The moment I heard about this book, I was looking forward to reading it. Not only was the actual novel based on a sensational premise, but I loved the tenacity of TJ Newman that after 41 rejections, she still kept trying to get her manuscript published. Thank goodness she did and thank goodness for the foresight of the 42nd agent who recognized a great story and talent.
Falling has a terrifying set-up (and opening). It’s not spoiling anything to reveal the what drives the overall story as the blurb does the same thing. Basically, an experienced pilot is told to crash a laden commercial passenger plane or his family, who have been taken hostage, will die. If this sounds like the plot for an action movie (and it’s going to be) that’s because it is non-stop action from beginning to end. Furthermore, the book is deliberately cinematic so its easy to visualise each and eery scene and character, particularly those of us familiar with flying (most of us) and the type of aircraft – an A320. The characters are well drawn, you have empathy for both the heroes and the villains, the latter being crafted in such a way that like some of the other characters, you understand their rage but not their ways of resolving it. And even though the American ra-ra is laid on a bit thick at times, and the story borders on sentimentality, it somehow fits. Newman worked for Virgin America for 10 years and this shows. readers are given insights into what goes on behind the scenes with cabin crew, in the cockpit and the relationship between these colleagues and their counterparts on the ground. This was so interesting and brings an authenticity to the story (I was going to write “implausible story” – not as a criticism, hell, it’s fiction, I’d watch a documentary if I wanted plausible. But ever since 9/11 and MH 370, what’s implausible has taken on a whole new meaning) and thus a very real frisson as well.
I read this while in the throes of suffering (chills, fever, headache etc) from a Covid vaccination and I have say it was the perfect panacea. A page-turner par-excellence that made me grateful that, for the time being at least, flying isn’t high on the agenda. So, fasten you seatbelts, stow away your phone and other electronic devices, and prepare to take off with Falling. You won’t be disappointed.