Foreboding with a unique writing style that will not suit the majority...
The premise of Fall is that of a deeply disturbing psychological thriller with an unbalanced sociopath at its core. On this front, McAdams success is almost excessively so; to the point where the bitter nuances peppered throughout the novel leave a dark, nauseating taste in the back of your mouth. Not, perhaps, the most desirable after effect of reading.
St Ebury’s is an elitist organisation. Proud, condescending and frivolous; it is a boarding school to somebody’s sons and future leaders. Julius is very much in his element, as the son of the US Ambassador for Canada; his appearance on the scene at St Ebury’s results in an awkward frenzy whereby his position as the most popular boy is quickly solidified by his coupling with the most attractive, most beautiful and most desired girl. It is sheer dumb luck then that Julius ends up with the room-mate none would envy. Noel is a pensive, introspective recluse with a defunct realisation of his own identity and an innate inability to form positive friendships. Their unfortunate pairing, thrusts Noel into a spiral of bewildering feelings, emotions and delusional beliefs; the ultimate recourse being to turn on the friend that feeds it.
Whilst the book is entitled Fall for the girlfriend of Julius and object of obsession for Noel; and indeed the catalyst that will eventually destroy both teenagers is Fall – the character herself is somewhat translucent. She is beautiful, she is intelligent, she is everything a teenage boy would summon in his head for sexual gratification; but there is nothing more. She is just an object of desire, an object that is owned, commanded, seduced... Of more consequence is the journey Noel has taken to get from A to B, and even that is not entirely satisfactory.
McAdams has attempted innovation through the dissembling of a teenage boy’s rambling thoughts; much of the novel is quite irritatingly dribbled across the pages in clipped phrases and monosyllabic noises punctuated with racing, irrelevant and uninteresting by-thoughts. The intention to accurately illustrate the nuances of a real teenager’s mind is somewhat baffling – no one I know wants to be reminded of that socially awkward, hormone fuelled, confusing and embarrassing period of their lives. All of which is moot, as I suspect most readers will become frustrated if not downright snappy each time we are ensconced in more of Julius’ inner “thoughts” and most might not make it to the end of this sorry tale – jaws sore and throbbing from constant clenching and gritting of teeth.
Fall is an observation, a voyeuristic tracking of two personalities that eclipse each other in their dissimilarities. Its grotesqueness is also its beauty. That does not make it an enjoyable book to read, but it does make it a rarity in literature and conceivably that is its intended function.
We interview C J Daugherty about Night School
- 10 January 2012