Review: Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar

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: Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies by Lindsay RibarRocks Fall, Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar
Published by Kathy Dawson on June 7, 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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four-stars

Twin Peaks meets Stars Hollow in this paranormal suspense novel about a boy who can reach inside people and steal their innermost things—fears, memories, scars, even love—and his family's secret ritual that for centuries has kept the cliff above their small town from collapsing.

Aspen Quick has never really worried about how he's affecting people when he steals from them. But this summer he'll discover just how strong the Quick family magic is—and how far they'll go to keep their secrets safe.

With a smart, arrogant protagonist, a sinister family tradition, and an ending you won't see coming, this is a fast-paced, twisty story about power, addiction, and deciding what kind of person you want to be, in a family that has the ability to control everything you are.

Though I loved Lindsay Ribar’s first two books and I think Lindsay herself is the coolest, I was a little bit nervous about Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies. I mean, it has the best title ever, but it didn’t really sound like a shippy book and it’s a dude MC. I wanted to love it, and I was afraid that it would disappoint me. But I needn’t have worried because Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies is as fantastic as its title.

Going in, I didn’t really have any expectations of what the book would be like, and I was totally blown away by it. I haven’t ever seen Twin Peaks and tbh I don’t agree with that Stars Hollow comparison, but the magic in this book is so freaking cool. The Quick family protects the town of Three Peaks by “reaching” into people and taking little things from them, like their fear of snakes or competitiveness.

Since he was little, Aspen has helped out with the ritual that helps keep the cliff from falling and crushing the town. He loves taking part, and he loves his power. He always follows the rules too: no taking from the family. Of course, lots of people aren’t family, and Aspen feels no compunction taking things from them.

Aspen falls into that realm of “unlikable” characters. He does a lot of really bad stuff in this book, often knowingly. He manipulates his friends emotions and essentially uses his power to get the girl of his dreams to go out with him. It’s fucked up and there are major consent issues. Aspen isn’t a hero of his own story; he’s majorly flawed and Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies is his character arc to maybe do better.

What I find so impressive about Rocks Fall is that, despite all the horrible things Aspen does, I actually still found him surprisingly sympathetic. Yes, I hate the things he’s doing and he makes some choices that are heartbreaking (View Spoiler »). His choices though clearly tie back into how he was raised, and, as he’s confronted by the truth of his actions, he’s learning. Slowly, at first, but he is growing. He’s overcoming a lifetime of being taught that there was nothing wrong with what he was doing, and I was rooting for him to come out the end of the person a better person.

Ribar pulls this off so well, I think, partly due to the inclusion of flashbacks in every chapter. There’s always a bit of the current timeline, and then a past moment that Aspen’s now remembering in a slightly different light due to recent events. They’re generally very short, and they highlight his character very strongly while enhancing rather than disturbing the flow of the story.

Unshockingly, Leah was my favorite character of the novel, and I thought she made a really great counterpoint to Aspen. For one thing, she calls him out on all of his bullshit. Though actually Brandy also calls him out on his bullshit when she gets the chance; I like that he gets told by the women in his life. Leah also highlights that not having magic doesn’t mean one isn’t capable of doing grievous harm. Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies takes an interesting look at the harm we can do to one another, even when we’re trying to help.

The ending surprised me, actually. I thought I knew where the book was heading, but it didn’t really go where I expected. In the end, it’s much more a book about family, responsibility, and owning your choices than it is about romance. I’d love to know more about where Aspen ends up after the ending, but there’s also something freeing in where things close. He’s got the whole world open now, and he can choose who to be.

Where the story got a bit weaker for me was in the secondary characters. I really felt Aspen’s struggle, and I very much related to Leah. Brandy and Theo, though, I never cared about. Nor was I particularly interested in Aunt Holly. For me, it was mostly just about Aspen. Considering that it’s all about him, I guess that’s a good thing, but I’d like to have had a bit more connection with everyone else as well.

Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies captivated me from cover to cover. If you’re into awesome magical fiction, you should read this. Also, check out The Art of Wishing and The Fourth Wish while you’re are it.

Favorite Quote:

“Boy appeal,” she echoed flatly. “When you say that, do you mean books written by men? About men? With no women in them except one-dimensional characters who only exist because the men need love interests? Is that what you mean?”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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2 responses to “Review: Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar”

  1. Leah says:

    I was very surprised by this book as well. I was constantly uncomfortable while reading it, but it was so well done that I had to see how it all ended.

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