Friday, November 12, 2021

Review: Falling

Falling Falling by T.J. Newman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This seems to exemplify the very concept of an ‘airport novel’, but there’s a couple of problems with that. First, who’d want to read this while they were actually on a plane? Second, it’s just not very good.

Captain Bill Hoffman is an airline pilot, a husband, a father, and all around good guy who is flying a plane full of people from LA to New York. Unfortunately, a terrorist has taken his family hostage, and now Bill faces a horrible choice. He either uses a poison gas canister to kill the passengers and then crash the plane, or his family will be killed.

That’s a pretty intriguing set-up, and the author, a former flight attendant, has a lot of detailed knowledge to keep the premise going for a while. Unfortunately, the whole thing collapses under the weight of bad plotting and paper thin characters.

There’s a couple of things that I just couldn’t get past. Like if Bill is supposed to crash the plane, why does he also have to gas the passengers? How many times do you have to kill these people? The reason is to introduce a subplot about the flight crew trying to find a way to save them while Bill plays cat & mouse with the terrorist from the locked cockpit. While that provides some of the more interesting details about planes and procedures, it also doesn’t make a lick of sense.

Another thing is that in a post 9/11 world, it pushes the suspension of disbelief far past the breaking point to think that the US government wouldn’t immediately shoot down an airliner with a compromised captain once the situation becomes known. There’s also a real humdinger of a fundamental flaw that will make you ask why the terrorists bother with the whole kidnapping scheme anyway, and the book’s only answer is some goobledy-gook of wanting Bill, as an average American, to have to make a choice.

Although some effort is made to give the terrorists some real world justifications as to why they’re so angry, the rest of the cast is pretty much standard issue good-people-who-stand-together-in-the-face-of-adversity, and I’m sorry but as somebody living in America in 2021, I know that’s just complete bullshit.

I was intrigued at the start, but the book lost me quickly, and after that I mainly read it just to heckle the stupidity.

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