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.
As Fault Line is Christa Desir’s debut novel, I hadn’t heard about her or this book until a few weeks ago. Reading the description about the book tells you that something happens to Ani, the girlfriend of the main character, Ben, at a party that he doesn’t go to. Without knowing much about the author’s background, almost ANYTHING could have happened to Ani, and Desir takes a few chapters to get into the drama that is the rest of the story after the party. The first chapter is a partial of the final chapter, and while it helps set us up for the devastation that becomes inevitable for Ani, it kind of takes away from the depth of the problem as it builds in the body of the story.
Our main character, Ben, is a 17 year old guy on the swim team who meets Ani, the new girl in town, at a gas station at the end of the summer. From the instant Ben sets eyes on her, he’s fascinated with her, and he immediately puts her up on this pedestal of how amazing she is and how he already feels the need to protect her from other guys, even the friends he’s sitting with at the gas station. My first impression of Ben is neither positive or negative. I haven’t read a contemporary novel with a male POV in a while, so I guess I just wasn’t expecting Ben to seem so immature and not very well put together. But this reminded me that at 17, even though I was a girl, I can remember how disjointed my thoughts and actions were, and how the opposite sex ruled the majority of them. I gave Ben a chance, and he surprised me. Ani seemed like a wild card, and as we only have Ben’s POV throughout the story, I felt we lose a bit of a connection we’re supposed to develop with Ani. His relationship with Ani as it progressed over a few months seemed fast paced, and while it seemed disjointed, it felt real. Time flies when you’re having fun, and it also flies when you’re just not paying attention. Ben started focusing more of his time and himself to Ani, and his dedication to swimming faltered. This is understandable, as when you find someone to spend time with, it makes you feel good and you can’t get enough. But it also foreshadowed the negative to come… and I was dreading when “the party” that the summary talks about would happen.
For whatever reason (I can’t recall Ben having one), Ben doesn’t go to the party that Ani goes to with her new friend Kate. The next day, Ben receives a call from Kate about Ani being in the hospital and how Ani didn’t want him to know she was there, but Kate didn’t know who else to call. This begins the downward spiral for Ben and Ani, as a couple, and as two individuals lost among assumptions, lies, and expectations. Ani, as you could expect after sexual assault, withdraws from her life and becomes a shell of her old self which upsets Ben and launches his mind set into undertaking the revival of Ani and how to save her. Ben tries all these different avenues; attending meetings and reading online forums but none seem to work for him or Ani. We get to see Ben unravel as he is understandably confused, frustrated, and stressed that he can’t figure out how to be the knight in shining armor to Ani’s distressed damsel. What’s disappointing in this story is that I couldn’t connect enough with Ani prior to “the party,” and I wasn’t able to fully sympathize with her when she started going downhill and dragging Ben with her. There were plenty of times I didn’t want to feel bad for Ben because he was acting so blind to everything Ani was doing behind his back, even when it was blindingly obvious to everyone around him. It definitely gave me a better understanding of how a situation looks when you’re so closely involved you can’t distinguish the lies from the truth. While I was torn with my lack of connection with Ani, I definitely felt miserable at the end no matter how abrupt it was. I wanted a better resolution, but the lack of one reiterates the fact that not everything has a happy ending and life is a work in progress. Stories with open endings leave a lot to be imagined, and with contemporaries it’s more annoying for me because it’s closer to reality than an open ended dystopia or science fiction story.
Fault Line is the first of Christa Desir’s novels and her next novel is scheduled to come out sometime in 2014, which I’ll definitely consider checking it out as it gets closer to release. I wish there had been a few chapters in the POV of Ani, as we only got to see Ani through Ben’s eyes, but I was sucked into the downward spiral of Ben’s life enough to be affected by the story and cry for half an hour after I finished reading. Desir has a pretty spot on young narrative voice that made me think back to my formative years and I look forward to seeing more.
My Over All Rating: