November 3, 2013

Title: Falling Hard

Series: Roller Girls, Book One

Author: Megan Sparks

Published: July 1, 2013

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Pages: 255

Source: NetGalley

Summary from Goodreads: When Annie moves from London to a small town in the midwest, she struggles to fit in. She gets off to a bad start when she makes an enemy of her school’s queen bee, Kelsey. But she discovers a new passion, the exciting sport of roller derby, and makes friends with the cool and quirky girls on her team, the Liberty Belles. She also meets Jesse, the friendly boy who works at the roller rink, and Tyler, a cute, all-American sports star.

Average Goodreads Rating (as of 11/03/2013): 3.81

  • Christina thought this title was cute and laugh-out-loud funny. It goes on her second shelf.

**SPECIAL NOTE:** An eARC of this title was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.

♥ Initial Thoughts and Actual Rating: I’m giving this an actual rating of 3.5 stars! At fourteen years old, Annie is a little younger than the heroines I typically read about, though a vast majority of what I read is young adult. However, I never really seemed to get hung up over it because she and her dad were hilarious together. There were a few moments that read as cliché-ish, but overall, it was a cute, light read and just what I was in the mood to read.

The Lowdown: Annie’s parents are separating, and her dad has taken the opportunity to move back to his hometown in the States and open up a London-inspired café to live out his passion of cooking. When faced with the choice of staying with her overbearing mother or to leave her life in London, Annie quickly decides to make the trek across the ocean and go with the parent she’s always felt closer to, especially because her father has always been there to support her, now there’s a chance for her to return the favor.

Adjusting to life in the U.S. isn’t going as smoothly as Annie thought it would– everyone’s always commenting on how “cute” her accent is and making an enemy of the school’s head cheerleader and queen bee has a particular way of making things infinitely more difficult. But Annie does find friends, a few possible love interests, and a new passion in roller derby.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed getting to know Annie and her father. I liked that they were really close, as often times, you don’t feel a strong parental presence in young adult novels. They were always up to some kind of shenanigans and provided a constant source of giggles and laughter for me. I also appreciated that as a parent, he weighed in what he thought she should do, but basically let her be her own person and make her own decisions. As a collective group, I liked a majority of  the secondary characters as well, but I would have been grateful had I had a little more development from them, the roller girls in particular. I had a harder time connecting names with physical appearance and separating who was who when they were all thrown together in one scene. But like I said, on the surface though, all these side characters were likable and added a bit of spice to the novel. Well, all except for maybe the typical high school “mean girl” that I didn’t really care for all that much, but that’s just personal preference really.

As far as pacing, I found it to be a quick read that flowed easily from one scene to the next. However, I could have used a little more meat and depth on the plotting front. Even though it’s a series, I would have liked this novel to have a little more focus on particular elements, but found the attention of the novel to be spread thinly between Annie’s romantic interests, struggling to decide between cheerleading and roller derby, and missing her mom and balancing her home-life with her dad and school. I feel had a larger portion of the novel been concentrated on one of these aspects more heavily, I would have gotten a better sense of the characters and grasp of the story Annie was trying to tell.

Rec It? Sure, especially if you’re looking for a lighter read between heavier books. I finished Falling Hard in a matter of hours and laughed throughout most of it. I’ll probably continue with this series when I’m in need of a giggle or two and could use something fluffier after an angstier novel.

A very special thanks to Capstone Young Readers and NetGalley for providing me with an early copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

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