Review: Fault Line by Christa Desir

17 September, 2013 Reviews 26 comments

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Fault Line by Christa DesirFault Line by Christa Desir
Series: Standalone
Published by Simon Pulse on October 1st 2013
Pages: 240
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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four-half-stars

Ben could date anyone he wants, but he only has eyes for the new girl — sarcastic free-spirit, Ani. Luckily for Ben, Ani wants him too. She’s everything Ben could ever imagine. Everything he could ever want.

But that all changes after the party. The one Ben misses. The one Ani goes to alone.

Now Ani isn’t the girl she used to be, and Ben can’t sort out the truth from the lies. What really happened, and who is to blame?

Ben wants to help her, but she refuses to be helped. The more she pushes Ben away, the more he wonders if there’s anything he can do to save the girl he loves.

Sometimes when I hear of professional critics or other authors looking down on the YA genre, I can’t help but to shake my head and pity them. “The Young Adult genre is for kids!” they cry. “There’s no depth!” they exclaim. And then I read a book like Fault Line and it’s clear that those people have no idea what they’re talking about. What other genre is able to connect so deeply with people of all ages? What other genre can push the limits as much as YA does and have us re-evaluate the way we see the world through the eyes our childhood we may have long moved past?

Fault Line is not an easy book to read. It’s raw, gritty and dark, but it’s important. It doesn’t tell a new story or one we’re unfamiliar with. It highlights a situation in a way that really forces the reader to address the effects of how our society has dealt with rape and how it continues to shape how we view the victim. For me, Fault Line really resonated and made me cry. This will be a book that lingers.

Ben meets Ani and is immediately smitten with her. Her blunt and straightforward personality is not something he’s used to and causes him to keep on his toes. Much of the book’s first half focuses on their romance and relationship. Their first date, awkward feelings, first kiss. It’s sweet the way they fall for each other. You can tell they both care for each other deeply and it eventually develops into love. They’re just normal teens, doing what normal teens do.

Unfortunately, all of this unravels after Ani attends a party Ben decides not to go to and the consequences of that night changes everyone. At the party, Ani is gang raped by a group of guys and left passed out with no recollection of the event of the night. In the aftermath, she is left broken, a former shell of the girl she used to be, unable to move past the traumatic experience.

Ben and Kate, the friend who was with her at the party, are guilt-ridden as they are plagued with the what-ifs and could-have-beens. Ben blames himself for not attending the party with Ani. Kate blames herself for not keeping a better eye on her best friend. And Ani. Ani blames herself and everyone, and in the process, losses her self-worth and identity.

This book was so incredibly written. Sure Fault Line could have been written from Ani’s perspective, but it would have lost Ben’s obsession with fixing Ani, his horror of seeing is girlfriend self-destruct and the domino effect it had on his own life and family relationships. His narration is not always comfortable as he says things or does things that he doesn’t mean. However, it was so realistic because he’s just a kid, trying desperately to protect and help heal Ani.

Ani and Ben’s character development is not going to work for everyone. There’s no doubt that her and Ben’s life spirals out of control. Ani, who was once the talented artist and jewelry creator, barely smiles and suffers from Rape Trauma Syndrome. Ben, who has the promising future as swimmer and a potential scholarship, can no longer muster up the motivation to get in a pool and becomes obsessed. These characters do develop, just in the most heartbreaking way possible.

It’s going to confuse some readers and anger others. But it’s also going to raise important questions on victim-blaming, a central theme of the novel. Who is to blame for Ani’s attack? Is it Ben for not going to the party? Kate for not protecting her friend when she thought something was wrong? Or is Ani the one to blame for consuming alcohol? For making out with guys, table dancing, announcing to the crowd she would hook-up with the guys? Did all those things make her rapable?

These questions don’t surprise me and they do show up in one form of another from Ben, Ani herself and the student body. But they are only a distraction from the real issue, because victim-blaming serves only one purpose: it takes the blame away from the one person who deserves it the most, the rapist.

“I heard one of them say something to his friend like ‘We’re gonna love this ride’ when he was going upstairs with her.”

This is, unfortunately, how our society works. All one has to do is look at the most recent rape cases in the media. Just think about what happened with the Steubenville, Ohio rape case. The victim-blaming was astounding. “Oh, she was drunk. She doesn’t even remember, how does she know she was raped. She was asking for it. She agreed to it.” Ani’s situation isn’t so different.

I think about this book and then I think about all the other women out there whose story I don’t know or hadn’t heard because she was too afraid or chose not to speak up or the attack was covered up. As a community and society, we generally suck when it comes to crimes against women and seeking justice for victims.

“Although the police are investigating the party, chances are, they won’t pursue it.”

Instead, we reason it away: Maybe she was confused. She was drunk. She probably wanted it.

“Could’ve been roofies, though. I’ve seen chicks act like that when they’re buzzing on Special K. There was a bunch of E going around at the party too.”

“Ani, it’s still considered rape if you weren’t fully conscious. You didn’t really make those decisions. You have to be sober to consent.”

And make excuses: Maybe she had a history of doing what she did? Maybe she was just “one of those girls.”

“I’m not really a jump-in-the-sack-after-the-first-month kind of girl.”

Blame other parties: Maybe it’s just how she was raised. Probably a broken family or the parents weren’t involved in her life.

“When you asked me to have sex with you, I thought I should get her opinion on the whole thing. I knew I wanted to, but we’d only been going out for like a month and sometimes my judgement gets a little skewed by your sexy baldness.”

“I figured my mom might help me see through all the hormone drama so I could look at things rationally.”

Sympathize with the rapist: But the guys who were with her were equally drunk! They didn’t know what they were doing because they were wasted, too.

“Yeah, a couple of guys came down talking about the show. They were the ones who called her the hot little Manhole.”

(Interesting how they were sober enough to remember it, tell their friends and brag.)

But again, why do those things even matter? How are saying any of these things better than Todd Akin’s “Legitimate Rape” comment? It isn’t. But this is how things are. This is how society deals with rape cases in the media. We feel like we just don’t know enough to call it rape. And while we sit around in our comfortable, familiar skins debating an incident we were miles and worlds away from, victims and their families suffer. This is the reality.

But Fault Line is not a grandiose mystery novel where the main character sets out to discover the truth of that night. Its focus is on how Ben and Ani cope in the aftermath of her attack. It’s about a victim struggling to reclaim her herself. It’s about feeling powerless with helping the person you love, watching how one situation ruins a person to the point where they aren’t the same anymore and might never be again. What do you do? Run away? Tell someone the secret that’s not yours to tell? Stand by that person when it seems they don’t even want you around anymore? There are no easy answers.

I should warn readers that this book does not have a happy ending. In fact, some will find it very unsatisfying because of its openness. However, I found it very realistic. The road to Ani’s recovery would most likely be hard and long and the novel ends with her at her worst. I’d like to think she eventually gets better, but that doesn’t always happen in situations like this.

If I have one negative thing to say, it’s on the prologue. It didn’t think it was necessary and detracted from the final scene in the novel. View Spoiler »

To conclude:

This is going to be The Book That Divides. Personal views and experiences are bound to play a factor in how each reader receives Fault Line. Some people are going to love Ani, while others will hate her. Some may question the incident, while others will strongly connect with it. Some are going to question Ben’s actions, while others applaud. Either way, Desir has us talking and with a topic that is so very misunderstood, that’s never a bad thing.

Highly recommended for older teens and joint reading for younger teens with their parents.

ARC was received via Edelweiss from the publisher. Thank you!

Steph Sinclair

Steph Sinclair

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
I'm a bibliophile trying to make it through my never-ending To-Be-Read list, equal opportunity snarker and fangirl, YA Books Central editor and co-blogger here at Cuddlebuggery. Find me on GoodReads.
Steph Sinclair
Alonso the Drunken Unicorn: Rebound Books https://t.co/izYIwrf4lP #CuddlebuggeryArchive - 6 hours ago

26 Responses to “Review: Fault Line by Christa Desir”

  1. meg.

    This one slipped by me but sounds really interesting, full of things I like to get really angry about. I’m officially intrigued.

  2. thesireniccodex
    Twitter:

    You’ve made me add this book to my must reads. Fantastic review. I feel like this is a subject that is hard to discuss but needs more attention, even if it makes people uncomfortable. Rape happens way too often to remain oblivious to it.

  3. WanderlustBooks

    Quick question: If I read this, should I bypass the prologue? I didn’t read your spoiler, so I’m not sure what it detracts from, but would you recommend skipping it?

  4. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    Dear Steph,

    Guess who can read your review now?

    Tom Hanks!

    Okay, no, that’s a lie. It’s me. Weeeee!

    The amount that I loved early book Ani’s personality is pretty intense. She reminds me a bit of Jaye from Wonderfalls, which is a very good thing. Jaye did that “let’s get the first kiss over now so you’re not nervous” thing too. Gah, so hot. Also, maybe I need to do that, because I always end up waiting too long and then just being like no. But that is off topic.

    He does say a lot of things he doesn’t mean, but he would have been so completely unrealistic if he didn’t. When you’re being treated like shit, you’re going to act out probably and you’ll definitely be saying some choice things to the person in your mind, even if you get why they’re doing it.

    I shipped them a lot, but he also wasn’t at fault and didn’t deserve that at all. I love Ben for trying, but he’s too young to have to carry that burden. If they were married, maybe. But she didn’t want help yet. I so badly want to play out different scenarios. If he’d slept with her when she first asked, would that have helped? If he’d not reacted so poorly to the gossip and name-calling, would she have avoided that downward spiral? What if he’d not put the idea of sex as a “cure” back into her head? Obviously, I don’t think it’s his fault, but the way a single act can completely change everything is so chilling and terrifying. It’s no wonder I avoid human interaction. We’re so weak and breakable.

    Desir’s novel is brilliant in my opinion, largely because it does provoke discussion. Jenni and Giselle may have hated it, which is their prerogative and I even get where they’re coming from to a large degree, but they REMEMBER it. Unlike some of the books I read a couple of days ago that are already slipping out of my brain. Readers will remember it and want to discuss it. That’s some serious shit.

    Love you,

    Christina
    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…Review: Fault LineMy Profile

  5. 2014: Year of the Buggery | Cuddlebuggery Book Blog

    […] Fault Line by Christa Desir This book haunted me! I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did, but it tore at my feels. I try to avoiding books I know will leaving me sobbing in a corner, but I just couldn’t resist and I’m so glad I didn’t. This is probably one of the most heartbreaking books I’ve read this year. […]

  6. megan

    im doing an isu on this novel and i was wondering if yoou can help me out on what the message is of the novel.

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