From the BLURB:
Chloe King was a normal sixteen-year-old girl.
She did her homework and got good grades, but she wasn't afraid to ditch class sometimes to hang out with her best friends. She slept at home, but otherwise avoided all human contact with her mom. The usual stuff.
Then she fell from San Francisco's highest tower, and her life changed. For starters, she died. And then, she woke up.
Now Chloe's life is anything but normal: Suddenly guys are prowling around her, she's growing claws, and someone's trying to kill her.
Luckily for Chloe, she still has eight lives to go.
Chloe King is a normal sixteen-year-old girl. She may have had extraordinary beginnings – as a Soviet baby adopted by her parents to come and live in San Francisco . . . but since that extraordinary start, Chloe has been thoroughly normal. She has her two best friends – Amy and Paul. She fights with her mum all the time. And she resents her father for walking out twelve years ago . . . she doesn’t understand trig and she’s desperate to work the cash register at the clothing store where she works. Totally normal.
And then Chloe fell from Coit Tower. A 210-foot drop and Chloe walked away . . . without a scratch.
Now Chloe’s life is venturing into the utterly bizarre. Suddenly she has super speed and cat-like abilities – including retractable claws! Chloe’s previously barren love life is also suddenly exploding – there’s the cute guy, Brian, who she meets at work, not to mention her super-sexy ex-Soviet classmate called Alyec.
Oh, and she’s receiving crazy notes from somebody claiming to be from ‘The Order of the Tenth Blade’. . . not to mention a crazy, knife-wielding stalker is on her trail.
Suddenly, Chloe’s life is about as far from normal as you can get.
‘The Fallen’ is the first book in Celia Thomson’s ‘The Nine Lives of Chloe King’ young adult supernatural series.
‘Fallen’ was published back in 2004, but ‘Nine Lives’ caught my attention because of its recent TV adaptation on ABC family. I watched the first two episodes and was thoroughly impressed – even more so when I discovered it was based on a YA book series. I went into ‘Fallen’ with lofty expectations, considering how much I've been enjoying the supernaturally tween-cool show. So I was somewhat disappointed/gobsmacked to discover that ‘The Nine Lives of Chloe King’ is actually one of those rare bookish phenomena where the adaptation is better than the novel.
The problem I had with ‘The Fallen’ was a serious lack of action. Chloe falls from Coit Tower very early on in the book – and it’s a wonderfully gory and dramatic scene that suckers you right into the story. But after that death-defying feat, Chloe shows little reaction to the changes in her. She defeats a violent bum on the street, starts leaping tall buildings and growing claws . . . but she’s really more interested in the developing romance between her two besties, Paul and Amy, and what that means for her as their third wheel.
I was quite dismayed to read so much teen melodrama in this book, which is amped-up when Chloe starts seeing two guys at the same time – sweet but mysterious Bryan, and the sexy-confident Alyec. The supernatural/fantasy element (which is so prevalent in the TV series) really takes a back-seat to Chloe’s changing friendship and romantic dramas. Much to my chagrin.
It’s not that the relationships and romances weren’t interesting. And I was pleasantly surprised to read that Thomson’s novel is more hard-edged than the strictly-PG ABC family drama. The teenagers in ‘Fallen’ swear, and Chloe’s libido is kicking in, along with all her other unique new abilities. There is potential for a complicated love triangle between Chloe, Brian and Alyec. So I did like the romance . . . but it felt like the supernatural aspect of the book was an afterthought for Thomson, sloppily explored in the last few pages.
I’m actually really impressed by the way ABC’s adaptation has jumped ahead in the book series – and made the action/drama more of a focus . . . while teasingly playing with Chloe’s romance. I was yearning for more action and insight into Chloe’s cat-like abilities, because I know from watching the show that that’s where the real interest and plot-intricacy lies.
It’s a real shame that Thomson didn’t make her novel more of a stellar supernatural. There are paragraphs of action brilliance, in which Chloe shows promise as a Buffy-esque heroine. Like when she faces off against a mysterious bad guy and is admirably brazen and witty, despite her fear;
“Can I – help you?” she asked, unsure whether to run away or continue the dialogue.“What’s the matter? No urge to fight? The ancient instinct hasn’t awakened in you yet?” the man sneered.“I had kind of planned on a cocoa and an early bedtime, actually.” She circled carefully, keeping a tree between them.“You almost sound human.” With a misdirection of his left hand, he threw the dagger at her with his right. Chloe jumped, but it tore her shoulder as it passed.He had two daggers now, one in each hand.
I am loving the ABC adaptation of Celia Thomson’s ‘The Nine Lives of Chloe King’ series. Unfortunately, everything that I love about the show is non-existent in the book. Though this is clearly a supernatural series with a superhero-bent, our catty heroine is more interested in her love life and fractured friendships than discovering the truth behind her transformation. I will definitely keep watching the TV series, but I have little interest in reading more of the based-on books.