I love the islands off the Canadian Pacific Coast, so I had to get an ARC of The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe when I saw that it takes place on a small Canadian island. I had all kinds of visions about what this novel might be about, none of which came close to the actual story. LOL That’s what I get for having such an overactive imagination. Do you like medical thrillers?
Sixteen-year-old Kaelyn lives on a small Canadian island. This story is told through her journal entries. She’d much rather be watching birds or other wild animals than hanging out with other people but she’s making an effort to change that and become more outgoing.
Leo, who used to be Kaelyn’s best friend, just left on the ferry to attend a special performing arts school in New York City. In her heart, he’s still her best friend but something happened this summer and they haven’t been speaking to each other. She wishes she’d said good-bye before he left and made things right between them. She’s going to miss him like crazy even though she’s really glad he’s getting to fulfill his dream. When he comes back for school break, she’ll definitely let him know how sorry she is that she acted like such a brat.
“Starting tomorrow…I’m going to use this notebook as a journal, to keep me on track and to practice saying everything I need to say to you, so the first time you come back to see your parents, for Thanksgiving or Christmas, I’ll be able to apologize to your face and see if we can still be friends.”
And then disaster strikes. It’s not a quick disaster like an earthquake or a tornado. It doesn’t even look like a disaster at first. A few people get itchy and start to run a fever, like a really awful flu. Kaelyn’s dad is seeing them come into the hospital ER and says he thinks it’s a virus. But it’s not like any virus anyone’s ever seen, and it turns out to be deadly.
“It starts with an itch you just can’t shake. Then comes a fever and a tickle in your throat. A few days later, you’ll be blabbing your secrets and chatting with strangers like they’re old friends. Three more, and the paranoid hallucinations kick in. And then you’re dead.”
As more and more cases begin showing up at the hospital and the doctors realize they have no clue what they’re dealing with, Kaelyn’s dad insists their family stay away from other people until they know more about what they’re dealing with. None of them takes it that seriously at first, thinking he’s just being overly cautious but then the death toll starts to rise. Gradually Kaelyn’s friends, their neighbors, her friends’ parents – people are dying all around her and the doctors still don’t have a way to stop it.
“Six more people have died. The Public Health officers are barring visitors and all patients who aren’t in critical condition from the hospital unless they’re showing symptoms of the mystery virus. Dad says the building’s almost at capacity as it is. And one of the doctors has come down with the disease now.”
Pretty soon, the whole island becomes quarantined, with patrol boats sitting off shore to ensure no one leaves. Although they’ve been told the government will deliver food and medical supplies to keep them going, there are big problems with those deliveries. That causes real fear about whether anyone who manages to stay healthy can survive long enough for the quarantine to be lifted. The whole island is terrified about what will happen to them. It’s as if they’ve been abandoned to die.
“Other voices were babbling in the background, but I couldn’t make out any of them. ‘Dad…’ I started.
Then he said, quickly and quietly, ‘I don’t know the details yet, and everyone here is begging to use the phone, so this is all I can say right now. The government’s decided the area’s too high risk. They’re closing off the island.’”
The hospital is completely overwhelmed with the sick, the dying and the dead. Soon whole blocks of houses sit empty and looters begin raiding stores. There are also people on the island who choose to help others instead of hoarding and becoming lawless. Still it’s scary that there’s no one to stop the lawlessness. And people can’t really band together in a protective group because the virus spreads so quickly. You can’t know who’s carrying it until it’s too late.
“’Why didn’t you want to talk to Josie?’ Meredith asked as we roared around the corner. ‘She’s really nice. She babysits me sometimes.’
‘She was sick,’ I said. ‘If you see someone who seems like they have a cold, or like they’re really itchy, you have to get away from them fast. Okay?’
‘Oh,’ she said, so quietly I could hardly hear her.
‘We’re fine,’ Drew said, ‘Kaelyn did the right thing. We got out of there, and we’re okay now.’”
And then the virus strikes Kaelyn’s family. Up until this point, they’ve been incredibly lucky but their luck has run out. Will anyone be spared this horrible plague or will Kaelyn’s journal be the only record of what happened?
The Way We Fall may be a YA novel but it’s every bit as scary as any medical thriller I’ve read. Imagine being trapped on an island with a deadly virus running rampant that no one can cure, being abandoned there to die or survive with no way to escape. Imagine losing the people you’ve known all your life and who you love, and never knowing if you will be next.
This novel is very well written and well researched. All of the characters are very well developed, including many of my favorites I haven’t told you about like Tess, Meredith, Gav, and Kaelyn’s family members. The device of using Kaelyn’s journal is an excellent one because it discloses to us her feelings in an effortless way. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about reading a novel written in journal form but it worked very well in this instance. I quickly forgot it was written that way because I became so involved with the people and the ordeal they were experiencing.
The Way We Fall was another one that kept me up at night. I literally couldn’t put it down once I realized what was happening. The suspense of not knowing what will happen next or who, if anyone, will survive, coupled with quickly coming to care about many of the people in the novel, meant I had to finish it asap! This is one hell of a roller coaster ride, and it keeps you guessing right up to the end. So take it from me, if you like medical thrillers then you’re going to want to read this one no matter what age you are.
The Way We Fall was released on January 24, 2012, so it should be available at your favorite bookseller below. Just click the button to go there to get it.
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