We All Fall Down

Farrar. (The ­River City Duology: Bk. 1). Jun. 2022. 416p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780374314323.
Gr 10 Up–Four young adults are destined to become archetypal leaders in River City, a surrealistic fantasy world where the loss of magic has devastated the land and left an opening for corruption to take hold. After escaping an abusive home life, Jesse follows a promise left on a treasured postcard and takes a chance on a bus from the mundane world to River City. Once there, they discover that they can magically shift between a masculine and feminine presentation at will. Jesse soon connects with Jack, a scrappy enforcer for a local mob boss who ruthlessly protects her own. David, a young physics professor, is determined to trace the roots of magic and discover its secrets. Meanwhile, Turing, the “daughter of the river,” is framed for murder when two police officers are killed, and her monstrous shape leads everyone to assume that she’s guilty. Although Szabo’s worldbuilding is creative and immersive, this novel suffers from uneven pacing and characterization. Excessive focus on Jack, who is up front about being “not a good person,” often weighs down the story while Jesse, David, and Turing, far more sympathetic characters, are less developed. While this novel explores complex ideas like identity, fate, and systems of oppression, it feels unfinished. The four main characters represent a wide array of gender identities, gender expressions, and sexualities. Jack and Jesse are both white while David and Turing are of mixed descent.
VERDICT An additional purchase for fans of surrealistic fantasy authors such as Kelly Link and Anna-Marie McLemore.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing