What if there was an app that told you what song to listen to, what coffee to order, who to date, even what to do with your life—an app that could ensure your complete and utter happiness? What if you never had to fail or make a wrong choice?
What if you never had to fall?
Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision making for the best personal results. Just like everyone else, sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn knows the key to a happy, healthy life is following what Lux recommends. When she’s accepted to the elite boarding school Theden Academy, her future happiness seems all the more assured. But once on campus, something feels wrong beneath the polished surface of her prestigious dream school. Then she meets North, a handsome townie who doesn’t use Lux, and begins to fall for him and his outsider way of life. Soon, Rory is going against Lux’s recommendations, listening instead to the inner voice that everyone has been taught to ignore — a choice that leads her to uncover a truth neither she nor the world ever saw coming.
All quotes were taken from an uncorrected proof, subject to change in the final edition.
One thing I really admired from the beginning of this story was how fast Lauren Miller made me care.
It came in a plain white envelope, which made more and less of it's significance.
FREE TO FALL has a very dynamic, if slowly paced, beginning. Right away I could understand and renvision Lux in my mind. One thing I loved that Miller used to her advantage–Beck. Beck was an awesome character and a great best friend. My only regret with him was that he was not seen more and so not fleshed out as much. Even through that, I really liked the bits and pieces of him that I did get to see, and the way he sees the world of technology as an artist.
I caught up with Beck a few blocks from school, stopped on the sidewalk, grinning at the image on his viewfinder. He held the camera out for me to see. It was a woman, obviously homeless, her sunken eyes looking straight at the camera. I don't want your money, her cardboard sign read. Just look at me, so I know that I exist. The words and her expression were arresting on their own, but they weren't what made the photograph compelling. It was the people in the foreground, the passersby, eyes glued to their phones as they hurried to wherever they were going at lunch hour, completely oblivious to the woman with the sign.
In the beginning, I wasn’t sure how I felt about Rory though. While there were times where I was irritated by her tether to Lux, Rory worked for me in those times because of one thing. It amped up the character value of both herself and Beck, pulling together a horrifying, yet completely seeable future. I liked the way it showed how people like Beck and eventually North can be both refreshing and healthy to have around.
I appreciated Rory’s humor and down-to-earth realisticness. While sometimes there was more descriptions and world-building needed more when it came to descriptions like the first impressions of Theden or the people around Rory, I liked the small details of her world that allowed me to build it in my head. I also enjoyed hearing about all the new technology, the science, biology and the ways that Miller was able to use every aspect of what she built to her advantage.
One thing about the romance–North. North didn’t really work for me. I understand why his character was necessary. There had to be someone to plant doubt and understanding, someone to hack their way into the system so that Rory could have backup. It wasn’t that I didn’t like North, I just didn’t understand his character. Why he was the way he was. Why he had to be the love interest at all. In fact, I don’t understand why Liam had to come in as a romantic interest at all. If anything, I wish Beck had been the romantic interest here. However, I love Beck as the best friend too. North does get mohawk points though.
I had a few problems with the “Doubt” and Lux. It was mainly because there’s no clear definition as to what the Doubt is. Maybe I just didn’t understand, but with the way that Rory is “drawn” to things and how the Doubt tells her things, it seems less like her random conscience speaking and more like clavoriency or magic.
Another problem I had was with triggers. I understand Rory’s interest, I understand that her mom’s note was a driver of curiosity and the Doubt, but every trigger has a limit and by the time that her mom’s note trigger ran out–I felt it way past it’s ending point. Other than that, I had a lot of fun with this plot. The pacing does slow down a little bit right in the ending of the middle in the point where everything was just falling apart but it brought itself back together again.
I pretended not to see Liam and looked for Griffin. He was easy to spot: Surrounded by a group of aging alumni on the far side of the room, Griffin was talking animatedly with his hands. I caught the word empire on his lips.
Who can read someone’s lips with an uncommonly used word in everyday conversation like empire? There were a few small details to FREE TO FALL that were unrealistic, but I was just nitpicking.
Another thing I really liked about this story was the humanity elements to it. Like Divergent, Legend and many other dystopias, it asks many questions about the humane in humanity and how far is too far. In doing so, FREE TO FALL becomes a powerful, well-told story that asks many questions about the path that we’re going down–and what will happen if we end up the way Rory does. I loved so many of the elements, twists and turns to FREE TO FALL and while I think that the ending was rushed to pack everything into one novel, I was very satisfied with the ending. 4 stars.
Lauren Miller: My Top Ten Favorite Apps
JELLY (Free): If life were a game of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, then having Jelly would sort of like having a Phone-A-Friend button on your phone… if you were friends with a whole bunch of people you didn’t know. Jelly lets you snap a picture of something, ask a question about it and get the answer from anyone else using Jelly.
TIMERCAM (Free): TimerCam let’s you take selfies without holding your phone. Essential if you, like me, prefer to have more than just your face in the photo.
VENMO (Free): Venmo is like a less complicated PayPal without the fees or the middle man. It connects to your bank and instantly sends money to friends you owe. Venmo is great at group dinners, because it lets everyone chip in for what they ate without forcing the waitress to split the check 9 ways.
WIKITUDE (Free): So Wikitude was part of the inspiration for Lux. Wikitude pulls up info on on bars, restaurants and landmarks based on what your camera sees. There are other apps that do this, but Wikitude has some really cool filters, allowing you to narrow your choices. It’s also great for the directionally challenged (me), since the bar/restaurant/landmark you’re reading about is always straight ahead.
WAZE (Free): I’m still on the fence about Waze but I use it constantly so I decided to include it. It’s basically a map/navigator app that uses community-generated real-time traffic info. The only real problem with it is that it’s not all that, well, smart. It’ll give you this seemingly awesome secret route home which you’ll discover halfway into it requires a left hand turn across four lanes of traffic during rush hour. Doh. But it did show me the fastest and most scenic route to Whole Foods from my house.
Wikipanion (Free): Okay, so I’ll admit, I’m a little obsessed with Wikipedia (c’mon, what author isn’t?!) Wikipanion is the Wikipedia app. You can also tweet whatever cool facts you unearth.
FLIPBOARD (Free): Flipboard calls itself “your personal magazine,” which is a pretty accurate title. You pick categories that interest you and the app aggregates news stories for you. The functionality is great, but the aesthetic is awesome. You literally flip through the stories you like, like you’re flipping through a paper magazine.
WaterMinder ($0.99): This app should not need to exist, but it does. WaterMinder is a water tracker and reminder app. Yes, that’s all it does — it tracks how much water you’ve drunk and reminds you when you need to drink more. I am horrible at drinking water. Staying hydrated in general seems to be beyond my un-app-assisted capabilities. With WaterMinder, I have no excuse.
Pocket Yoga ($2.99) – This app is pretty much what it sounds like. A yoga app. It’s not the cheapest out there, but I’ve tried a bunch and this is by far my fave. Awesome when you’re on book tour. Or just too lazy to drive to class.
Last Time ($1.99): So I’m putting LastTime on this list despite the fact that I’ve never actually used it. I keep saying I’m going to, but haven’t yet. Which is why I missed my last oil change by about 3000 miles. Last Time keeps track of the last time you did something and reminds you when it’s time to do it again.
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