FEEL ME FALL
Written by James Morris
Published May 2017
My star rating: 4 stars
Emily Duran is the sole survivor of a plane crash that left her and her teenage friends stranded and alone in the jungles of the Amazon. Lost and losing hope, they struggle against the elements, and each other. With their familiar pecking order no longer in place, a new order emerges, filled with power struggles, betrayals, secrets and lies. Emily must explain why she’s the last left alive. But can she carry the burden of the past?
Discover the gripping new adventure novel that explores who we are when no one is watching, and how far we’ll go in order to survive. (Goodreads)
Random way to start a review but, just go with it. It’s mosquito season here. There’s lots of heat and rain – it’s basically the perfect storm for them. No matter what we do right now they’re everywhere. My jaw dropped so low and for so long at points in this book that a mosquito literally flew into my mouth….. This book was not at all what I expected but in the best way possible!!
Emily and the rest of her graduating class are travelling to South America for their end of year field trip. But disaster strikes, the plane crashes into the depths of the Amazon and only a small group of students survives. I went into this one expecting there to be a lot of teenage dramas, a break down in their social pecking order, and power struggles. Yes, there was all of that, but I wasn’t expecting the dark and gritty feel that this book had the whole way through, along with psychological thriller aspects and plot twists that made my heart race.
This book was told from three different time lines – before the trip, surviving in the Amazon, and after Emily was rescued. The flow of the story between these timelines was flawless and gave me a very clear picture of all the characters. We got the chance to see what their lives were like at school and how these events shaped them as people. Some characters were bullies, some endured personal struggles, some were good kids looking forward to their future – basically they’re very different from each other. Then all of a sudden they’re thrown into unfamiliar territory together, fighting to survive. They’re forced to deal with the raw emotions of their relationships, lies, and secrets, on top of the powerful desire to live. The third time line is Emily, now the lone survivor, who is forced to deal with the horrors they experienced in the jungle and the truths of why she’s alone. This was possibly the most emotional and terrifying aspect of it all! I can’t imagine having to go through what she did and then have to relive it. Tell the families why their child didn’t make it out alive. How much of that would you hide within yourself? How many secrets would you keep? Would you tell the truth if it makes you or a friend look like a monster? The format of these three time lines merging together to tell the story added so much more depth to the situation, allowing me as a reader to be more invested into the plot and the characters.
The writing was fantastic as well. The dialogue felt very natural and easy. The author was able to write the characters in such a way that no one really felt like a “side character”. This is told from Emily’s perspective, but the other survivors had such complete depth I felt like they were all equal in this story. You couldn’t help but feel connected to everyone and their journey, rooting for them at times and cursing them out at others. The descriptions were clear and vivid. It was easy to feel like you were a part of the scenery and walking through the jungle yourself. I had such a clear picture in my head the whole way through. But when a story has so many terrifying aspects to it, having a clear picture only makes your skin crawl more.
But it was the emotions and the general feel of the book that I felt was really well done. I felt anger, terror, panic, horror, determination and so much more. And, like I said above, the over all dark feeling I got from this book gave me goosebumps. It started off as a bit of an undertone that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Then when I got about 60% of the way through I hit a certain plot point and I just HAD to keep reading! I ended up staying up WAY too late to finish it! I’m glad I went into this one a little blindly – the plot twists threw me for a loop! The pacing had some highs and lows in the beginning but at that 60% mark it took off a lightning speed and didn’t slow down.
And the ending – OMG THE ENDING! It’s been a very long time since I’ve read a book that had my spine tingling! It was probably a bad idea to finish this one at 1am because my mind spun for the longest time thinking about that ending!!
My biggest downfall with this book was that there was a student teacher relationship. Not a spoiler as I’m not giving details and this happens very early on in the book. This isn’t an overly creepy relationship as the student is 17 and the teacher is in his early 20’s. There was only a few years difference between the two so it’s not overly weird, but this is a personal issue that I just couldn’t get over.
All in all, this book was a pleasant surprise. It’s not like your normal survival reality TV show. It’s dark, dirty, scary and horrible. The plot twists had my skin tingling and the writing pushed me to read faster and faster. I think this book may have pushed me to read more thrillers!! I wish that I could say a little more about this but I wouldn’t want to spoil a single thing. It’s best to go into this one a little blindly – it will knock you over more that way! This one is a seriously fantastic read that I would recommend to any YA and thriller lovers!
I received a copy for review from the author. This in NO WAY effects my thoughts and opinions. James contacted me at the beginning of the month wanting to know if I was interested in this book. I’ve declined every author to date for a very specific reason – I don’t want to say anything bad about their book. Sound weird? Maybe. But it seems so direct and personal – I would feel awful if they sent it to me and I didn’t like it. But as soon as I read the synopsis for this I was HOOKED!
AUTHOR Q & A
What inspired you to write?
I’m not sure people are inspired… they are who they are, you know? An athlete seems to always know she’s an athlete; an actor always knows he wants to be on stage. I always knew I liked stories, and reading, and playing with action figures and being imaginative. I wasn’t good at sports; I wasn’t good at most things. But I knew stories. It’s strange, because no one ever tells you: you can grow up to be a writer. So if anything, I wasn’t encouraged. (And probably for good reason; writing is a terrible career in terms of financial stability.) But once I knew about writing, then I devoured books!
Being a screenwriter, do you find that the cross over to novels was easier or more challenging?
The cross over is both harder, and a bit easier. Easier because structure is structure. You’ve got to tell a good story. Screenwriting taught me structure. But prose writing is a whole different beast. I’ve got to create the mood with words, where in screenwriting actors, lighting, sets, props, editing, and music do all that. It’s much more challenging to create that experience with just words. I’m not a prose king by any means, but I do think I’m getting better.
What aspect of your life helped you become a better writer?
Discipline and dedication made me a better writer; just to keep doing it in the face of rejection, disappointment and dejection. I mean, really; writing can be lonely business. But if you keep doing it, and staying open to notes, you can’t help but get better. And it’s one of those things that I think life experience helps. I am such a better writer now that I would’ve been many years ago, only because I’ve experienced more of the ups-and-downs of life that I hadn’t back then.
What is the most difficult part of the writing process for you?
The most difficult part is the idea phase, and really zeroing in on an idea that is both fresh and interesting, as well as one that can sustain the length of a book. And it also has to be an idea that interests me over the long haul of outlining, writing, re-writing and re-writing again. It’s a marathon, and you don’t want to find yourself bored by your own idea a few months into a project.
Do you do much research when writing? If so, do you research before you begin writing or during?
I do research, if it’s appropriate. For Feel Me Fall, I did a bit of research, certainly, to bring the Amazon to life. I’ll generally research beforehand, and then along the way while writing if I’m missing something that would lend authenticity. I find that if I research too long, it means that I’m procrastinating, and there comes a point where I’ve got to take off the research hat and just leap into writing.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
I loved Ray Bradbury as a kid. He really opened my eyes to the power of words, and who they can be transformational. Today, I read as much as I can. I don’t think I have a current favourite today – there are far too many good books out there!
What was the main source of inspiration when writing Feel Me Fall?
I can’t really answer this question without giving away some of the plot; suffice it to say, I was curious what people will do to survive.
Your main character is a girl. Did you find it difficult to write from the point of view of the opposite sex?
I love this question. I have been waiting for someone to ask me this! I find it really interesting; my wife writes scripts, as well, and she always writes her lead character as a man. And I’m just the opposite. I’ve always tended to write about women. And I think it has to do with the fact that I know men; there’s not a mystery to explore with a male character (in general that is). And writing women is my way of exploring, of considering what it would be like to be someone not me. It’s more of a challenge for me. And my wife feels the same about why she writes for men. I might add, I just think women are more layered emotionally (in general) than men. When I think of a man, they are defined by three things: ego, sex, or power. It’s one of those three. Always. And that might be true for women, too, but I think there are shades of colour within those things.
Do you read reviews of your own books? How do you deal with both the positive and negative? And how do readers reviews effect your writing in the future?
I did read reviews for my other books, and of course good ones elated me and bad ones bummed me out. And then I thought: how can the same book elicit such different responses? Which one is true? And of course, both are true. Someone enjoyed it, while someone else didn’t. And then I realized the reviews – both good and bad – aren’t really about the book. The reflect the person who read and reviewed it. (I admit it’s more fun to read a positive review than a negative one!) As for readers effecting my writing: I like to think I’m open to notes when I write – anything to make it better. But by the time the book is done, and being read, it’s too late to change. But if enough people clamoured over something “bad” in my book, I would have to give that issue thought in my next project.
Are you working on any new projects currently?
I am. I’ve got a young adult horror novel on deck. We’ll see how that goes!
James Morris is a former television writer who now works in digital media. When not writing, you can find him scoping out the latest sushi spot, watching ‘House Hunters Renovation’, or trying new recipes in the kitchen. He lives with his wife and dog in Los Angeles.
Until next time, happy reading!