Free to Fall by Lauren Miller, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Free to Fall

Free to Fall

4.6 5
by Lauren Miller

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Rory Vaughn: a brainy, introverted sixteen-year-old who has always felt like an outsider, although she can't put her finger on a reason why. When she is accepted into her dream school, Theden, she is shocked to find out that her mother, who died when she was born, also went there and dropped out just before graduation. This is a secret her father has



Rory Vaughn: a brainy, introverted sixteen-year-old who has always felt like an outsider, although she can't put her finger on a reason why. When she is accepted into her dream school, Theden, she is shocked to find out that her mother, who died when she was born, also went there and dropped out just before graduation. This is a secret her father has kept for sixteen years.

Theden Academy: the only high school of its kind, Theden is an intense two-year liberal arts program for the strong willed and highly gifted. Students are designated by seven Greek numerical prefixes (the Hepta being the best). Rory is a Hepta.

North Pascal: a handsome, tattooed, coffee barista townie who can quote Milton and knows as much about philosophy as Rory's classmates. He was banned from Theden's campus for breaking and entering. This isn't North's only secret.Lux: the decision-making app that everyone uses. No longer caught up in the details of their everyday lives—all those endless decisions!—people are free to just enjoy themselves.

Akratic Personality Disorder (APD): a mental illness whose name comes from the Greek word akrasia, the term Plato used for those who act against their better judgment. See also the Doubt.

The Doubt: the colloquial name for the "whisper within" that children hear but adults are taught to ignore.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 03/10/2014
It’s 2030—handhelds are tinier, Gnosis is society’s current technology juggernaut, and people rely on a program called Lux to maximize happiness for their every decision, down to ordering coffee. Like most people, Rory Vaughn consults Lux every chance she gets, but she has a secret: she suffers from “the Doubt,” an inner voice that supposedly marks a person as crazy. After Rory is accepted to the exclusive Theden Academy, she begins searching for answers about her long-dead mother, who also attended the school. While there, the Doubt only grows stronger, and Rory’s Lux consultations diminish. Then Rory falls for North, a sexy, antiestablishment barista-hacker, who has her back as she’s drawn into a complex web of secrets and lies. Miller (Parallel) offers an intricately plotted, intellectually rich thriller that will please a range of readers, from those searching for a page-turner to those wishing to thoroughly engage the mind. Mathematics and Milton’s Paradise Lost serve as additional drivers pushing Rory toward the truth in this boarding school murder-mystery with a near-future SF twist. Ages 13–up. Agent: Kristyn Keene, ICM. (May)
Voya Reviews, April 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 1) - Stacey Hayman
Fifteen years in the future, Rory Vaughn’s world is not that different from today. True, everyone carries a handheld device and Lux, a life management app, is used to make almost every decision but one choice Rory did not need Lux for was her application to Theden Academy. After receiving a selection letter, Rory knew she would be leaving Seattle for her last two years of high school at this prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. High academic standards and cutting-edge technology were the original factors for Rory’s attendance but before the plane even touches down on the east coast, Rory is consumed by trying to decipher the truth from the secrets, white lies, and brewing scandals swirling around Theden’s hallowed halls. Soon, the situation becomes a case of what you do not know just might kill you, for Rory and her allies. Using the setting of an elite boarding school as the backdrop for a thriller, aimed at teens, is a clever way to prevent age from becoming a stumbling block in how high schoolers are able to deal directly with adult power players. Offering the idea that companies could potentially train all ages to rely too heavily on technology for their own good opens a challenging topic for book groups. The story falls apart a little when the subject of biotechnology is quickly introduced and not fully developed but is featured as a key element in the conclusion. Friendship and romantic relationships provide Rory with the necessary support network and provide lighter moments. Reviewer: Stacey Hayman; Ages 11 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
A girl solves family mysteries while uncovering a technological conspiracy. When Rory is accepted by the prestigious, superelite Theden Academy, she doesn't have to ask Lux if it's a good idea to attend. (The popular decision-making app Lux compiles user data to make recommendations.) Before Rory leaves, her father gives her a letter and necklace from her long-dead mother, revealing that her mother was a Theden dropout. The letter—a quote from Paradise Lost—baffles Rory. Additionally, she must cope with the sudden appearance of the Doubt—in this future, any inner voice, be it intuition or providence, is viewed as mental illness. At the school, the student-body president pursues her, she has tons of friends, and she's even invited into an exclusive secret society. But she finds romance with a counterculture barista-hacker townie. Through a psychology-class project on the Doubt, she accesses her mother's school and medical records. Unraveling the inconsistencies about her mother, she discovers dark truths about Lux—and as the only one who knows, it's up to her to stop it. Rory's stated brilliance is inconsistent with the heavy foreshadowing, and in the final act, there's a marked drop in believability as both the conspiracy unravels and the solution becomes apparent. Despite these missteps, the story offers wonderful treatments of its themes and will keep readers flipping pages. Recognizable characters and intriguing technology shine in this cautionary tale. (Science fiction. 13 & up)
Miller smartly doesn’t exchange strong, involving characters for nonstopaction—there’s plenty of both.
Melissa de la Cruz
Praise for PARALLEL: “A fun, twisty novel about the paths you choose and the paths you don’t…to follow your heart’s desire. Deeply romantic and entertaining!”
Lauren Barnholdt
“Best. Debut. Novel. Ever.”
Huntley Fitzpatrick
“Penetrating, jaw–dropping, and so real, PARALLEL had me turning pages at warp speed, hoping for the best tomorrow. Read this book.”
Jordanna Fraiberg
“PARALLEL beautifully tackles the universal themes of fate, destiny, and the search for a soulmate, proving that there are no wrong turns. Your heart will soar and you’ll be cheering at the end.”
Jennifer E. Smith
“Wildly inventive and wonderfully romantic, PARALLEL takes readers on a journey that will open their minds and their hearts.”
Anna Jarzab
“Thought–provoking, romantic, and so, so smart, PARALLEL is an absolute must–read for anyone and everyone who has ever wondered, What if?”
Kat Zhang
“An intricately–woven story about free will, parallel universes, and cute boys. Miller nails the inner snark of the high school senior, as well as the confusion of figuring out just where your life is supposed to be headed.”
School Library Journal
★ 04/01/2014
Gr 9 Up—When Rory Vaughn, 16, gets accepted to a prestigious boarding school, she's elated. Even Lux, her decision-making app, tells her that Theden Academy is the best way to assure her perfect future. Yet, within her first few days there, Rory finds so much more than what she'd expected on the surface, and inconsistencies about her own birth lead the teen to question her own past, present, and vision for the future. With friends and teachers who encourage her to follow the illustrious path of Theden alums, she wonders why she finds herself so drawn to the rebellious hacker North and his outsider, anti-Lux lifestyle? As more secrets of the past are uncovered, Rory begins to wonder if the same covert group that may have caused her mother's death could now be after her. Miller's science fiction—based romantic thriller takes on social commentary about teens consulting technology for every aspect of their lives. Engaging and thought-provoking, Free to Fall should appeal to a variety of readers with its blend of action, secrecy, and romance, and it provides excellent discussion opportunities.—Jessica Miller, West Springfield Public Library, MA

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.80(d)
HL730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Lauren Miller is an entertainment lawyer and television writer. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two kids.

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