As readers of this blog know, I am a huge fan of small presses as I believe they are able to push boundaries, regardless of genre. Readers of this blog also know that I am not especially a huge fan of YA literature. I feel that the same tropes are repeated constantly: feelings are blown up to melodramatic levels, constant mentions of popular culture, use of deus ex machina and then the happy ending. However Ready to Fall is published by indie publisher Pushkin Press as part of their YA branch so I was curious to see if indie publisher YA differs from material coming out from the more mainstream presses.
It turns out that my theory is correct. Ready to Fall is, indeed, a very good book even to someone who does not like YA. Topics such as mental health and cancer are discussed. So is the concept of the social outcast and we get a dose of Shakespeare as well.
Although comparisons are cheap, I was reminded of John Green at times, except without the smugness. Pixley has a breezy flowing style and manages to actually go deep into the topic. In this case it is main protagonist Max, who believes that he has inherited the tumor that killed his mother. This phantom tumor is the root of all of Max’s problems, his bad grades, his inability to interact with his peers and when his dad transfers him to a more artsy school his problems still occur.
Max is a fully realised character, who has his good moments and bad ones but the other people in the novel are just as ‘real’ there’s Max’s love interest Fish, a girl who has a murky past and The Monk, a boy who helps Max come out of his shell but also has his own problems and there’s creative writing teacher, Mr. Cage who also tries to get Max to overcome is problems albeit in rather unconventional ways.
Obviously Max has to start to face reality and Pixley pulls this off well. The first way is through a steampunk rendition of Hamlet but then the ‘proper’ reveal is a moment filled with emotion and is well crafted. Unlike most YA novels there isn’t closure so I was pleased to see how the novel ended.
For a book of this genre I was impressed. Ready to Fall is an enjoyable read that avoids a good number of YA tropes and it further cements proof of how small presses are the future of innovative publishing.
Thank to Pushkin Press for giving me a copy in exchange for a review