Study Guide

Fallen Themes

  • Religion

    Spoiler alert, folks, but Fallen is about fallen angels.

    Very novel, we know.

    If your novel's got fallen angels, then it's gonna have some stuff about religion in it, too. In this case, what we get isn't too heavy hitting—it's more of a plot device, and something that fleshes out the characters. What happens if you have angelic heritage? What kind of lifestyle will you have? How much Bible should you be reading? All we have to say is keep your arms, legs, and wings buckled up at all times, because things are about to get a little holy up in here.

    Questions About Religion

    1. Luce's agnostic upbringing isn't discussed in the book until the end, when Miss Sophia makes a big deal about how Luce won't be able to be reincarnated since her soul hasn't been saved. What kind of a difference might it have made in the context of this world if Luce might have been raised as Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, New Age, or any other of the world's religions?
    2. How does the setting play a part in emphasizing the theme of religion in this book? Does the campus of Sword & Cross hold up as a kind of religious relic?
    3. What kind of role does religion play in the lives of the rest of the students? Despite taking religion as a class, it seems like the other students don't really care one way or another about any kind of formal religion. Would religion be a good way to foster community at a school like this?
    4. What does it mean that no other faiths are represented at this school?

    Chew on This

    We realize by the end of the book that Cam, Gabbe, Arriane, Roland, Molly, and Daniel are fallen angels, but that Penn is not. Similarly, Miss Sophia is a Zhsmaelim, but Mr. Cole is just a regular guy. The humans at this school are not important.

    Fallen is all about arcane Christian lore, but it subverts it but introducing the non-Christian theme of reincarnation.

  • Loss

    Fallen is the story of a young man destined to lose the love of his life over and over and over again, every seventeen years. But over the course of the novel, as we see Luce trying to piece together her own scattered memories, we realize that even though Daniel losing her over and over again is a tragedy, Luce losing herself over and over again strikes a deeper chord. All the lives she lived, all the experiences she would have had that she can no longer remember, all of it make up the person she is now.

    Questions About Loss

    1. Which character's backstory do you think is the most tragic?
    2. How much of the book does Luce really spend morning Trevor's death? Do you think her superficial sense of duty for his loss is real, or do you think that she's taking more of a selfish approach over the loss of her former life at Dover Prep?
    3. How do Luce's parents handle her going to Sword & Cross? Is their behavior believable, or, as Luce claims, does it really show that they're scared of her?
    4. How does Penn's death at the end of the book tie into this overwhelming sense of loss, and what does it add to the message of the story? Does Luce seem much affected by it, or is Luce more interested in her dating life than in the loss of Penn?

    Chew on This

    Luce mourns many things during her time at Sword & Cross: her hair, her friendship with Callie, Penn, her parents. But none of that seems to be on her mind as she's getting into a plane with Mr. Cole in the last chapter: she has grown as a character.

    The outlawing of cell phones makes it a lot harder not only for the students to communicate quickly with the outside world, but also with each other.

  • Memory and Dreams

    When you've been alive, in one form or another, for hundreds of years, you're gonna have a lot of memories to sift through. That's certainly the case for Luce and Daniel in Fallen, anyway. As soon as she gets to Sword & Cross, Luce begins having strange dreams that all revolve around a certain mysterious young man. Daniel, for his part, tells us pretty much straight up that he's haunted by so many memories of losing Luce. Can anything they do break the cycle?

    Questions About Memory and Dreams

    1. Dreams are sometimes prophetic, but Luce's memories and her dreams are directly tied together. What would happen if she hadn't had those dreams, or what if they had been more disjointed? Would she have been more or less likely to believe what Daniel tells her later?
    2. If Daniel knows that being standoffish never works, how could he switch up his tactics? Could he pretend to befriend Luce and keep her just as a friend? Could he make it so that he would have another girlfriend when they met? What excuse might have worked in the past to keep Luce alive?
    3. How would Fallen be different it were set in a different time or place? Would social restrictions change the way Luce and Daniel interact? What if they had met again in the distant past, or in the distant future? Would their memories of each other be as potent?
    4. How would the story be different if it were written entirely from Daniel's perspective?

    Chew on This

    If Luce's memories are all stored up from her past lives, does that mean she really has experienced everything she's done and seen in her dreams?

    Luce's age might have something to do with the particular memories that she remembers. Imagine what her memories would be like if she could live into her twenties or thirties.

  • Southern Charm and Southern Gothic

    The surreal, creepy, but kind of romantic campus of Sword & Cross in Fallen is kind of like its own character. Can you imagine this melodramatic, centuries-long romance of the literally damned taking place anywhere else? We mean, really, this is a place that's surrounded by Civil War cemeteries and has a gymnasium that's really a converted old church. If we were teenaged fallen angels, this is where we'd go to hang out and fall in love and save the world, too.

    Questions About Southern Charm and Southern Gothic

    1. How would this story be different if it took place in a different part of the country, or in a different country altogether?
    2. Since Luce grew up in the South—at least in this lifetime—she has some familiarity with the setting of Sword & Cross. What if she had grown up in a different part of the country, and the South was a whole new world to her?
    3. Does the fact that the campus was an old Civil War site add anything to the Gothic feel of the story?

    Chew on This

    The South is, overall, a pretty Christian place. Imagine how the idea of fallen angels would have gone over somewhere like New York or Los Angeles. Consider how people would react differently there if they knew fallen angels were in their midst.

    Many of the characters have lived many lifetimes in many different places, but they seem somewhat untouched by those places in this lifetime.

  • Light and Shadow

    Light and shadow, black and white, good and evil: Fallen's all about the mysterious doings of some troubled teenage angels at a Southern reform school. But what's good, and what's bad? Most of the book takes place in a moral gray area—and there are a lot of other colors at play, too: Cam's green eyes conjure images of grass, but also of snake scales; Daniel's golden hair and gray eyes conjure an image of lovely, ethereal beauty; Arriane's black hair indicates rebellion, as does Luce's. And did we mention that shadows are actual characters here?

    Questions About Light and Shadow

    1. How do light and shadow play into the larger implications of good and evil in the book, and how does pairing light with Daniel and dark with Cam play into these implications?
    2. How do light and dark play into the settings and the emotions that Luce feels? How do they highlight her tumultuous feelings?
    3. If the shadows are not really creating any damage but are acting primarily as spies, how does that change the potential of their ominous behavior? Moreover, what does it mean that Luce can start to manipulate and act against them? Does it show an increase in her power over them?

    Chew on This

    If Luce can manipulate shadows, and if she can see the light emanating off Daniel, this might indicate that there's something supernatural about her, beyond the whole reincarnation business.

    If Luce can see Daniel's ethereal glow, it shows that she has a special relationship with him. Arriane and Gabbe and Cam are also fallen angels, but Luce doesn't see the glow coming from them.

  • Reincarnation

    Fallen may be about fallen angels—a pretty Judeo-Christian kind of thing—but Lauren Kate turns dogma on its head by giving us a protagonist who just keeps coming back again and again, from one life to the next. The point of all this reincarnation seems to be that Luce and Daniel, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, are being given the chance over and over to do things right. But will they succeed? And how can they figure out what it is they have to do to right the world and be together forever?

    Questions About Reincarnation

    1. Luce has to be reincarnated exactly as she is, with her religion still intact. But it's not always within her control—for example, in this lifetime, she was never baptized. Still, why is it that she's always reincarnated as herself and not as some other person? Does it even count as reincarnation then?
    2. Is the guilt that Luce feels for the deaths of Trevor and Todd authentic? Or is she more concerned with how these deaths affect her and her desires? How does Daniel's acknowledgement that she's not guilty change her perspective?
    3. For someone who doesn't have any ghosts from the past haunting her, how does Penn handle herself at Sword & Cross? Does using her status as an assistant help her fit in more, since she can dig up dirt on people? How well-liked is she?

    Chew on This

    Luce comes back as the very same Luce she was before. That's how Daniel always recognizes her.

    The fallen angels have been kicked out of heaven. It would be better for them to be reincarnated that it would be for them to die, because there's no other place for them to go besides the fiery pits of hell.

  • Food and Temptation

    According the Bible story, the first two people on Earth were Adam and Eve. They lived in paradise in Eden, but things got tricky one day when a suspicious serpent told Eve she should totally eat some fruit on a treat God told her to stay away from. Tempted, Eve was like, This sounds like a totally great idea, so she ate that fruit and told Adam to do it, too. Turns out they were eating from the Tree of Knowledge, and when the Big Guy found out, he got royally ticked and cast Adam and Even out of Eden.

    Sound familiar?

    Yeah, that's because something pretty similar happens in Fallen. Here, Cam is constantly tempting Luce with trinkets and fancy food, and he's usually doing so in some leafy place. Cam: delicious and dangerous. Luce: staggeringly stupid and totally lacking in self-awareness. What could go wrong?

    Questions About Food and Temptation

    1. In different scenes, Cam offers Luce various kinds of food, including an apple, some figs, and some cheese. What is it about fruit in particular that elicits ideas of forbidden behavior? Would it have been the same if Cam offered her a cheeseburger, or a Groupon?
    2. Why does Cam ask Luce to meet her at a bar but not tell her specifically that they're going to a bar? Does the name of the bar, The Styx, indicate anything about Cam's character? Does it hint at the danger of the situation Luce is going to put herself in by going there?
    3. Luce declares early on that she is a vegetarian—not because she's rebelling from her parents or trying to do good in the world. She just doesn't like meat. What does this say about Luce's character? And what does it say about Sword & Cross that most of their meals are, as Luce puts it, meat-centric?
    4. Not only does Cam have access to exotic foods, but he also has access to alcohol, both on campus and off. What does this say about his character and his lifestyle, and does it emphasize a certain message about how we're supposed to feel about Cam? How reliable is he as a character?

    Chew on This

    Luce's parents surprise her with a picnic of her favorite things on Parents' Day. This gesture suggest that Luce's parents love her, even though they've sent her away to Sword & Cross.

    Although Luce drinks at Cam's party, Penn never does. Sometimes Penn acts more as a parent to Luce than as a friend.

  • Loneliness and Friendship

    One is the loneliest number, as Fallen's Luce Price knows all too well. Luce's misadventures at Sword & Cross leave her feeling quite alone for much of the book. Sure, she does eventually make friends, including some good ones, but life's just not right when the hunky bad boy doesn't notice you. Can the presence of almost-as-hunky Cam alleviate some of Luce's loneliness? Or Daniel the only one who can make her feel all that romantic goo? Hey, at least she has Penn and Arianne and Gabbe to help her keep her head sort of on. #girlcode

    Questions About Loneliness and Friendship

    1. How would Luce's experience have been different if she had been able to talk to Callie or her parents more frequently? Would she have been able to get better relationship advice, or would she have lied to both about liking Cam when she really liked Daniel?
    2. Does it seem like Arriane and Roland are more than friends? This might just be us shipping them harder than the book does, but they do make a cute couple.
    3. Does Daniel's hostility push Luce toward Cam? Or is Luce just seeking attention all on her own? Does she seem like the type of person who needs to be liked?

    Chew on This

    The angelic students have had many lifetimes to get to know one another. Friends who rebel against God together stick together.

    Like Luce, Daniel seems to be the only one who is both within a friend group and outside of it. He hangs out with Roland sometimes, but he also goes off on his own. Could this be tied to his relationship with Luce, and the fact that he's somehow more damned than the other fallen angels?