“You just boarded a flight to New York. There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard. What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped. For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die. The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane. Enjoy the flight.”
-Synopsis from inside front cover
Falling is a whirlwind of a novel that left me speechless. I read this book in about two days, though I know some readers who read it in less time. I can now see why that is, and I probably would have done the same if time permitted.
The story takes place over the course of one day, from the morning that pilot Bill Hoffman leaves his home in Los Angeles and heads to Los Angeles International Airport to pilot a flight that he was called in for at the last minute. We meet the flight crew, including Bill and his First Officer along with the flight attendants, and get a behind-the-scenes look at all the preparations that take place before a flight takes off. Meanwhile at Bill’s home, a life or death situation has taken place and Bill isn’t made aware of it until he’s up in the air with his one hundred forty-three passengers.
“This was not a scenario he had ever anticipated. This was not a threat he had considered and discussed with his colleagues. There was no page in the manual to reference, no protocol to put in place, no checklist to run. All his training seemed embarrassingly naive, now. Safeguards and redundancies were devised for actual attacks on the flight deck…Was he even worthy of wearing the uniform? Had he ever been?”from Falling by T.J. Newman
This story is told through multiple viewpoints including Bill, his wife, one of the flight attendants, and other characters who become important as the story goes on. I was riveted from the prologue, at which point the story leaps off the page from there.
I enjoyed this read so much because my mind was racing the entire time trying to figure out what would happen. Not only is there conflict taking place on the ground with Bill’s family, but also on the plane amongst the crew.
“Aviate, navigate, communicate. Aviate – fly the plane. Navigate – know where you’re going. Communicate – talk to who you need to about what you need to. It’s usually not a problem to do all three. But in an emergency? You do what you can.”from Falling by T.J. Newman
The flight attendants played a huge role in the story, illustrating how closely together they work with the pilot and First Officer, and the immense level of trust that they place in one another respectively from the moment they board the plane. The reader does not have to have worked as a flight attendant to immediately be placed in their shoes and feel the weight of every decision they have to make during the course of the flight.
At no point did I think I knew what would happen next. Every chapter brought a new twist, a new complication to the story that had me questioning how the characters would cope. It seemed that every time they got one step closer, a new development would set them back with seemingly impossible odds.
Falling is one of my favorite reads from this year so far. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys an incredibly fast-paced thriller with real-world scenarios.