Review: Free to Fall by Lauren Miller

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Free to Fall by Lauren MillerFree to Fall by Lauren Miller
Published by HarperTeen on May 13, 2014
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 469
Source: Publisher
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three-half-stars

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Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision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.

What’s a girl to do when she gets an ARC for an event giveaway? Read it quickly before she has to give it up, of course! Harper may not have intended Free to Fall for me, but there’s no stopping me where book are concerned. When this showed up on my doorstep, doomed soon to depart once again, I did something rare and said “fuck the schedule.”  That was a good choice, because Free to Fall is very good, a solid science fiction novel set in the near future.

Free to Fall takes place 20 years in the future. The world’s not all that different. Apple has been replaced in cell phone dominance by a company called Gnosis, most famous for their Lux App. Lux does Siri one better. Lux doesn’t just look things up for you; Lux will tell you what to do. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a really indecisive person a lot of the time. Which movie should I watch? What book should I read? Should I go out to a bar with my friends or stay home and practice the hermit lifestyle? There have been times where I wished someone or something would make these choices for me, to spare me all the time spent mulling and fretting over choices. That is what Lux does.

Needless to say, Lux is really popular, and almost everyone has a Gnosis handheld. People live guided by Lux, and their lives are bettered for that. If you listen to Lux, you’ll maintain a healthy diet and make safe, non-destructive choices. Rory (short for Aurora) trusts Lux much more than herself, and worries about her best friend Beck, an artist, who refuses to use the app, preferring to follow The Doubt.

The Doubt is a little hard to quantify, something like intuition or conscience but possibly coming from something else. That point’s not really settled. In Rory’s day, this internal voice is called The Doubt and it’s been classified as a mental disorder. Listening to Lux and keeping the brain active should prevent The Doubt from speaking up. The foundation of Free to Fall deals with these two voices and the question of what they are and which to trust.

Free to Fall is very plot-heavy. There’s romance, a sweet if not for me swoony one, but Miller’s first focus is on the actual story. 470 pages went by pretty quickly, full of intellectual puzzles and tough ethical questions. It’s very nerd-fascinating. Nerdinating? Anyway, the characters are all brilliant. Rory, for example, recited the Fibonacci sequence to fall asleep. There were a couple of instances where Rory didn’t put together obvious things as quickly as I did, but they were mostly related to relationships with people. She rocks class.

The plot follows pretty predictable lines, but I think Miller did it very well. The characters seem more prepared than YA heroes and heroines often do. They plan, they think things through, and they put survival above kissing. Also, I love that Free to Fall isn’t anti-technology, but does recommend consideration of how much we let technology rule our lives.

The only drawback for me was that there wasn’t as much focus on characterization as I like in my books. Rory’s great and North is a fabulously unique love interest. Hershey, Rory’s roommate, has an amazing character arc. Otherwise, though, I think a lot of the characters get dropped as the plot picks up. I loved Rory’s friendship with Beck at the beginning, but he becomes a sidenote. Even Hershey sort of drops off the map. Though the romance doesn’t overwhelm the plot, the focus does narrow to just Rory and North, making me feel like other characters didn’t get fitting endings or were written off entirely.

Miller’s Free to Fall imagines a world where our phones can make choices for us, a frighteningly believable and tempting conception. It’s a surprisingly quick read for almost five hundred pages, and I definitely want more Lauren Miller novels.

Favorite Quote:

“The point is, there will always be competing voices,” I heard North say. “In your head and in the world. you can’t spend your life caught between them.”

I looked up at him. “You’re telling me to choose.”

“I know better than to tell you to do anything,” North said, reaching around me to shut down his computer. “But if you don’t decide, the world will choose for you.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

reading book omg Gilmore Girls

11 responses to “Review: Free to Fall by Lauren Miller”

  1. Isa says:

    Oh this sounds terribly interesting, it’s going on my TBR right away.
    Isa recently posted…[Isa] Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane NickersonMy Profile

  2. I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed this. I was suprised by how much I enjoyed Ms. Miller’s debut and have been excited to read this one. I love it when books don’t become too romance heavy and appreciate that she doesn’t try to preach about how all technology is bad. It’s a shame the characterization isn’t as in-depth as it could be and that secondary characters fall by the wayside, but I’m still really excited to dive into this one. Great review!
    Natalie @Natflix&Books recently posted…What I Thought Was True (Early Book Review)My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      The romance is cute, but avoids being the central focus or getting too cheesy. The story’s a bit more plot-based, but it was still a quick and fun read, even though I’m more into character. She dealt with the technology really well. 🙂

  3. Emma says:

    Ooh, I’m really excited for Free to Fall. Glad to hear you liked it for the most part. I’m definitely glad Miller didn’t do the stereotypical “technology is so bad” thing.
    Emma recently posted…Review: The Geography of You and Me + a GiveawayMy Profile

  4. Nerdilicious 😀

    The idea of having someone who decides everything for you is frightening and easy at the same time. Sometimes it would definitely come in handy, haha.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Let it go #1. Talker 25 & Tease.My Profile

  5. I *am* pretty picky about characterization, but man, the rest of this book sounds really good, and I don’t think I would have glanced at it without your review. Great job, Christina!
    Shae/Shelver @ Shae Has Left The Room recently posted…Review: THE WINNER’S CURSE by Marie RutkoskiMy Profile

  6. Angie F. says:

    Yay! I’m glad you liked this one! I’m happy that it doesn’t take the “technology is evil” route, which I kind of assumed it would. Although that didn’t keep me from being super duper excited about it!

    I cannot wait for my pre-order to get here! 😀
    Angie F. recently posted…Review: Earth Star (Earth Girl, #2) by Janet EdwardsMy Profile

  7. Meg says:

    I did something rare and said “fuck the schedule.” <—No lie, I just gasped out loud.

    This whole premise sounds incredibly interesting and I am far more intrigued by this book than I was 5 minutes ago (Parallel was not my cup of tea (extra appropriate metaphor as I don’t even like tea)).

    However, a thing I did like about Parallel is how it got into some of the multiverse theoretical science stuff (you know, the things they attach quantum to) and it sounds like this does a similar thing but with technology and whatnot. YAY FOR SPECULATIVE SCIENCE! MORE YAY FOR MORAL/SOCIETAL QUESTIONS RAISED BY SCIENTIFIC PROGRESS!

  8. Morgan says:

    This sounds fascinating and just plausible enough to hit home in a scary way. Plus it’s always great when a 470+ page book speeds by! Thanks for your review, I hadn’t heard of this before.

  9. “Should I go out to a bar with my friends or stay home and practice the hermit lifestyle?” Hahaha too often do I have this same battle. Sadly, the hermit lifestyle wins A LOT. Anyway, I am excited for this one! I think I will like the nerdiness and I really enjoyed Lauren Miller’s last book. Great review!
    Nicole @ The Quiet Concert recently posted…The Falconer by Elizabeth MayMy Profile

  10. Superb blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.

    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There
    are so many options out there that I’m totally confused ..
    Any suggestions? Thanks!
    the breakfast club xxx recently posted…the breakfast club xxxMy Profile

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