May 24, 2014

Free to Fall Blog Tour: Author Q&A, Review + Giveaway

Welcome to my stop on the official blog tour for Lauren Miller's FREE TO FALL! Today I have a great author Q&A to share with you along with my review of the book - and don't forget to enter the tour wide giveaway! To follow the rest of the tour, click on the banner above.

Free to Fall
Author: Lauren Miller
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Dystopia
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen


What if there was an app that told you what song to listen to, what coffee to order, who to date, even what to do with your life—an app that could ensure your complete and utter happiness? What if you never had to fail or make a wrong choice?

What if you never had to fall?

Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision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 following 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.

1. What made you want to become a writer?

There wasn’t one moment when I thought, “hey, I should be a writer,” or even one experience that sparked my interest in writing. Writing has always been my thing. I think it began with a fascination with words. How they fit together in a sentence, how they look on the page, how exactly the right word can express what you’re thinking the way none other can. I was that weird kid on the school bus in second grade reading high school vocabulary books for fun, treasuring each new word I learned. Wonderment. Alacrity. Befuddlement. I think on some level I believed — and probably still do — that having a word for something brings that thing into existence. Gives life to it somehow. These days, I’m still geeking out over words and spending much too much time trying to come up with just the right one to express whatever thought I’m trying to convey.

2. What kinds of research do you do for your books?

So much! It’s important to me that my stories feel grounded in reality, even when I’m writing about something like parallel worlds or futuristic technology, so I always start with what really exists and then go a few steps further. For Parallel, this meant learning everything I could about multiverse theory, quantum mechanics, memory manipulation, and pointillist painting. Free to Fall was even more research-intensive! Thankfully, I had half a dozen experts to help me — people whose research I found online and just emailed out of the blue. Everything from a NASA astrophysicist to a cognitive behavioralist to a philosophy professor to an anonymous computer hacker. Every single one said they were happy to help out, and their input vastly improved my story. For me, the research aspect of the writing process is the most fun. Right now I’m working on a third book that has a lot of brain science in it, particularly the neuroscience of sight, so I’m gobbling up everything I can find on how visual perception works. It’s so much fun!

3. Are any of the characters in your books ever based on yourself or people you know?

Definitely. There are strains of people I know in all my characters. But it’s never a one-to-one situation. None of my characters is based on one particular friend. Rather, I take aspects of people I know and combine them to make my characters.

4. What's your favorite book and why?

If you force me to pick just one, I’ll have to go with The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy, because it’s the book that made me fall in love with reading. My mom had Prince of Tides on the shelf under her nightstand, and she told me specifically that I wasn’t old enough to read it (I was nine). So I ripped the cover off another one of her books that was the same size — Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe — and glued it over The Prince of Tides so I could read it without her knowing (apparently she imposed no age requirement on TBofV, which still makes me laugh). Maybe it was the fact that the book was forbidden fruit, but I devoured Conroy’s heartbreaking story in a matter of days. I’d already been an avid reader before that, but something changed after that book. My world sort of exploded as I realized just how many stories were out there. I haven’t read TPoT as an adult because I’m afraid I won’t love it the way I did then, and I’d rather remember it the way I do, as the book with no equal.

5. What's next for you?

I’m working on a new book, another standalone with a sci-fi twist, this one set in present day Boulder. It feels a bit more contemporary than Parallel and Free to Fall, but it has that same “is it science or is it supernatural?” question at the center of the story. I’m incredibly excited about it! 

Thanks so much for stopping by the blog and chatting with us today Lauren!

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. 


* A huge thanks to HarperTeen for sending me a copy for review! *

Connect with Lauren:
TWITTER: @LMillerWrites 

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