Because the whole story is told from Gemma's perspective, we get a healthy dose of her attitude when it comes to the tone. Gemma is the kind of girl who can be pretty skeptical of other people, and a little harsh, too. You can see this in how she describes her interactions with Alex, along with her serious distrust:
The inability to make eye contact was the first sign someone was lying.
"You're lying," I accused.
"No, I'm not," he said, his eyes still locked on the floor.
"Yes, you are," I insisted. "You can't even look at me." (14.29-32)
Gemma points out in her sardonic tone that "the inability to make eye contact" is the first sign of lying—and that's why she doesn't trust Alex. For the record, we can think of other reasons someone might not make eye contact, like feeling shy, or having a crush, or maybe just suffering from a nasty case of pink eye. Gemma leaps right to deception, though, and her skeptical observations carry on out throughout the book, thanks to our dear Gemma holding the storytelling reins.
The Fallen Star is definitely a rollicking adventure for Gemma and her new friends, even if it's often dangerous and scary. As soon as Gemma meets Alex and Aislin, she's on a wild ride that involves running away from scary ice demons, going to vampire clubs, and visiting a city made entirely of crystal. It's a lot more adventurous—and exciting—than her boring life in small town Afton.
The main character of The Fallen Star is a teenage girl who's suddenly seeing some changes in herself, just as she becomes a woman. No, this isn't a story about Gemma's physical blossoming; it's actually about how she starts feeling emotions and realizes that she's harboring the energy from a fallen star inside of her. All these revelations make Gemma reexamine her life and who she really is—and just like other teenagers, she starts to build an identity for herself. It's classic YA material, written toward a YA audience what with its steamy hunks and straightforward storytelling.
The Fallen Star has some serious fantasy elements to it. First of all, the main character is a girl who has the power of a star hidden inside of her, plus there are a bunch of ice demons out to get her. On top of that, there are vampires, witches, psychics, and a city made entirely of crystal. These aren't things that exist in the real world; they're all delightfully magical and a definite departure from realism. So this book is definitely in the fantasy genre.
The title of The Fallen Star refers to the central element of the book: This book is all about a girl who happens to have the power of a fallen star (yep, a star that fell from the sky to the earth) inside of her. The star is also supposed to be the only thing that can stop a portal from opening up and releasing an army of Death Walkers (some freaky ice demons) who will freeze over the earth and kill everyone. Intense, huh?
But the title doesn't just refer to what Gemma learns about herself throughout the book; it also sets readers up for the whole series. The Fallen Star is the title of this book, but it's also the title of the entire four-book series. The saga has just begun, and this title reminds readers where it all starts from—a powerful star falling from the sky.
The ending of The Fallen Star is a super frustrating and juicy classic cliffhanger. Instead of giving the reader closure, Jessica Sorensen ends the story just when Stephan's captured Gemma and is about to erase all her memories and her soul. The protagonist is in serious peril when the curtain closes:
I thought I heard a loud crash, but my eyelids were too heavy to open. Everything shifted black, and then…
I was gone. (36.65)
This is definitely the kind of ending that is designed to make the reader throw the book across the room and shout "ARGH!!!" But once that frustration is out of the way, the cliffhanger ending entices readers to pick up the next book in the series and learn more about the saga of Gemma and Alex. After all, there are three more books waiting for you, so the ride isn't nearly over yet.
In the beginning, Gemma describes the very small town where she lives with Sophia and Marco—and how much she hates it:
I live in a very small, very spread out town called Afton. It is known for two things: its infamous elk horn arch made of real elk antlers, and its hobby of accumulating snow nine months of the year. Now, I was in no way, shape, or form a fan of either the snow or the cold, so living here was like a polar bear trying to live in Hawaii—unbearable and very impractical. (2.38)
The small town of Afton is completely unremarkable, which is good because the Keepers need to keep Gemma somewhere that the Death Walkers would never look. In a small town that's also super cold (thereby making it harder to track the star's energy), they can keep Gemma hidden for decades. And that's exactly what they do.
As a small town girl, Gemma has never really been anywhere outside of Afton, so when she is transported to Las Vegas thanks to Aislin's magical crystal and witchy abilities, Gemma is totally thrilled. She looks out the window at all the lights and glitz with wonder and amazement:
The sight was breathtaking. Flashy neon lights of every shape and color dazzled so vibrantly against the blackness of the night that I wondered if staring at it for too long would make me go blind. Giant billboards lit up the sides of the road, and uniquely shaped buildings stretched godly toward the sky. As we emerged closer to the city, the sidewalks became packed with mobs of people, the air buzzing with excitement. Now I understood why its nickname had been deemed The City That Never Sleeps. Everything was so alive and awake. (17.22)
Poor Gemma is still pretty much under lock and key, though, so she doesn't get to explore that much, and even when she goes to Vegas, Alex won't let her out of his sight. It's pretty hard when you're a teenager who wants to do ordinary teenager stuff and everyone tells you that you have to stay hidden… forever. Hopefully Gemma will get to explore Vegas (and other places) more in the future.
The language in The Fallen Star is quite simple and straightforward—perfect for young adult readers who want to jump right into the story without any flowery writing to wade through. However, the story's fantastical element definitely makes it so that readers have to pay attention to all the twists and turns in the plot… especially as new characters that aren't exactly normal humans are introduced. It's definitely a crazy and complicated tale, but it's one that you won't want to put down, which makes plowing through it all the easier.
The writing style of The Fallen Star definitely describes external action—it'd be hard not to when Death Walkers are on Gemma's trail—but it focuses a lot on Gemma's inner thoughts as well. As soon as anything happens, we get Gemma's emotional response and her questions about it. For example, when Gemma is first transported to Laylen's house, we get a rundown of the events, but we also get Gemma's inner thoughts about whether or not she's going crazy:
What was happening to me? Was I heading towards an emotional breakdown? Was I going to end up locked away in a padded cell somewhere, screaming at the top of my lungs that everything I said was true—that I wasn't crazy? (12.2)
The writing style spends a lot of time on Gemma's inner thoughts and her emotions—which makes perfect sense, since her emotions are so central to the story. They're brand spanking new, after all, plus they might bring about the end of the world. So yeah, feelings are front and center in this narrative.
In The Fallen Star, a lot of the characters have marks on their skin. At first Gemma thinks that they all have tattoos, but Laylen soon explains to her that these are marks that appear all on their own—no visit to the tattoo parlor needed. When Aislin shows off her marks, she explains:
"What is that?" I asked, pointing at her shoulder.
She traced the lines of the tattoo with her finger. "It's the witches' mark. After I became a witch, it appeared on my skin." (20.31-32)
The "tattoos" signify characters' memberships in certain supernatural groups. As a vampire, Laylen has the mark of immortality, whereas Aislin has marks that show that she's a witch and a Keeper. And when Gemma sees a vision, the mark of a Foreseer starts to show up on her skin:
"Well, it looks like you got your mark."
"A Foreseer's mark?"
He nodded, tracing his fingers gently along the back of my neck. "I can see the outline of it forming right here." (31.73-75)
Beyond supernatural membership, the mark symbolizes to Gemma that this is all real and that it is truly part of her fate to be magical and save the world. She just has to accept it. It's literally writing itself on her body, after all. And in this way, the marks also indicate that as much as they announce people's various powers, people are also powerless against their powers: They have no say in whether they have them or not.
Gemma doesn't just have the normal emotional turmoil that most teenagers face. No, Gemma has emotions that are showing up for the first time ever, so they're embarrassingly strong and difficult to handle. She even bursts into tears at school:
I really struggled to keep all of my newfound emotions under control. There was this one awful incident at school when I had this sudden outburst and started bawling right in the middle of Mr. Belford's lecture on Plate Tectonics. People stared at me like I was a freak, which is understandable. I mean, only a freak would cry over shifting plates. (2.11)
Gemma is embarrassed and concerned by her emotions, but they symbolize the human part of her. This is the part of her that Stephan, Sophia, and Marco have tried to tamp down (because they're afraid it will burn out the star's power), but when Gemma's feelings resurface anyway, much as it may overwhelm her, it's also a sign of the strength of her humanity. All these magical folks haven't actually been able to make the human parts of Gemma disappear.
As we meet her, Gemma is finally getting to live life as a human being complete with all of its ups and downs. Having emotions isn't a piece of cake—and sometimes it's pretty freaking hard—but it's a million times better than just being dead inside. That's why Gemma is so upset when Stephan says that he's going to make her emotionless again: She doesn't want to go back to a robotic and uninterested existence.
To explore Gemma's feelings further, swing by her page in the "Characters" section.
Gemma knows so little about her past and her family that when Alex gives her an old locket, she's thrilled. He's not supposed to give it to her (since it might spark her emotions and all), but he does so anyway because he feels sorry for her. When Gemma opens up the locket, though, she sees a picture of Stephan and immediately realizes who he is:
I didn't answer, sliding the tip of my finger to the man that stood beside her. "So who's this next to her?"
"That's my father." He gave me a funny look. "Why?"
I jumped to my feet, panic firing through me as wildly as the sparks did when Alex had kissed me. "Because he's the one I saw force my mom into the lake." (31.110-112)
Opening the locket is a bit like opening Pandora's box for Gemma. Suddenly everything clicks together in her head: Stephan is the man who pushed her mother into the lake and who keeps appearing in Gemma's nightmares accompanied by his army of Death Walkers. Yikes.
Even though Alex tries to convince Gemma that Stephan isn't the bad guy, once Gemma opens the locket, there's no going back. She knows that Stephan is up to no good—and nothing that Alex can say will convince her otherwise.
The Fallen Star is told entirely from Gemma's perspective, which makes sense because she is the fallen star—or at least she's a girl with the fallen star inside of her. Gemma is the heart of this story; if she doesn't stay alive, the world will literally end. Because she's so important and the stakes are so high, having the story told from her perspective allows the reader to stay right in the middle of the action. So fasten your seatbelts; it's a bumpy ride.
At the beginning of the book, we get a bit of backstory on Gemma, our leading lady. She lives in a small town with her mean grandparents and doesn't know anything about her parents or her past. Perhaps strangest of all, though, is the fact that she used to not feel any emotions, but in the past few months her feelings have been cropping up along with some creepy nightmares about ice demons chasing her through the woods. As if this weren't enough to deal with, a cute boy named Alex shows up at her school—and appears to hate her guts for no reason.
Things heat up when Gemma learns that Alex and his sister, Aislin, are sent from an organization called the Keepers to protect her because she's harboring the energy of a fallen star inside of her—and this star is the only thing that can keep the Death Walkers (the ice demons from her dreams) from bringing about the apocalypse. Yeah, things escalate pretty quickly.
The trio is attacked by Death Walkers and ends up transporting to Las Vegas, where they meet up with a former Keeper-turned-vampire named Laylen. At this point, Gemma is completely pulled into a world of supernatural beings and scary ice demons—something she definitely didn't choose for herself, but that she absolutely has to survive. Or else, you know, the apocalypse happens.
Things get completely out of control when Gemma accidentally touches a crystal ball and finds herself sucked into a vision. In her vision, she sees a mother and a daughter—and then a man with a scar on his face comes along and forces the woman into the lake while she and the little kid scream. It's disturbing, to say the least, and after Gemma sees it, she doesn't know what to make of it. When she asks Alex about it, he gets all cagey and won't tell her everything. Eventually, they go back to a cabin somewhere to hide out while they're being attacked by Death Walkers.
After this, Gemma is on a quest to learn as much as she can. As the story comes close to its exciting close, she learns that the woman in the vision is her mother and that she's the little girl. Gemma also learns that because she can see visions, she's technically a Foreseer—someone who can make prophecies.
If this seems a little anticlimactic for such an action-packed book, consider this: Gemma is equipped with knowledge about herself and her life that creates her own investment in all this super natural chaos. Before she has this vision and understands that it's of her and her mother, Gemma is pretty much just following other characters' interests and investments. Now she is finally on a Gemma-driven mission, plus she steps into her power as a Foreseer. There's no going back at this point.
There isn't a whole lot of falling action in this book since the ending largely sets up the next installment in the series. Still, close to the end of the book, Gemma learns something horrible: The man who forced her mother into the lake is none other than Stephan, the leader of the Keepers and Alex's father. She tries desperately to convince Alex that his father is evil and working with the Death Walkers, but he refuses to believe her.
Sometimes in the falling action things start to come together, but in this case, Gemma's friendship with Alex instead seems like it might fall apart.
At the very end, Stephan shows up with the Death Walkers and Gemma tries to make a run for it. He catches her, though, and says that he's going to take away her emotions by removing her soul and completely wiping her mind so that she won't be able to function anymore. Oh uh-uh… Gemma watches in horror as he takes out a magical smoking rock, and then she falls into blackness. And that's the very last scene.
Not feeling like a very resolved resolution? We agree—but the stage is officially set for the next installment in this series, which is often how resolutions roll when it comes to books in series.