What begins as a little itch here, a nagging cough there turns into the biggest outbreak a small Canadian East Coast island has ever seen. Kaelyn and her family moved back to their hometown island after a brief stint in Toronto only to find that things have changed since their absence. When the townspeople start falling ill and dying, the government impose a quarantine on the island forcing those that are ill and those that are surviving to continue existing together. It’s survival of the fittest, where everyone’s fight or flight instincts are put to the test in hopes they can last long enough for a cure to be found.
Wow. I picked this up the day before Megan Crewe’s book launch in Toronto, and started reading it on the subway ride there. I almost wish it took longer to get there because I didn’t want to stop reading it. This novel captivates you right from the get-go. I enjoy a good story about ghosts or monsters, but what makes The Way We Fall absolutely terrifying is the fact that it’s about a very real and plausible enemy: a biological virus outbreak.
Written in the style of journal entries from Kaelyn to a former friend, the narrative style suits the storytelling nicely. As the reader, you feel like you’ve stumbled across a girl’s diary of unsent letters documenting the outbreak on the island. Broken into three parts (Symptoms / Quarantine / Mortality), the chapters and pacing of the story flow seamlessly from one moment to the next.
The true nature of people faced with that dire and seemingly-helpless situation is explored in all aspects, from those that have survivor’s guilt to those wanting to help to those who take advantage of the situation and wreak havoc. It’s not only the disease that seems to be infectious, but the paranoia among everyone that catches just as quickly.
The Way We Fall encapsulates so many things that I enjoy in a book: mystery, thriller, great character dynamics and set in Canada (partially in Toronto, no less!) What’s not to love?
The Way We Fall is currently available in stores.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (5/5 stars)
Keep reading for my Q&A with Megan Crewe!
“mINTERVIEW” (aka mini interview)
I asked Megan if I could conduct a “mini interview” with her, on a few of the questions I had while reading the book – and she graciously agreed!
1. In the book, when Kaelyn first discovers a dead bird, it reminded me a lot about the news story from January 2011 where thousands of birds and fish were dying. Did that have any influence into the inspiration for The Way We Fall?
The Way We Fall was actually written and finished revisions before January 2011 (everything in publishing is done well in advance!), but I was influenced by other concerns about birds. When people were worried about bird flu, I remember the public being advised to stay away if they came across a dead bird. I thought it made a nice creepy hint that something might not be quite right on the island.
2. I understand that the island is a made-up island in the Maritimes. Why were you drawn to Nova Scotia for the setting of your book vs, say, the West coast? (LOVE that it’s set in Canada, by the way. There’s not enough books that are!)
I picked east coast over west coast simply because I’m more familiar with the east coast. I hadn’t been to Nova Scotia when I wrote the initial drafts of The Way We Fall (I did take a trip there after the book sold, to make sure I was getting my details right), but I had visited Cape Cod and the coast of South Carolina, whereas I’ve never made it to the west coast at all. So when I decided the story was going to be set on an island, my mind immediately went to the east coast–I had a sense of the atmosphere and environment already. And it was important to me to set it in Canada, because I agree not enough books are, and I figured if Canadian authors like me weren’t going to write stories set here, how could I expect anyone else to? 🙂
3. You mentioned at the launch that there is a sequel. Are you at liberty to say if it follows the same group of characters or is it the virus that’s the connecting factor?
Kaelyn is the main character of all three books in the trilogy, and most of the major characters who are still alive at the end of The Way We Fall continue to play an important role in the second book (The Lives We Lost). It’s basically a continuing story–book 2 takes place immediately after the end of book 1, and book 3 immediately after the end of book 2. I’ve shared a few more details about book 2 here on my blog.