Study Guide

The Fallen Star Themes

  • Abandonment

    A great deal of Gemma's isolation in The Fallen Star comes from the fact that she feels abandoned by the people around her. Her parents supposedly died when she was just an infant, and Gemma's been raised by her "grandparents" Marco and Sophia, who aren't exactly the best guardians in the world. Even though they're usually around, Marco and Sophia are emotionally distant and uncaring around Gemma. She feels like no one in her life cares about what's going on with her or what she's feeling. It's a pretty lonely way to live.

    Questions About Abandonment

    1. Do you think that Gemma resents her mother for disappearing? Why or why not? Prove your answer with passages from the text.
    2. Why are Sophia and Marco so mean to Gemma all the time? Do they truly see her as just a job? Is it possible they're acting out of love toward her? Dig into the book for support.
    3. Why won't Aislin ever leave Laylen behind? Is it just about her feelings for him? Is it just about how Aislin rolls in the loyalty department?
    4. Why does Alex insist on being right next to Gemma all the time? Be specific, and give evidence from the text, please.

    Chew on This

    Even though Sophia and Marco raise Gemma from the time that she's a little kid, she has no emotional connection to them because they have all but abandoned her emotionally.

    Gemma's mother disappears when she's four, but Gemma doesn't resent her for the abandonment. Instead Gemma feels a lot of love for her mother because she's the only person who's ever showed her compassion and affection.

  • Betrayal

    Not everyone is as they seem in The Fallen Star. Laylen is a vampire who is neither bloodthirsty nor evil, and Stephan—the leader of the Keepers—isn't as good as he's supposed to be. Throughout the book, Alex and Aislin are acting under his instructions with the belief that he wants them to save the world, but in the end, it's clear that he's working with Demetrius and that he is the one who made Gemma's mother disappear. As the book comes to a close, though, it looks like Alex is still firmly Team Stephan, betraying Gemma in her hour of need.

    But is he really? Only future installments in the series will tell.

    Questions About Betrayal

    1. Why does Stephan banish Gemma's mother to the Underworld? How is this a betrayal? Are there ways in which it's a display of loyalty? Give examples from the text.
    2. Why won't Alex and Aislin tell Gemma anything about her childhood? Who do they maintain loyalty to, who do they betray, and what are the stakes?
    3. Why do you think Stephan is working with Demetrius? How do his kids factor into this? Is he doing right by them in any way? Why or why not?

    Chew on This

    Alex thinks that Laylen doesn't trust Stephan because he holds a grudge against him for kicking him out of the community of Keepers, but in the end it's revealed that Laylen had real, valid reasons to suspect Stephan of some serious betrayal.

    Gemma may find Alex infuriating, but she doesn't expect him to turn on her at the very end. When he ignores her bid for help and lets Stephan do what he wants to with her mind, she completely loses hope.

  • Lies and Deceit

    The characters in The Fallen Star don't always tell each other the truth, though this doesn't necessarily signal bad intentions. Alex and Aislin are keeping Gemma's mother's disappearance when she was four and the fact that her emotions were taken away a secret, and Sophia and Marco don't tell Gemma anything about her past, not even the fact that she has a star lodged inside of her.

    Gemma isn't the only one being lied to, though, and for her part, she isn't entirely forthcoming with Alex about her emotions and visions. Even though she trusts him for the most part, she still feels like there are some mysteries that she needs to sort through alone.

    Now that we think about it, we're not sure anyone tells the whole truth and nothing but the truth in this book. Well, except Laylen. He's the straightest shooter, we're thinking.

    Questions About Lies and Deceit

    1. Why won't Alex and Aislin tell Gemma about when her mother disappeared? Do they have the same reasons or do they have different motives in some ways?
    2. Why do you think Laylen is so much more willing to tell Gemma the truth? Are there things they have in common that inspire him? If so, what?
    3. Do you think that Gemma forgives Sophia and Marco for lying to her all these years? Why or why not?
    4. Do you think that Gemma can trust Alex even though he's Stephan's son? Why or why not?

    Chew on This

    Alex thinks that he's protecting Gemma by not telling her the whole truth about her past, but she feels like he's being an untrustworthy traitor by keeping stuff from her.

    Gemma resents Sophia and Marco for not being more loving with her, but she resents them even more for lying to her about her past and refusing to talk about her parents. If they're not going to love her, she should at least know more about the people who did love and care about her.

  • Violence

    The Fallen Star isn't the kind of fantasy novel where it's all rainbows and unicorns. There's a war on the horizon because the Death Walkers are hunting down Gemma so she can't stop them from bringing on the icy apocalypse—and they'll stop at nothing until she's destroyed.

    Throughout the book, Gemma scrambles to stay alive. And in hopes of stopping the Death Walkers, she and Alex have to fight back hard, which sometimes involves stabbing those pesky ice demons right in the heart until they're dead. Pretty gruesome, huh?

    Questions About Violence

    1. How do Alex, Aislin, and Laylen risk their lives to protect Gemma? Be specific, please. Do you notice any patterns?
    2. How do the Death Walkers kill their victims? What does this tell you about the Death Walkers? What does it tell you about their victims and their vulnerabilities?
    3. Why does Laylen insist they pick up the Sword of Immortality at the vampire club? Is Laylen a danger to all of his friends? Why or why not?

    Chew on This

    Even though Alex and Aislin are often in mortal peril as they try to protect Gemma, they never complain or act afraid because they know what they're up against and they're ready to do their job.

    Gemma is totally terrified of the Death Walkers and the icy death that they cause, but she's even more scared of someone like Stephan who will stab her in the leg just to teach her a lesson.

  • Fear

    Gemma is a pretty brave leading lady in The Fallen Star, but now that she's feeling real human emotions, she has fear to contend with—big time. See, there's plenty to fear after Gemma meets Alex and learns that she's supposedly the world's savior… so long as she evades the Death Walkers who want to kill her and bring on the apocalypse (no big deal, right?). She's terrified of being caught by the Death Walkers and killed, but she's also scared that Stephan will take away all her emotions again. Things aren't exactly easy when the fate of the world rests on your shoulders.

    Questions About Fear

    1. Why do you think Gemma starts having nightmares about the Death Walkers? Does this complicate the value of emotions, or is feeling fear actually a good thing (just like, say, feeling happiness)?
    2. Why isn't Gemma afraid of Laylen when she meets him? Give evidence from the text.
    3. What scares Gemma when she enters the vampire club? What does this tell you about what she's afraid of, and as such, who she is as a character?

    Chew on This

    Once Gemma's emotions come back, they seep into every aspect of her life, including her dreams.

    When Gemma is hiding from the Death Walkers at Laylen's house, she's most worried about Laylen because he's one of the few people she actually interacts with and likes.

  • Identity

    What if you woke up one day and everything you knew about yourself was turned upside down? That's what happens to Gemma in The Fallen Star. All her life, she's been completely unemotional and believed her parents died in a car accident when she was a baby. Then suddenly she starts experiencing strong and unstoppable emotions, learns that her mother disappeared under mysterious circumstances when she was four, finds out that her grandparents aren't really her grandparents, and learns that the fate of the world rests on her shoulders. And oh yeah—she has the power of a fallen star lodged inside of her, too. That's a lot to take in, isn't it?

    Questions About Identity

    1. How does the sudden onslaught of emotions affect the way that Gemma sees herself? Give specific examples from the text.
    2. How does Gemma react to the news that she has a star lodged inside of her? Does her relationship to this information change over time? If so, how and what does this tell you about Gemma's character development? If not, what does this reveal about Gemma?
    3. Does becoming a vampire change the way Laylen sees himself? Why or why not, and if so, how? Does it change how other people see him? Why or why not, and if so, how?

    Chew on This

    From the very beginning of the book, Gemma is a girl who's experiencing a total shift in her identity. Now that she can experience emotions, she has to completely relearn everything about herself.

    Gemma is shocked by Alex's explanation about why she's special, but she takes on her role as the savior of the world with grit and fortitude. It may be scary and overwhelming, but if she's the only person that can save the world, Gemma is willing to step up to the plate.

  • Fate vs. Free Will

    Fate is definitely something that Gemma and her friends are up against in The Fallen Star since they're trying to fight a prophecy that predicts the end of the word. The Foreseers have predicted that the world will end unless Gemma (who harnesses the power of a fallen star inside of her) can remain unemotional, thereby using all of the star's power to stop a portal from opening and letting a whole army of Death Walkers out. And this prediction is totally running the show in Gemma's life.

    Even though Gemma hasn't asked for any of this, she has to go along with Alex, Aislin, and the other Keepers as they try to stop the prophecy from coming true. Will they be able to save the world? It remains to be seen whether free will can kick fate's butt, so keep reading the series to find out.

    Questions About Fate vs. Free Will

    1. How does Gemma react when she first learns of the prophecy about the power of the fallen star and the end of the world? Does she accept it as fate? Resist it with free will? Some medley of both?
    2. Does Gemma ever want to shed her responsibility and run away from the Keepers at all? Does she act on those feelings? Explain your reasoning by turning to the text for evidence.
    3. Why are Alex, Aislin, and Laylen risking their lives to protect Gemma? Is this fate? Free will? Different for each of them?
    4. How do Gemma's visions fit into the story that she's been told about the prophecy? What does this reveal about fate?

    Chew on This

    Even though visions are supposedly really difficult to change once they've been set in place, the Keepers are still willing to bet the fate of the whole world on Gemma—mostly because she's their only option.

    Most vampires are bloodthirsty and dangerous once they turn, but Laylen is able to overcome that part of himself through sheer will and because he still has his Keeper's mentality of needing to save humanity.

  • Memory and the Past

    When we first meet Gemma in The Fallen Star, her entire past is pretty mysterious and she doesn't remember much of her early childhood since her background has been wiped from her memory and hidden from her. Good times. She doesn't remember her mother or how she disappeared under suspicious circumstances; she even has to find her own mother's name by snooping around. When Gemma starts seeing visions of the past, she realizes that these are memories that have been hidden from her—memories of being with her mother and watching her be taken into the Underworld by Stephan. Gulp.

    Questions About Memory and the Past

    1. Why doesn't Gemma remember anything about her early childhood? Why doesn't she remember her mother? How does this affect Gemma?
    2. Why do you think that Stephan took away Gemma's memories when he took away her emotions? How are memory and emotion connected? How are they different?
    3. Do you think that Stephan, Marco, and Sophia were right to keep Gemma's past hidden from her? Why or why not?

    Chew on This

    When Gemma experiences the visions that mark her as a Foreseer, she doesn't so much see the future as she experiences past memories that she's forgotten. The visions offer a portal into these childhood memories that have totally been erased from her mind.

    Sophia and Marco refuse to talk about Gemma's past or her parents all throughout her life. This is not because they are just tightlipped people; they need to keep her from those memories because they might spark emotional responses.

  • Duty

    Most of the characters in The Fallen Star have a duty to fulfill that they'll risk their lives for. It's an intense bunch, needless to say. The Keepers are all trying to keep Gemma alive so that she can help them to save the world, and even Laylen—despite being a vampire—is completely and selflessly invested in the cause. While Gemma is confused and overwhelmed by everything that's happening, she still goes with Alex and Aislin because she knows she has to do her part, staying safe so the Death Walkers don't destroy the world with their deathly chill. It's a heavy load, but at least it's spread across a bunch of shoulders.

    Questions About Duty

    1. Why do Alex and Aislin risk everything to help keep Gemma safe? Are there any differences in their motives? What does this tell you about their characters and their relationships to Gemma?
    2. Do you think that Alex, Aislin, and Laylen had any choice in being Keeper? Why or why not? Back your answer up with evidence from the text.
    3. How do Marco and Sophia follow their duties when they're instructed to raise Gemma without emotions? What does this tell you about duty and love? Remember to back your argument up with examples from the book.

    Chew on This

    Gemma doesn't necessarily want to get involved with the Keepers and their mission, but she knows that as the only person harboring the star's power, it's her duty to try to save the world—even if it's a lot of trouble and work.

    Alex, Aislin, and Laylen never seem all that frightened of going up against the Death Walkers because this is all a part of their job. Protecting Gemma is the most important thing, and all of them would gladly lay down their lives to make sure that she remains safe.

  • The Supernatural

    There are plenty of magical and supernatural elements floating about in The Fallen Star, which makes sense since the main character is hosting the power of a fallen star inside her body. In Gemma's adventures with Alex, Aislin, and Laylen, she encounters vampires, fortune tellers (who can actually see into the future), angels from hell, and of course, the dreaded Death Walkers. This story may take place in fairly modern day America, but it wholeheartedly takes readers into the realm of the supernatural and fantastical. So get ready to suspend reality.

    Questions About The Supernatural

    1. What kind of supernatural elements is Gemma exposed to when they go to the vampire club? What do these tell you about the world Gemma lives in?
    2. Why do different characters have strange marks on their skin? How does the supernatural intersect with fate? To get started, be sure to swing by fate's page elsewhere in this section.
    3. Why does Alex need the Sword of Immortality to slay the Death Walkers? Why can't they use normal weapons? What does this tell you about power dynamic in this world?

    Chew on This

    Gemma is normally a skeptical person, but she's forced to believe in magic and demons because there's simply no other logical explanation for what she sees.

    Gemma might hold a ton of supernatural power, but when it comes down to it, she's pretty much a baby in the supernatural realm since it's all so new to her. And because of this, she's completely dependent on the help of others.