how and trying to avoid the jungle’s poisonous snakes…and spiders…and panthers…and tree frogs. As they travel together, Danny begins to realize that the father she worships may not be the father she has. Also…is the world’s most famous teen idol checking her out?

BFF Charm: Big Sister

BFF Charm Big Sister with Clarissa from Clarissa Explains It All's face

Danny, Danny, Danny. First of all, girlfriend, quit talking about how plain and uncool and unattractive you are. If you’ve been stranded in the Amazon for a week and fictional Shawn Mendes is vibing with you, I promise you are not plain or uncool or unattractive. I know that losing an eye means Danny has had to relearn depth perception and movement, but you never feel sorry for her – even when it seemed like the author wanted you to. As a matter of fact, I was continually impressed with the amount of medical knowledge she had amassed from reading her mom’s medical journals and her ability to put that knowledge to use in some extremely squeamish circumstances. Sure, Danny was a little scared to film a survivalist TV show in the Amazon jungle but, uh, wouldn’t we all be???

It was Danny’s hero-worship of her stupid father that made me want to take her by the shoulders and tell her to GET A GRIP ON REALITY. Her dad was *extreme Jean Ralphio voice* the wooooooooorst and nothing she did would ever make him respect her. He never missed an opportunity to remind his crew that he was The Shit and she was just a stupid kid. And yet, Danny believed him?! I know we all want to be able to look up to her dads but he’d already abandoned her after she had a traumatic accident as a child. Every time Danny would do something totally bad ass, Cougar would be there to knock her down a peg and we’d be right back at square one.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Being stranded in the jungle with the world’s hottest teen star sounds super swoony, but in actuality…meh. First of all, everyone is traumatized and disgusting. Sure, shared trauma can sometimes be a recipe for romance, and maybe if Gus Price *were* Shawn Mendes this romance would’ve panned out differently, but early on in the story, we learn that Gus isn’t the person we (or Danny) thought he was. He grew on me over time, but unfortunately, he and Danny’s eventual coupling felt a little saccharine and insincere given the timeline and circumstances.

Talky Talk: Straight Up Survivalist

Survivalist stories are always really fun to read because you’ve got the action and adventure aspect, the suspense of wondering who will live and who will die and which poisonous tree frog will be the next cause of death. I thought Fischer did an incredible job of writing a story that felt really well researched and educational, and since she had survivalist expert Cougar Warren as a main character, helping the other characters along the way, this information was communicated in a really organic way. There were times, though, when I thought the story could have used a bit of emotional punching up. Sometimes it was so heavy with jungle survival facts, that the characters big emotional moments didn’t hit quite the way I would’ve liked. I never really felt that Danny was as traumatized as she should be from what she’d seen and what she was experiencing, but that didn’t stop me from reading this book in just a couple of days to find out what would happen.

Bonus Factor: Bear Grylls

I’ll admit I was always more a fan of Survivorman‘s Les Stroud, personally, but I liked that Cougar was a nod to Bear, even if I didn’t actually *like* Cougar.

Bonus Factor: Jupiter Jones

Brian the sound guy from The Office

Almost every person in this book was a terrible human being. Cougar’s assistant was willing to do anything to anyone if it meant getting the best Content™ for the show, and Gus Price was willing to go along with that for awhile. I’ll talk more about Danny’s parents below, and even her best friend was pretty mean in the few scenes she appeared in. But I say “almost” because of Jupiter Jones, the crew’s sound guy. Easily my favorite character, Jupiter was kind and caring, and the only person willing to stand up for Danny, even when Danny wouldn’t stand up for herself.

Side note: I totally envisioned Jupiter as William Jackson Harper, aka Chidi from The Good Place, but Brian from The Office is what popped up when I googled “boom mic guy” so we’ll go with that.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Dan Scott Award for Awful Parenting

Evil Dan Scott from One Tree Hill

WHEW BOY, Cougar Warren was a piece of work. I get that Fischer was going for a narcissistic, reality TV star personality, but I actually found Cougar to be a little…too awful. So awful, in fact, that nothing could redeem him by the end of the story for me, so his redemption arc fell flat. It took Danny’s constant need for his approval from eye-rolly to downright insufferable. If Cougar had been even a bit more sympathetic, it would’ve really changed my whole outlook on the book.

And while we’re at it, I had a few issues with Danny’s mom, Samantha, too, but they paled in comparison. Either way, Danny needs a lifetime of therapy.

Relationship Status: Unlikely Allies

Book, you aren’t perfect, but in this jungle we call life, few of us are. I found you highly entertaining and devoured you in just a few days, even if you didn’t give me the emotional connection I was longing for. We may not be soulmates, but we can be allies.

Literary Matchmaking

Girl Underwater

College swimmer Avery and her fellow swimmer Colin, who must survive the wilderness after their red-eye flight goes down in the Colorado Rockies.

A Map for Wrecked Girls

For a shipwreck story with complicated family dynamics and a little bit of swoon, check out A Map For Wrecked Girls by Jessica Taylor.

I Am Still Alive

Kate Alice Marshall’s I Am Still Alive is a brutal survivalist story about a girl stranded in the Yukon wilderness after the death of her off-the-grid father.

FTC Full Disclosure: I did not receive money or Girl Scout cookies of any kind (not even the gross cranberry ones) for writing this review. The Speed of Falling Objects is available now.

Rosemary lives in Little Rock, AR with her husband and cocker spaniel. At 16, she plucked a copy of Sloppy Firsts off the "New Releases" shelf and hasn't stopped reading YA since. She is a brand designer who loves tiki drinks, her mid-century modern house, and obsessive Google mapping.