Actual rating: 2.5I’d been hearing little bits and pieces of this novel for a while now, and admittedly I was seen drooling over the cover more than once, so when I saw that the publisher had it up on NetGalley for review, I went ahead and requested it. I’m not sorry I read it, but there were a lot of things that could have been done far better than they were. An asteroid named Persephone is set to make a collision with Earth in a week, by the start of the novel. Due to massive underfunding of NASA and other space programs, there’s no way to really stop it and nothing to do but prepare. During the week that follows, three island teens go about their lives as best they can: Sienna, a suicidal teen released from a psychiatric home because of the asteroid, who has to deal with her father introducing her to his new fiancee; Caden, a young man with a drunken mother and absent father; and Zan, whose boyfriend Leo was killed in a car crash ten months earlier and whose death she still hasn’t quite recovered from. The prose is the real strength of Tumble & Fall. The atmosphere and mood of it is haunting and very still, even when big things are happening. There’s a lot of uncertainty about Persephone and how bad the damage will be (which is actually a complaint I’ll get to in a minute), so people are simply either trying to go about their lives as best they can or are simply spending every second they can with their loved ones. It’s a very unsettling read, not just because of the asteroid but because it feels very real. If all of humanity was about to be killed, in some parts of the world this is probably what it would be like. Calm, but with an unnerving creepiness underneath and a sense of loss. As well as that, there’s genuine emotion in the novel. It feels very natural and real, from Sienna’s struggles with her mental health and her family, to Zan’s heartbreak over Leo’s death, to Caden’s anger at his father and mother. It never descended into melodrama, which it easily could have. The prose kept it from doing so. However, there were major missteps in the novel that kept it from truly shining. Sienna’s story was one of the worst, I think. She meets a boy named Owen she used to sometimes play with as a child, and immediately starts spending a lot of time with him and then running off with him in the middle of the night. Within two days of knowing each other, they’re declaring their love for each other and Sienna is ignoring her family in favor of him. Personally, I was far more interested in Sienna’s new family dynamics than I was this random guy she was suddenly into. I can’t stand insta-love, and unfortunately Sienna and Owen fell right into that pit. I wanted to see more of how Sienna dealt with her father’s new fiancee, Denise, or maybe her spending some time with her brother. I wanted to see more of them trying to figure out how to deal with each other in the aftermath of her suicide attempt and her six months spent at a psychiatric home. Given how one-dimensional Owen was as well, I just felt no urge to know him or read more about him, not like I did the rest of Sienna’s family. Zan’s storyline was also fairly predictable, though I won’t go into specifics why. There was only two ways her storyline could have unfolded, and it’s a pretty basic storyline we’ve seen a hundred times before. That’s not to say there isn’t good emotion in there, because there is. I just knew where her storyline was going, so more than anything I felt bored by her chapters. Caden’s story is the stranger one. His life quickly unravels and he’s thrust into odd situations, and out of the three I think his storyline is the one I enjoyed the most. His character growth felt believable, as well as his attraction to another character in his storyline, mostly because they weren’t declaring how much they loved each other within two days of meeting each other. The resolution of his storyline was the most touching, along with Zan’s. But here’s my biggest complaint about the novel. If you’re going to have the catalyst for everything be something scientific, you had better make certain you get the facts of it right. Spoilers for the novel underneath the cut.At one point, the government decides to launch a nuke at Persephone to see if they can steer it off course. This, of course, does not work, as any disaster movie from the 80s could have told anyone. Instead Persephone is broken into many other pieces, still heading on a trajectory for Earth. Zan and her friend Nick are told this by another character, and it’s mentioned how the scientists don’t know how bad the impact will be. Now, at this point, there had been a lot of uncertainty around Persephone as a whole, which I was willing to overlook for a while. Maybe NASA truly had been underfunded to the point where there wouldn’t be any certainty what Persephone would do. However. If she’s finally close enough that they can launch a rocket at her and she’s only about a day from colliding with Earth, at this point, the scientists should know exactly how big she is and what the impact event will consist of. They may not know where exactly she’ll land, but they’d know what would happen if she did due to her size. None of this is mentioned. There are no announcements made about what will happen, what people can expect, nothing. Persephone is kept in an air of uncertainty and therefore so are the characters. Everyone kind of assumes that it’ll wipe out humanity, but never is it specifically stated by any official during the course of the novel. This felt like such a forced attempt at keeping some haunting mystery to everything that it really brought the novel down a few notches for me. Given the really effective, pitch perfect final image the book closes on, I think that ending would have been stronger if we knew for certain that all of humanity was going to be killed in the collision, or at the very least a good chunk of it. Readers are smarter than this, and they can handle a sad book with a more conclusive answer. Given the strength of the prose, emotion, and the technical writing, I’d be interested in seeing what else Alexandra Coutts has to offer in the future. But I do wish the overall characters and their storylines had been stronger, and I do wish the scientific facts hadn’t been skimped on in order to maintain a vague non-answer about the fate of everything.See this review and others at On The Nightstand! I received a copy of this book for review through the publisher on NetGalley.