In "Free to Fall" Lauren Miller introduces readers to the ultimate app -- Lux. It will tell you what to eat, which outfit to wear, how to get places, and even which college to attend.
What is a bit frightening is knowing where Miller got the idea for her story. People walk around with their faces glued to their phones -- looking at news or Facebook, or checking email -- and rarely looking up or around at the view. In the novel, people walk around with their faces glued to their phones which are no longer phones. Serving as a phone is just one of the side benefits of the device -- the real reason to use it is because of the freedom it affords the user, the freedom of not having to make decisions.
Rory has worked hard to get accepted into Theden Academy, an uber-elite prep school that is free and ensures entry into the best colleges and companies. When Rory is accepted into Theden, she feels her dream has come true.
Jarringly, just before she leaves, her father gives her a gift from her mother, who died right after giving birth to Rory. It turns out that her mother had attended Theden but did not want Rory to be told unless she got in. Now, her father gives her the gift from her mother, a necklace and a note.
The mystery begins with the cryptic note and the necklace with the strange engraving. Rory loves Theden and meets a townie at the local coffee shop. Rory is unconventional -- from her selflessness to her open mind. While everyone has been told to not listen to the "Doubt," as our inner voice has been labeled, Rory does question that command.
When she finds out that her mother supposedly had "Akratic Personality Disorder," or the disease that listening to your voice leads to, Rory is determined to investigate further. Her investigations lead to an astonishing discovery. While the discovery is rather predictable, the story still is compelling.
Miller writes great action. Her first person narrative is right on and includes a bit of humor. Almost at the end of the novel, Rory opines, "How I wish we could just be two regular teenagers who didn't have a biotech conspiracy to take down."
Miller raises questions about how far society will go in the quest for the ultimate app. How do social media drive our decisions and our actions?
Why 5 stars? I couldn't put it down. So, while it's not great literature, it's compelling and does raise some valid societal questions. And it's a great read.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, HarperTeen, for review purposes.
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