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teardrop-lauren-kateReleased: June 2014

Lauren Kate’s bestselling Fallen series is one of my favourite YA fantasy stories, so when it was announced that the author was penning a new novel entitled Teardrop, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. My only question before I started the book was, would this be as good as the original Fallen novel?

Teardrop centres on seventeen year-old Eureka Boudreaux, who’s mourning the sudden death of her mother after a freak accident. She bottles up her pain, refuses to talk to anyone about her feelings, and absolutely never cries. All the things Eureka used to love have lost meaning to her and a failed suicide attempt has made people look at her differently. She’s not only the girl whose mum died, she’s also the girl who tried to kill herself. Even her dad doesn’t know what to do with her anymore, siding with his new wife by sending Eureka to yet another shrink.

When a car crashes into the back of her, Eureka meets a boy called Ander, whose eyes are bright turquoise like the ocean, and whose actions towards her are more than a little strange. Ander seems to be everywhere Eureka goes, though nobody knows who he is, and even Eureka’s best-friend Brooks has taken an instant disliking to him.

Following the reading of her mother’s will, Eureka is left three items. A locket with a grimy clasp that doesn’t want to open, a thick hard-back book in an unknown language, and something her mother called a ‘thunderstone’. At first Eureka struggles to work out why her mother left her three ancient items which mean nothing to her, but intertwined with the locket, book and thunderstone is an ancient tale of a girl so heartbroken she cried an entire continent into the sea. Suddenly Ander’s appearance doesn’t seem like such a coincidence and her mother’s death might not have been an accident after all.

Inspired by an obsession with flood narratives, from Noah’s Ark to Atlantis, Lauren Kate has used the concept of an ancient civilisation under the sea as the basis for her novel. Similar to Fallen, Teardrop has a firm foundation in mythology and historical philosophy, and Plato’s Atlantis is soon revealed to be at the heart of the novel. It’s an intriguing story, playing with what we already know of Atlantis and weaving it into a modern day tale, complete with people who can breathe under water and the fate of the world resting in one girl’s tears.

I’ve always been a fan of Kate’s confident and imaginative prose; there’s an easy quality to it that doesn’t try too hard or attempt to be too clever. Despite being rooted in fantasy, Teardrop has a very human feel to it, revealing the pain and torment that comes with losing a loved one unexpectedly and feeling adrift in your own skin.

The problem with Teardrop – and it’s the only criticism I can make – is that many of the characters feel very familiar, as if they were taken from the pages of Fallen and given a slight facelift. Eureka’s voice is too much like Luce’s (Fallen’s protagonist) and the love-friendship triangle that develops between her, Ander and Brooks instantly brings to mind the Luce-Daniel-Cam triangle prevalent in the first Fallen novel. This could go either way for fans of the books – they might like the familiarity and be able to look beyond the character similarities in favour of the different story. On the flipside it could just feel a little bit samey.

If you’re new to Lauren Kate’s writing, Teardrop is a great introduction to her YA books. It embroils you in a tale of romance and heartbreak, of sacrifice and survival, and when it ends you’re desperate to find out what happens next. Kate writes with such ease and passion that you instantly fall in love with the stories and characters she creates. It’s not quite on a level with Fallen but the next book might raise the bar. I’m already looking forward to continuing Eureka’s quest in book number two, Waterfall.

★★★★

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