The Fall by Anthony McGowan

10394461The Fall by Anthony McGowan
Barrington Stoke
69 pages
 Realistic Fiction
MG, Short Story
How I obtained the book:


Mog and his mates are bored. Their school’s a dump – the type of place kids get expelled to. Their lives seem pointless. The most exciting thing they do is jump over the beck: the polluted stream at the back of the school. And it’s there that two separate events occur which will change Mog’s life forever…


THE FALL is a short story narrated by a middle-aged man who received a call from an old friend saying how their middle school/high school friend has passed. This accounts for around 10% of the story, the rest being a flashback.

My main problem with THE FALL is there isn’t really a central plot, it’s just a seemingly random and uneventful few weeks in this guy’s life. These weeks supposedly changed his life forever but from what I can see, there are no life changing moments in THE FALL.

I’ve read some really amazing short stories in which the world building, plot, and characters were well defined and beautiful. As a consequence, I have started to expect only the best from my short stories. This one however broke that streak with its utterly terrible prose and story.

What really made THE FALL the worst short I’ve read is the lack of finesse to it. The writing felt like a really bad 6th grader’s homework assignment. It was choppy, bland, and forced. I’m just glad that there were only around 100 – 150 pages otherwise I would have DNF’ed it.

The blurb promises a “dark and rebellious read” but in fact, there was nothing neither dark nor rebellious about this book. The plot was uneventful and basically revolved around how amazing this one guy, Chris is. There are around two chapters that are solely devoted to how everyone worships Chris.

After those few chapters, we get to see how the main character, who’s name I am uncertain of (Mog I think), does everything for Chris and even though Chris is rude to him, they’re besets buds forever. Erm, okay then. The other chapters are about how Chris really wants to pick up his big brother’s crossbow and for a few chapters, they’re just debating whether or not to pick it up. In the end, they decide to go out to the woods with the crossbow and Mog accidentally kills a fox. The end.

… oook then. In the epilogue, it is stated that killing the fox ruined Mog’s life forever but how? How did any of the events in the story ruin his life? They’re not life-ruining things! He killed a fox. That’s sad and all but does killing a fox ruin your life? In any way? Nope, not really.

The characters were undefined blobs really. I couldn’t tell the difference between them. There’s the popular-not-popular kid and then a bunch on nobodies with no personality or defining qualities.

Yes, I understand that in 150 pages (or so), it’s hard to define your characters but um, how do lower MG books do it? Or other short stories? It is possible to have a short story with well-rounded characters.

The writing was simplistic to an extent that it was basically “Bob walked down the stairs. Bob said hi. Bob walked away.” That’s really how it felt but it in the short, it was more like: “Bob walked down the stairs. Bob said “Hey!” Bob walked away.

I wouldn’t recommend this short story to anyone because it’s physically painful to read. I can’t really recommend any other shorts at this reading level but definitely not this one.


4 thoughts on “The Fall by Anthony McGowan

  1. Anthony McGowan says:

    A couple of points. Firstly, finding out the number of pages in a book really isn’t very hard. You go to the last page, look at the bottom, and see what it says. In The Fall there are 69 pages, not 100-150. Secondly, no one says ‘motherfucker’ or anything like it in the book. Otherwise, I can see you engaged fully with the text and used all your considerable literary skills to analyse it. I can see you having a major career on the New Yorker.
    But, in all seriousness, thanks for your comments, and I hope that next time you find a book you like.

    • Lisbeth Avery says:

      As I stated at the beginning of the review, I obtained this book from NetGalley and I was reading on my Kindle, where I was unable to find the amount of pages. Neither your book’s Netgalley page nor your book’s GoodReads page had any information about the number of pages so I had to estimate it. It is now fixed.

      As I am going over the reviews, I feel that I may have missed certain aspects of your book and I have decided to reread your book. Thank you for your comment and for reading my review.

  2. Anthony McGowan says:

    Hi Lisbeth – sorry, missed the point about it being an ebook. And sorry about my snarky reply. The truth is it always stings when someone doesn’t like a book you’ve written, but I do genuinely feel we’re all entitled to our own views and yours is as valid as anyone’s. The Fall was written for British teenagers who were looking for relatively adult themes, expressed in simple language – the publisher aims its books at dyslexic kids and others who struggle a little with language. I wanted it to be an intense and poetic read, full of tragedy and sadness, but also capturing some of the excitement and joy of being a teenager. Again, I’m sorry if it didn’t hit the spot for you. But thanks for bothering to write down your opinions – the world of books needs readers like you.
    Best wishes

    Anthony McGowan

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