Falling Under

Falling Under - Gwen Hayes I'll admit a personal bias in terms of loving Gwen Hayes writing - she has a wonderful sense of humor and attention to character detail, and I've enjoyed a number of her self-pubbed stories, especially in the realistic fiction realm. So when I heard she was releasing her first full YA novel, I jumped at the chance to read it, even moreso knowing she'd penned an urban fantasy/paranormal romance, despite how common/popular the genres become in recent years. But reading "Falling Under", an alternate, modern retelling of Persephone's descent, did have some heavy derivative elements that have populated the genre as late, and the beginning is really slow. Dark mysterious boy (Haden) who's obviously a bad influence on said girl (Theia) despite repeated warnings. Yet, aforementioned girl and boy do not want to separate, desperate to be together, and will go at great lengths to try to tempt their fate.What makes it stand above the crowd, however, is her use of humor and dark, animated imagery (dancing skeletons, anyone?). Even in areas where one can see where the plot's going, Hayes doesn't hesitate to poke fun at the events from time to time and have the characters be very self-aware. The characters themselves are well crafted, especially the supporting cast. Theia does seem a bit two-dimensional, but as she begins to change with the events of the story, she becomes a much more interesting character to watch, and it leads into an intriguing place that makes a good jumping point for a sequel. I personally had a partial like/venomous hatred for Haden because he acts like a jerk to Theia, working all kinds of angles to make her jealous and/or hate him, while denying how he truly feels about her. I think that's intentional, but it still made my teeth grind against each other and I feel like many YA paranormal romance novels would be better off if they didn't follow this formula, but...*shrugs*.I'm definitely interested in reading the next novel in this series to see where it goes, but recommending this novel registers a more lukewarm reaction from me. I think paranormal romance fans and those who enjoy reinterpretations of myths will like it, but I warn that it is a very derivative story with only some sparks that set it apart. As long as you're not expecting too much, it's enjoyable.Nice audiobook readings from Lucy Rayner and Dan Bittner. I don't think the narrations in themselves enhanced my enjoyment of the book in particular, but they were good for getting into the voices of the characters.Overall score: 3/5