(Image from Barnes & Noble)
If you had the ability to steal pieces of a person without them knowing it, what would you take? Would you pull out their bad memories, their anxiety, their fears? Would you steal a little of their sobriety, a tiny bit of their fearlessness, a little affection? How would these thefts affect you? How would the victims' losses affect them?
Aspen Quick has never thought much about his ability to snatch people's most intimate possessions. The 17-year-old just uses it to his advantage when he needs a shot of courage, a bit of help with a girl he likes, or a wave of calm to soothe his nerves. He knows his family's unique magic is ancient and important—after all, it's what's always kept Three Peaks, New York, safe from the cliff that looms over the quaint little town. If his family didn't perform their secret rituals to hold back the danger, everyone in the hamlet would be buried under a sea of massive boulders. Surely, that massive effort balances out the small thefts he performs from time to time. It's his special right, isn't it?
When Aspen meets Leah Ramsey-Wolfe, he's intrigued with the bookish loner. He becomes even more fascinated with her when he realizes she's the only person he's ever met who's immune to his reaching. This epiphany leads Aspen to more startling revelations about his family's magic, its true potency, and the disastrous effects of unbridled greed and unlimited power. As Aspen's eyes are opened to the truth, he must ask himself what it really means to be a good person. And if he's brave enough to face answers that will change everything.
I can't remember where I first heard about Rocks Fall Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar, but its premise has intrigued me ever since. Its very appealing billing—"Twin Peaks meets Stars Hollow"—drew me in even more. From these clues, I expected to absolutely adore this quirky paranormal adventure. That didn't exactly happen, but I did find Rocks Fall Everyone Dies an intriguing read that asks important questions about how we treat other human beings, how we wield our own unique power, and how far we're willing to go to redeem ourselves. Aspen is a selfish, manipulative character, which makes it somewhat difficult to connect with him. As his eyes are opened, though, he becomes more sympathetic and it's easier to root for his success. The magical world in which he is enveloped is fresh and intriguing, definitely different than the usual YA fare. With plenty of twists, the plot moves along quickly, making the novel a fast, engrossing read. The teenage cast members seemed a little too world-weary for me, as did their very cavalier attitudes about sex, drinking, etc. Maybe those outlooks stem from the fact that they never had any adult supervision whatsoever? The story's abrupt ending also irked me a tad. I don't know if a sequel is in the works or not, but the tale felt unfinished—at least in some ways—to me. Bottom line on this bad boy? I liked Rocks Fall Everyone Dies, just didn't love it like I wanted to.
(Readalikes: Reminded me of Don't You Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn and a little of Bruiser by Neal Shusterman)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for language (no F-bombs), violence, depictions of underage drinking, and mild sexual innuendo/ content