Beautiful But Nonsensical: Tumble & Fall, Alexandra Coutts

Tumble & Fall

Tumble & Fall

Alexandra Coutts

A novel about the end of days full of surprising beginnings 

The world is living in the shadow of oncoming disaster. An asteroid is set to strike the earth in just one week’s time; catastrophe is unavoidable. The question isn’t how to save the world—the question is, what to do with the time that’s left? Against this stark backdrop, three island teens wrestle with intertwining stories of love, friendship and family—all with the ultimate stakes at hand. 

Alexandra Coutts’s TUMBLE & FALL is a powerful story of courage, love, and hope at the end of the world. 

One of my most anticipated reads of the year, I was increasingly disappointed when the average rating for Tumble & Fall began dropping lower and lower and lower as its release date neared. Now I can admit that though Alexandra Coutts’ debut was a lyrical and beautiful novel, it was somewhat meaningless, and even now, I have no idea what the whole point of the book was.

Summary: When news reaches the world that a huge asteroid, nicknamed Persephone, is on a collision course set straight for Earth, surprisingly nothing much changes. Nobody goes to work or school, but stays home to spend what’s left of their time with their families, silently preparing for the unavoidable disaster. Sienna is a girl struggling to find herself. Zan is trying to get over the loss of her boyfriend. And Caden is pent-up with anger, and wants nothing more than for his family to be whole again. But will they find what they’re looking for before the world ends?

Tumble & Fall‘s strongest point lay, without a doubt, in Coutts gorgeous writing. Even though the book may have failed in other areas for me, the writing was definitely one that I enjoyed immensely. Read this:

“It’s funny to think about endings now. Now that all there is to do is wait. Now that the real ending is coming, all of the other endings feel like something else completely. All of the goodbyes, and leaving the people she loved. The people she loved leaving her. They felt like endings at the time. But the next day, she had gotten out of bed, and maybe there was a hollow pit where her stomach used to be, maybe she didn’t feel like eating or talking or seeing people for a while, but mostly, things stayed the same.”

To make the experience even more magical, read that passage out in a soft and dramatic voice. BOOM. Beautiful. However, in terms of narration, I found it a little harder to get used to the writing style. The entire book is written in third person present tense, and while I’m used to third person narrations as well as present tense ones, I’m not used to the both of them combined. But it turned out that this style of narration worked really well for the book.

But that, unfortunately, is where all the good things about Tumble & Fall ends. Maybe it had something to do with my expectations, because what I got was not what I was looking for — and not in a good way. I think I was looking for something more to do with the asteroid, and the fact that Earth is ending in just days, and maybe how these three teenagers the synopsis mentions cope with it, and the things they do about it. What actually went down is the ordinary lives of three somewhat normal teenagers. Don’t get me wrong — I had absolutely nothing against this. I suppose I wanted more. More about Persephone, more about the chaos than of their lives.

That in itself didn’t make the book a less-than-enjoyable read, though. Coutts switches from three perspectives to tell their stories, and truthfully, I felt that that made it all the harder to connect with any of them. If that wasn’t already bad, the fact that Sienna, Zan, and Cadens’ voices all sounded too similar to be distinguishable put the final nail in the coffin. And this book is the kind of story that is very much character-driven, in my opinion, so it came as a huge disappointment when none of the characters particularly stood out to me, turning what could have been a hopeful, depressing, emotional story into something bland, and more often than not, boring.

Another thing that was possibly more dissatisfying than any of the above was the ending. Maybe I had my priorities wrong, but I’m sure a lot of people going into this book had a similar goal in mind: would Earth get hit by that asteroid? At least, that was what I was looking forward to reading about, so when the ending rolled around in all its open-ended glory (I just ruined it for you, I’m sorry), needless to say, I was angry. I mean, the asteroid and the outcome is one of the aspects of the book too. All the stories revolved around Persephone, somewhat, so I really wished that the author had ended with something definite.

All in all, while not the worst book in existence, Tumble & Fall was definitely far from perfect. Despite the poor characterization and story-telling, and the disappointing ending though, I did not hate Coutts’ debut. I think the author has much potential — especially with such skilled writing like hers — so I hope to see more improvement from her in the future. Right now, though, if you’re thinking of reading this book, I would suggest borrowing it from the library!

Who is this book for?

Anyone wanting to read this book should go in NOT with science fiction in their minds, but of contemporary. That way I think you’d have much better luck than I did!

2.5 stars

384 pages, e-galley from NetGalley (thank you!)
Published September 17, 2013 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Purchase: The Book Depository • Amazon


16 thoughts on “Beautiful But Nonsensical: Tumble & Fall, Alexandra Coutts

  1. Huh, I highly doubt that I will be reading this one anytime soon. Despite the beautiful writing, so many perspectives and a pointless novel aren’t worth it for me, sadly.

    Lovely review though! <33

  2. I haven’t seen many positive reviews for this one — I kinda expect that low rating when I saw your review title for the first time — Beautiful but Nonsensical. XD I love beautiful writing but to be honest if it’s the only positive thing in a book then usually I will get bored….eventually. Tumble and Fall — suits the title xD I hope you have better luck with your next read 🙂

  3. Ugh it’s so depressing when the characters’ POVs all sound the same. I feel that, as the author, if you’re going to do multiple POVs, make sure you actually CAN make them individual. I have to say, though, your review seems a bit more positive that most others I’ve seen. Everyone can’t seem to get over how boring the book is haha. I think I’ll take your advice and check it out if I ever see it at the library 🙂

  4. You hit the nail on the head, Meg. I didn’t hate this one; I was just so disappointed by its average-ness. Coutts’s writing was beautiful – I loved it so much I’d look out for any of her future work for it – but the characters and multiple perspectives brought the whole thing down for me.

    Although I will disagree with you about the ending! I loved it, and I felt the open-ending fit for what the rest of the book was trying to tell. To me, whether Persephone hit Earth or not was irrelevant, because the characters had made peace anyway.

  5. Glad you enjoyed some parts of this one. I actually was no a fan of the writing at all and I DNFed it 20% in – but yeah the plot was all over the place and kind of weird like he bought a prostitute for his kid! O_O I also found all of the POVs to be too similar it was hard to remember which one you were currently on. oh wells, another great cover gone to waste >.<

  6. I’m probably not going to read this after all the negative ratings, so I just had to read that spoiler. I can’t believe the book would end like that. I would be reading for the same reason, and that would be so dissatisfying. I’m glad the prose was good, so many Coutts’ other books will be better. Nice honest review, Meg 😀

  7. This was one of the first books I immediately requested after discovering Netgalley. With all the asteroid stuff, who am I to resist that kind of story? Obviously, I was rejected. And I have never been so thankful. I was spared from reading this Beautiful but Nonsensical story. Btw, I can’t help laughing with your review title.

    And no, even if the book will be available here in our library, I’m not going to read it. Otherwise, I will be sitting down reading 384 pages of torture. It’s so hard for me to DNF a book so I’m not going to risk it. I trust you and Giselle’s opinion on this one, Meg.

    Well at least, you still managed to find one redeeming quality of this book. And is it safe to assume that you’d be giving this author a second chance? 😀

    Great review, Meg! Where are the GIFs?

  8. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t like this book as much as you thought you would. I don’t know what, but I was never drawn to it as much as others. It sounded good though, and it’s good that the writing was good. Too bad it didn’t have a real plot. Great review, Meg!

  9. I wasn’t a fan of this book either, though I did like the story, atleast the parts I read. The writing style was what made me dnf this book, I just couldn’t understand anything. The only good thing I can say is that the cover is very pretty.

  10. Yup, I agree with everything you’ve written here. I was soo bored by it. We didn’t learn anything new about the characters. And some of their situations was beyond absurd. (Not a fan of instalove and Caden’s whole POV which was a mess.)

    I really didn’t understand why the book had the asteroid in the first place since it served no actual purpose to the story. If you stripped it away, the story doesn’t change.

  11. Pingback: Warp Drive Sunday: Sept 15 – Sept 21 | Adrift on Vulcan

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