by David Maine
Fiction. 244 pp.
St. Martin's. 2005.
I'm not sure where I came across a review for this book, and looking through my e-mail folders, I apparently didn't save the review, but I remember getting this book because I thought the premise was intriguing. Fallen is the story of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel. What I thought would be interesting would be the way the author might put flesh on that story.
It is an engaging bit of storytelling. The main character are all given personalities, and rather distinct ones at that. Adam is wishy-washy and must be compelled to action. Eve is assertive, but she is also the evil one. (I get the impression that the author holds a slight Catholic theological underpinning to how he perceives the characters.) Abel is self-righteous, bossy, and a bit lazy. Cain is industrious and headstrong and prideful. It is these personality traits that lead to the first family's ultimate dysfunction. Though I can't say that I wholly agree with the author's speculation, I do find it to be a compelling portrayal.
But perhaps what I liked most about the book was its unique format. I am a sucker for unusual formats such as what you would find in Girl in Hyacinth Blue and Nothing But the Truth. Fallen takes an approach that is similar to that in Hyacinth Blue in that you start at the end and work back to the beginning, though Fallen does it much better. You start with chapter 40 and work back to chapter 1. Very cool. I like how you see the effects before you see the causes. I found that it compelled me forward as I was anxious to see what things in the characters' pasts led to their current actions.
Another bit that I liked about the format is that the book is told in four parts, giving each of the main characters their own section to see the story unfold through their eyes. This was most effective at the transition from Cain to Abel as you watch the murder first through Cain's eyes and then through Abel's.
It's a good book. At times, it gets a bit crass and gritty, but I guess that's to be expected when working through themes of murder and passion and jealousy and, to some extent, irrationality. Oh, and the author photo is downright scary.