Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang: my new favourite book of 2014

Title:falling into place Falling Into Place

Author: Amy Zhang

Genre: YA contemporary

Length: 304 pages

Published by: HarperTeen Australia

Source: received for review (ONE MILLION THANK YOUS, HARPER)


On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.



How…where do I start…

Okay, so let’s start with the first sentence. That seems like an excellent place.

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.


Okay fine, I’ll stop with the caps. Okay. Okay. I’m trying to gather my thoughts into a coherent bundle. But you see, my thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations…

Sometimes, when you start reading a book, you just KNOW. You just know that you’re going to love it, because we readers have a Rad-Read-Radar which tells us these things. My Rad-Read-Radar was positively BUZZING when I began reading Falling Into Place. I knew I was going to love it. I let myself be carried away by Amy Zhang’s writing.

So let’s make a list of why this book was incredibly awesome.

1) The writing.

The writing. Was. Incaristotle and danteredible. And Amy Zhang is a young’un. I know this because teen writers have this little circle of awesomeness, and you get to know who lots of the teen writers in this circle. Some teen writers will not get published as teens, because everyone’s journey is different, but Amy Zhang isn’t just good for a TEEN writer – she’s amazing for ANY WRITER EVER. Like…okay, so, my favourite book this year is Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. It is incredible. And, surprise surprise, it is also contemporary YA (can anyone see a pattern here?).

They both have utterly beautiful writing. They have quotes that I want to carry around with me and read from time to time. These two are books that I want to read EVERY SINGLE WORD OF, because I don’t want to miss a single thing.

So these are my two favourite books of this year so far. And the incredible writing is a big part of that.



2) The format.

Comparisons to Gayle Forman’s If I Stay are actually justified in this case, because there ARE a lot of similarities. Like If I Stay, Falling Into Place progresses in a non-linear fashion, going back and forth between different points in time. Which could have made it disjointed. But it DIDN’T. It just made it even better. I also loved how it was from the perspectives of lots of people – Liz’s friends and family.

Going into this book, I already knew who the narrator was (because when the book deal was announced, it was included in the pitch). But when you figure it out, it adds another layer of depth to the book.


3) The science-y references.

I don’t understand science. But when you put it in the context of a story, I can’t NOT understand it. The laws of motion are continually referenced throughout the novel, and I love how they’re incorporated into it.


4) Liz

I thought a lot about Liz when I was reading this book. She’s an incredible complex character, and I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to love or hate her. So I…love-hated her. I hated that she basically ruined the lives of many different people. I loved that she was depicted so complexly. Normally I would HATE a character like Liz, and I would probably hate the book as well, but Amy Zhang (through some sort of voo-doo, I’m convinced) made me more…thoughtful.


5) The ending (no spoilers, I promise)

So, this book is quite sad. And I mean QUITE sad. But I loved the ending. Seriously. It surprised me. It is one of my favourite endings ever.

So those are five reasons. Let me just finish up.

This book is a million times better than If I Stay.

It’s sad. It’s beautiful. It’s complex. It should be the next book you read.

I finished reading it in English class (what? It’s a book, it’s totally allowed…) and immediately wanted to read it again. THAT’S HOW GOOD IT IS.


You need to read this book.


Rating: 5/5 Wonderkitties


Oh, and tell me: do you also have a Rad-Read-Radar?

40 thoughts on “Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang: my new favourite book of 2014

  1. I’ve been eyeing this book and haven’t been quite sure if I should read it. I think you may have convinced me though. I enjoy science, but even more when it’s thrown into fiction.
    As for finishing the book in English class – I LOL’ed. I ALWAYS used to read books in all my classes. I think my teachers just turned a blind eye in the end 😛

  2. YAY I’M GLAD YOU LIKED IT! (Lists are the only way to review books sometimes.) I’m just kind of seriously happy about it because I’ve read quite a few teen writers this year and their books have been woeful. But, like you said, this is just masterful writing. For ANY writer!! Let alone a teen! OMG WHAT WIZARDRY DOES SHE POSESS?!! I was pretty annoyed at Liz, but I think she was realistic. My only disappointment (kind of the reason it lost a star for me) was that the whole narrator-being-the-imaginary-friend didn’t really have any point to the story. You know? It could’ve been HUGE but then I guess it would’ve been more paranormal…still! I expected the imaginary friend to do something, knock over a vase at least? Hehe.

    • Lists are so great for organising thoughts 😛 I’m happy too, because you’re right, some books by teen authors are…not great. But that’s not BECAUSE they’re teens, so it’s great to see a book that’s absolutely amazing even compared to all the other Adult Authors. You make a good point about the imaginary friend. I guess it was just the style of narration, but it would have been nice if it had some relevance… 😛

  3. You should really review the series of “The Mother Daughter Book Club” by heather vogel frederick. its a 6 book series and the author is currently working on a 7th. the first and second book is more for young readers like 12-13 but the other books have a little more drama, romance kinda thing but not at a super level! they are really simple books but still really great! you should check them out, sometimes you need a break from books about suicide, am i right? 😉 Let me know what you think!

    -Daisy Blogger

    • I’ve heard about those actually! I don’t know whether I’d be able to find copies of them, though, that’s the problem – especially as there’s already six! But yes, sometimes I do need a break from the heavy topics, so when that happens I’ll give those a go 🙂

  4. Holy crap, I LOVE the way you write reviews! They’re so funny and entertaining! I’m also glad that you liked this one! I’m starting it tomorrow and I was really nervous because the reviews from friends are really mixed but I think I may love it because of your review!

  5. I’ve got this on my shelf at the moment and I can’t wait to start it really soon – especially after reading this wonderful review! Complex characters, awesome writing style and an interesting structure are all big ticks for me 🙂 I agree, sometimes when you start reading something, even from the beginning you can just *tell* it’s going to be good. which is one of the best feelings ever! (and hopefully the book in question continues to live up to that). Admittedly, I still need to read ‘Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe’ – but I swear it is going onto the ‘I need to read this ASAP’ TBR!

    • Yay! I hope you like it 😀 eeeeeeveryone must read it. I could tell right from the first sentence that it was going to be good. It’s just the writing style I absolutely love, which helps. I’m a sucker for beautiful writing. Okay, you NEED to read Aristotle and Dante – it has beautiful writing like this. And amazing dialogue. And…okay, I feel like re-reading it now 😛

  6. Absolutely, fantastic review, Em! I don’t have a lot to say, as I loved this almost as much as you – and that ending was certainly wonderful – I didn’t expect it at all!

  7. EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS BOOK. I think that was my first thought I finished the book… and yes, I loved that ending. It was perfect. ❤ Usually with standalones I always fell so unsatisfied, but this book was just so so so great. Definitely one of the best contemporaries (I don't know WHY but I can never spell that word first try…) I've read this year, and though it's not usually my favourite genre, it was incredible. 🙂

    • I AGREE. It’s like that with all the books I love 😛 “YOU MUST READ IT.” I’ve noticed how you don’t seem to like contemporaries as much. Considering how many of them I read (since it’s my favourite genre) being one of my favourites EVER is quite an accomplishment 😛

  8. I think I just might have a rad-reader-radar. Sometimes I start reading books and I’m like “yeah, there’s some pretty great storytelling here,” and even when I start noticing flaws and stuff in the writing, I still feel like defending the book. Actually, I know loads of people didn’t like The Bone Season, but I felt quite a connection with the book, even if I wouldn’t have given it 5 stars.

      • It’s the same with me! I get defensive of books as well, and even if I can objectively see flaws with it, I can still end up loving a story. Like The Cinderella Moment, for example. I did see lots of negative reviews of The Bone Season, lol 😛

      • I think, as writers, we get to that point where we can’t NOT notice the problems with a story if they’re there, but then we are also able to appreciate the hard work writers put into their stories.
        Yeah, TBS is one of those marmite stories. It’s not my favourite book, and I’m not desperate to read on when book 2 comes out, but I thought it was written pretty well.

  9. I just finished reading this the other day and am super impressed to hear that it’s a teen writer – because the writing is super fantastic! I really didn’t like Liz though, she did so many mean things and fair enough she was broken and damaged but I can’t really sympathise with characters like that. It was a very emotional and addictive read.

  10. I requested this book but, sadly, didn’t get approved. I will probably end up buying it now, though! It look great, and I’ve read so many rave reviews. Great review!

  11. I need to get my hands on this book right now. I heard that it was good, and your another person to confirm it. Great review, you’ve made me want this book NOW, though in reality I won’t be able to read it before November because I’m on a book buying ban until then. But come November I’ll get it. And yes, I do have a Rad-Read-Radar (say that ten times!)

    • Yes, you totally do. My opinions are The Word. I’m joking, obviously, but SO many people have loved this book, so it’s not just my ramblings 🙂 curse that book-buying ban! I’m sure in November you’ll have a huge list of books you want to buy, lol.

      • I really do need to be on this book buying ban because I am sick of having so many books on my shelf I haven’t read. It is killing me, but I am distracting myself by reading 🙂 And the list is huge. I have a multiple paged list of books I want in a notebook. I did a master list of books I want from that list and still had 115 books on it! Crazy! I’m a collector of books, so I always buy (or win or get review copies) the books I want to read, which means the list piles up when I don’t have money.
        The problems of a book addict *sigh*

  12. I do have a Rad-Read-Radar! It’s really awesome, and almost always shapes my opinion of the book I’m reading (cos of course it’s a rad read!)! Cool review…Falling into Place sounds so good and I JUST REALLY NEED TO GET MY HANDS ON IT OKAY?

    The ending had better be good (and sad)…I mean we know the ending (Liz offs herself) but I mean the ending ending…I’m looking forward to this!

  13. This review was so much fun to read, and I’m now totally convinced that I must check out Falling Into Place! Everything, from the fleshed-out characters to the gorgeous writing, has me super excited for it. Lovely review!

  14. Pingback: Stacking the Shelves (HEIR OF FIRE!!), Loony Blurbs and Re-organising my Bookshelves | The Loony Teen Writer

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