Free to Fall

Free to Fall

4.6 5
by Lauren Miller

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From the author of Parallel comes a high-stakes romantic puzzler set in a near-future where everyone's life is seamlessly orchestrated by personal electronic devices. Imaginative and thrilling, this fast-paced story with two starred reviews is not to be missed.

Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith


From the author of Parallel comes a high-stakes romantic puzzler set in a near-future where everyone's life is seamlessly orchestrated by personal electronic devices. Imaginative and thrilling, this fast-paced story with two starred reviews is not to be missed.

Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision-making for the best personal results. Just like everyone else, sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn knows the key to a happy, healthy life is to follow what Lux recommends. When she's accepted to the elite boarding school Theden Academy, her future happiness seems all the more assured. But once on campus, something feels wrong beneath the polished surface of her prestigious dream school. Then she meets North, a handsome townie who doesn't use Lux, and begins to fall for him and his outsider way of life. Soon, Rory is going against Lux's recommendations, listening instead to the inner voice that everyone has been taught to ignore—a choice that leads her to uncover a truth neither she nor the world ever saw coming.

Editorial Reviews

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
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)
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.”
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)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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953 KB
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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Free to Fall 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
jenniferstrand More than 1 year ago
It's as if Lauren Miller went digging around in my head and came up with a story that contains all the things I love. A main character who is smart, likeable, kick-ass and female? BAM. Hey, you want some mystery? GOTCHA COVERED. How about a good guy to swoon over? HERE YOU GO. Oh, you want a futuristic story line that feels a little too close to home? VOILA. Which is to say...there's a little bit of everything in this story. When this book landed on my doorstop, I couldn't believe how big it was. FREE TO FALL weighs in at close to 500 pages! A bit daunting, right? And you know what? You'll wish there were more. The pacing of this story is so darn good that you won't even notice how many pages you've zoomed through (or the fact that you've stayed up waaaay past your bedtime to read just one last chapter. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.) You're going to love Rory and North. That's going to be a given. Watch those secondary characters, though. This complex story will have you theorizing and convinced that THINGS will go one way and suddenly you'll realize you've fallen prey to believing something that's just not true. Oh, the twists. I likey.
StephWard More than 1 year ago
'Free to Fall' is a thrilling and unique young adult dystopian novel that will definitely have readers begging for more. The story follows our teenage heroine, Rory Vaughn, as she lives a normal teenage life in a future world. Not much has changed - technology is huge, everyone is attached to their tablets and phones - posting to the Forum, which is basically like Twitter. There are some awesome new technologies - like holographic wallpaper that you can change and an app - Lux - that basically tells you what to do in every situation you encounter, based on the optimal results. Everyone trusts Lux for decisions, including Rory, until she is accepted into the prestigious Theden Academy. Rory begins to notice strange things that don't add up and that might have something to do with her dead mother. She also meets North - a guy who is offline from Lux and the other new technologies - who challenges her to trust her own instincts rather than an app. What Rory and North discover changes everything they thought they knew about their world as long as some other truths that might have been better left hidden. I loved this book - every aspect of it. The dystopian future described in the story is eerily similar to our own - which makes it feel like it could really happen, which is even creepier (except for some of the cool technology). The characters were interesting and well rounded, especially Rory and North. Rory was a great main character who started out like everyone else - basically a sheep of society - but gradually broke apart and saw things for what they were. Her characters definitely matures and grows throughout the story and she shows great personality traits like intelligence, determination, and perseverance. North was a great complement to Rory's character - he was able to break through what society had trained her to believe and to trust in herself and her instincts. I liked watching their interactions grow into friendship and beyond. The plot was fantastic - like I mentioned, the story isn't so far-fetched that it's unbelievable like some dystopians. This feels like it could actually happen in the not so distant future. I think that aspect made it all the more intense for me - it made me stop and think about our own society. The story was fast paced and had a natural flow that sucked me right in from the beginning. The author's writing style was superb - she was able to capture the characters and this strange future in a way that felt like I was there myself throughout the story. I loved reading about the differences in our cultures - like I mentioned, there's some seriously cool technology in there. I can't say enough good things about this book. It has something for everyone - action, science fiction, adventure, thriller, mystery, romance, dystopian - it seriously breaks genre labels. I highly recommend this book to fans of science fiction and dystopias, as well as those who want a fantastic read that makes you step back and think about our own society. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
16yearoldbookgirl More than 1 year ago
Loved It! If you liked Parallel, you'll probably like this too. Once again the author sets up a cool plot, but you're like 'where is this going?'. I was worried, just like in Parallel, it was gonna be a cool idea not executed correctly, but it was done perfectly! This futuristic world makes you want to keep reading even when you're done! 
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
   I wanted to read this one because I read Parallel by Lauren Miller and really enjoyed. Even if she wasn't an author I had previously read, I would have still picked it up. I like the ideas of fate and destiny and if something can change it. With this app that will help you make the best decisions, what is driving that? Best decisions for who? I wanted to know what was going on at the school, and the uncertainty and then breaking away from it that Aurora (Rory) seems to have in the synopsis seemed like something that I could really relate to.     I am glad that the story starts before she's at Theden. We get a glimpse of the life that has shaped her. A mother who died when she was a baby, a dad and stepmother, being obsessed with school, grades, and having her life just so. But I also like that she was drawn to Beck, the free spirit, who still hears his conscious, which meds and meditation has labeled The Doubt--when your brain makes you doubt perfectly reasonable things. He is a photographer, and has been her best friend.     It was neat and different at Theden at first, with Rory rooming with a girl from her high school that she hadn't really even talked to before, who disappears in the middle of the night and acts like they are besties. Their adviser has these pods that does simulations and it puts them in the middle of dramatic situations and sees what they'll do. Their relationship throughout this one really surprised me. I didn't think there was much depth to Hershey, and at times she surprises me both way. Also, the part that Dr. Tarsus, their adviser, plays in this one reminded me of another famous teacher and student situation and dynamics.      With secret societies, lies and mysteries from Rory's past, Free to Fall takes us on a wild ride. Rory has to figure out who is with her, who is clueless, and who is working behind the scenes and realize what about Lux and Gnosis is more than it seems. Some of it wasn't expected and others I could guess about halfway through.       I liked the romance. There was automatic chemistry and tension and I liked North, that he was different and that he challenged Rory to think for herself and open her eyes to things around her. North had so many mysteries and at times I even began to mistrust him, but the circumstances ended up only making me like and respect him even more. I think that he and Rory are good for each other. He is smart and though it seems like he is classes below her, there is definitely more under the surface and he can keep her on her toes academically as well as with real life matters.      The ending wrapped things up well for me, and I was pleased with the depth of the plot and how things unfolded.  The setting, the tech, the romance and the plot were all excellent and entertaining.  Bottom Line: Smart and easy to root for heroine. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was looking in the free books then i look it one then i whent to look at more i saw that book is not free now:( sound like a good book!!!!!!!!!!!! Plaese say how many pages is in this book????????????? (*!***!****!*IF DO THANK YOU*!***!****!:)*)! PLAESE MAKE IT FREE AGINE PLAESE