Title: The Fear of Falling
Author: Amanda Cowen
Publisher: Amanda Cowen Books
Release Date: October 8th, 2018
Pages: 310 pgs.
Genre: New adult, contemporary, romance
They try not to let their second slip up affect their friendship, but when Spring Break forces them to vacation under the same roof; and Ryan’s ex walks back into his life, Ella is shocked by a fierce stab of possessiveness. And when Ella continues to see Liam, Ryan finds himself plagued by unfamiliar jealousy. With their friendship strained for the first time, Ella and Ryan face an alarming truth: Maybe they can’t be just friends. Maybe they are falling faster than expected. And maybe, deep down, they want to.
Amanda Cowen can be found eating cupcakes, singing off-key, or watching a good RomCom when she isn’t trapped on her computer writing stories. She is an “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” fanatic, a hater of roller-coasters and a country music junkie. She lives in Thunder Bay, ON where the summers are short and the winters are long.
Amanda would love to hear from her readers. Become a fan on Facebook, follow her on Instagram @authoramandacowen, or follow her on Goodreads.
I’ve never been the biggest fan of contemporary new adult romances for one big reason: they’re all so similar that I don’t just feel myself rooting for the main couple. They don’t have any kind of real chemistry that makes me feel like they absolutely belong together. Color me shocked, then, when I found myself breezing through Amanda Cowen’s newest novel, The Fear of Falling, while traveling to and from seeing a friend for a day trip. Does it transform the contemporary NA romance genre? No, but it’s a fun ride from start to finish and was actually capable of making me swoon just a little bit — all good signs.
In The Fear of Falling, the story follows college best friends Ella and Ryan, who are determined to prove that men and women can stay just friends. Ella is singularly-focused on completing her Bachelor’s program in Animation to live her dream working at Disney Animation Studios. Ryan, however, has big shoes to fill to succeed in his law program so he could one day be named partner at his father’s firm. Despite it all, they end up making one little mistake on the night of Ella’s 21st birthday and suddenly, they find themselves wanting to study each other instead of their books. Will they fall for each other or out of friendship altogether?
Okay, let’s address the biggest thing here: you know how this story ends before it even starts. Kind of. I’m not going to spoil how they get there, but know that this story does have a happily ever after. After all of the disgusting nonsense going on just a few blocks from my home right now, a happily ever after ending in my reading material is just what I need to maintain my sanity.
Again, plot-wise, we’ve all seen it before: boy and girl have some quirky meet-cute, they have a will-they-or-won’t-they friendship, there’s a random night of drunken passion, they end up dating other people, they finagle their feelings for each other. But there’s something charming in the way Cowen moves the story along. Scenes like the Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes concert help give the readers a better understanding of exactly how much Ryan and Ella truly pine for each other and build some fun tension that birthed little butterflies in my stomach.
Books in this genre are usually rife with soulless main characters that want to do nothing but fuck each other silly; they’re mere vehicles for the authors to live out their wildest sexual fantasies. While that works for some people, it really does not work for me. However, I can certainly commend Cowen on creating a handful of interesting, fun characters with actual motivations, desires, and feelings. We’ve all been Ella, trying to weave our way through the uncertainty of early adulthood relationships. We’ve all been Ryan, trying to decide which path is right for us. We’ve all had Liam moments, where we drop everything holding us down to start fresh elsewhere. Because we can really see who these characters are, it makes it so easy and lovely to root for their victories and feel sad for their pitfalls.
What really brought me out of the reading, though, were the constant grammatical and syntax errors littered throughout the novel. I can understand using sentence fragments as a stylistic choice when wanting to emphasize a point. Authors do it all the time. Abandoned gerund phrases, however, are particularly egregious. For example, phrases like “His eyes travelling the entire length of my body from my feet to my eyes,” were used regularly, even though the sentences these phrases were intended to modify came just before their use. Furthermore, there were several instances of the wrong form of your/you’re used in many areas, as well. Yes, hiring a copy editor can be an expense that many authors cannot spare, but the majority of the errors that cropped up throughout the novel could easily be caught in Microsoft Word using the editing tools.
Also, a nerdy note: Ryan, the main romantic interest is supposed to be a huge Star Wars geek, yet he references “Hans” Solo a few times. “Hans” Solo, not Han. Though that’s not a major detail in the story, it was enough to make me bury my face directly into my pillow for a few moments.
I approached this book knowing that it wouldn’t contain anything groundbreaking for the contemporary romance genre — but that’s okay! Not every book has to be the most amazing thing I’ve read in my life. If Cowen’s goal was to write a fun, engaging story that keeps readers flipping pages to root for her main characters, then I say she absolutely achieved that goal with The Fear of Falling. If anything, she helped this old grouch reevaluate how much fun a contemporary romance can be.