The plot of Colin McAdam's second novel, the thriller “Fall”, can be easily explained by analysing how it develops the title of the book in two main ways. Firstly, and very straight forwardly, the title is also the name of one of the characters: the entire story focuses on a girl called Fallon, nicknamed Fall, who attends a mostly male boarding school and, through her beauty, draws the attention of the young men there. The second way is that the title serves as a verb: two main male characters, Noel (the main narrator) and Julius, through their separate relationships with Fall, both end up falling psychologically, the former into psychosis and the latter into grief and anger.

As mentioned previously, Fall is one of the most beautiful girls at the boarding school St. Ebury, an institution attended almost exclusively by the children of the rich and powerful. She draws the attention of all the young men, including Noel (the son of a Canadian ambassador), a nerdy, broody social outcast with a lazy eye, and Julius (the son of the U.S. ambassador to Canada), a rich and charismatic but unintelligent new arrival, instantly popular and respected. Julius and Fall, respecting the pecking order of high school, immediately get together and are equally infatuated with one another. Noel, on the other hand, has no hope of getting close to Fall, but still longs for, and dreams of, her. In a twist of fate however, Noel is put in the same room as Julius, and his intense pursuit of the latter's girlfriend can continue. This mindless pursuit, counterbalanced by Julius’s loving perspective of Fall, becomes the centre piece of the novel and it continues until the culminating point of the story; Fall’s heavily implied death, at which point the second way that the plot develops the title completes itself. These elements clearly show how the plot of the entire book revolves around the beautiful student at St. Ebury, though other than her impact on others, her character remains completely undeveloped.

St. Ebury

During the course of Noel’s obsession with Fall, he gradually becomes more and more intent on achieving his goal of possessing her. He is driven to join Julius’ group of friends to get closer to Fall, tries hard to become closer friends with Julius to access his girlfriend, working out crazily to develop his muscles. When Julius is grounded for a prank that he and Noel committed, Noel becomes the messenger between Julius and his girlfriend, granting him his highest level of contact with the object of his obsession yet, driving him to act rashly, declaring himself to her. Noel is consumed by the idea of Fall and becomes a monster, eventually killing her when she does not accept his advance. His quest drives his already precarious mental state over the edge and he becomes an outright psychotic. Julius, however, has only the purest emotions for Fall and when she goes missing and is presumed dead, he becomes an emotional wreck at his loss. He also sees Noel for what he really is and is driven against him, his feeling of betrayal compounding his grief. By the end of the book, his life is in ruins and he too falls like Noel, though his fall is into loss, and not dementia. These elements show how the main characters all fall because of their love for Fall, showing how the plot develops the title as a verb.

Throughout the development of the narrative Colin McAdam keep the reader engaged by employing interesting literary techniques, making frequent switches in time and in points of view. We switch from Noel's side of the story to Julius's stream of consciousness take on things, in addition to the recount of a 30 year old Noel looking back on things, and sometimes the objective perspective of William, the U.S. ambassador's driver. The reader is further intrigued is the incisive perspective offered on the human situation as well as the psychological dissection of Noel, the novel's most complex character. Lastly, the dialogue, which varies from funny to powerfully poignant, is consistently enjoyable and perfectly phrased. Perhaps the single downside  of the narrative is the amount of attention devoted to the love between Julius and Fall, which seems both too cute and therefore tedious alongside the things going on inside the villain Noel's head.

The novel Fall focuses on the pitfalls of the human psyche and is convoluted in theme and subject. All in all Colin McAdam has intricately conjoined the plot, intertwining the narrative's central character, Fall, with the effects of her beauty: the fall that both Noel and Julius’ mentality and lives take into darkness.

Fall MrRooibos 2013-06-13 3.5 0 5


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