Synopsis: The artificially intelligent Gods that ruled the galaxy, fearing heresy and chaos, have become the planet’s jailers. Tiv Hunt once trusted these Gods absolutely, but now her world has changed and her allegiance has shifted. Now Tiv spends her days helping the remaining survivors of Jai.
The Fallen is a satisfying sequel to The Outside. Writer Ada Hoffmann has drawn equally from X-Men, 2000 A.D. and the Final Fantasy series. Additionally, there is some exceptional neurodiverse representation. After using the powers of the Outside, a dimension beyond our comprehension, to alter reality on the planet Jai, Yasira, the protagonist of the previous book. Has fallen into a deep depression. Tiv, Yasira’s girlfriend and The Fallen’s protagonist, leads a group of freedom fighters.
A brave new world
The action takes place in the Chaos Zone. A region where Yasira’s miracle has fundamentally altered the nature of reality. We see some very gritty and true to life depictions of ordinary people. Being oppressed and killed by a fascistic occupying force. The angels. Servants of the AI Gods that control humanity. Nevertheless, Tiv attempts to keep her movement non-violent and help as many people as she can. This causes tension between her and the other Seven. A neurodiverse team of revolutionaries who each have special abilities. Indeed, Tiv’s kindness and desire to help shine through most strongly during her interactions with the Seven.
All is not as it seems, however. Akavi, one of the main antagonists, is manipulating Luellae of the Seven. So he can assassinate Yasira. Akavi’s villainy comes through in his manipulations of Luellae, Enga and Akavi’s subordinate Elu. Speaking of Elu, I enjoyed his character arc which seemed to tease a face turn for him. As Elu becomes a healer of sorts for the Chaos Zone’s people. Without giving too much away the young junior angel appears to fall back into his cowardly ways, but not without a glimmer of hope at the book’s end.
Significantly, we see that Yasira now has a condition known as plurality. Without being an expert, what this means in story terms is that there are many fragments of Yasira inside her mind that argue with each other on the best course of action. A particularly heartwarming moment is when Yasira says to Tiv “Everyone in here who can love, loves you.”
Hoffmann excels at this juxtaposition of mind-bending sci-fi and intimate human moments. Yasira ultimately decides to act by tracking down the gone people. Whose minds have been permanently altered by Outside exposure. Saviour (as the Chaos Zone people call Yasira) discovers that the gone people are planning to perform a similar miracle to her own.
Battle lines are drawn
Yasira, Tiv and the Seven co-ordinate with the Chaos Zone refugees to rise up against their oppressors. This put me strongly in mind of Samantha Shannon‘s Bone Season series. As well as the Buffy series 3 finale. Tiv’s true love uses her Outside powers to shield the gone people from the angels’ military might. While the other Seven use their powers to aid the revolution happening across other cities. After a tense and nerve-wracking campaign, the angels are defeated and Jai is made more hospitable. In a massive wham line, the angels leave the Chaos Zone people to the mercy of the Keres, the Gods’ ancient enemies.
The Fallen is brimming with excellent neurodiverse representation. Particularly affecting was Enga’s backstory. As the reader sees a callous neurotypical in Omhon prey on a trusting neurodivergent, ruining her life. Equally poignant was Elu’s story. Showing us that the system presumed he would succeed because he was academically capable. For me personally, this really hit home. However, there is much positive representation. To be found here. I adored this line “Tiv understood that people’s minds could take different shapes, and they could still be important and worthy of love.” There is a good portrayal of a found family in the Seven, who help and support each other and recognise each other’s needs. I found that Yasira’s struggles with her mental health rang true for me. As did Tiv’s overwhelm in the Morlock museum. I’d say that anyone who wants to learn more about neurodiversity should read this book.
The Fallen is a deeply rewarding read. It gives you that classic sci-fi feeling and makes you care about its characters. Its neurodiverse representation is satisfying and masterfully embedded within the story. I couldn’t find any flaws as I was reading the book because it held my attention throughout. I would strongly recommend this to sci-fi fans and non-fans alike.
- Cover Art8.5