Release Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s
e-ARC Source: Netgalley
Jane Casey steps into the world of YA with How to Fall, a satisfying teen mystery where Jess Tennant is trying to solve the death of her cousin Freya. Jess is your average teenager: moody, witty, and sarcastic, but she’s also tough, as her mother describes her. She goes after what she wants, and what she wants in this novel is to find out if her cousin Freya committed suicide the summer before by jumping off of a cliff or if she was murdered.
Jess’s mother takes her away from London to her hometown of Port Sentinel. Right from the beginning, the setting of this novel is enticing. What better place to set a mysterious death than a seaside town? Immediately upon arrival, the townsfolk stare awkwardly at Jess. After going into town, Jess bumps into a girl who looks as if she’s seen a ghost. Confused, Jess brings up the situation with her mother who finally shows her a photo of Freya. Both the same age (their mothers are twin sisters), Jess is could also pass for Freya’s twin. Finally understanding the awkward glances, Jess seeks out the answers to Freya’s mysterious death. While Freya’s family, especially her young sister, remain undecided about her death, the townsfolk seem less decisive.
There are enough twists and turns in Casey’s debut YA novel to keep you turning the pages as fast as possible. She is able to do what many can’t: wish you could step inside the novel and investigate right alongside Jess. While you have the typical elements of a crime mystery, you also have the typical YA elements which make the book well-blended for a teen audience. On the one hand, you have a budding romance between Jess and Will, a close “friend” of Freya’s whose father dated Jess’s mother at one point, and on the other hand you have the rivalry with Natasha, a venomous girl who will remind you a lot of Regina George.
It’s refreshing to see a young teen girl display the intelligence to solve a mystery without being portrayed as a “nerd,” standing up for herself against the “mean” girls. The romance is not so overpowering that you forget about the mystery, and the overall feel of the book is impressively thrilling. I definitely look forward to a new mystery with Jess Tennant.