FREE FALL by Joyce Sweeney


Age Range: 12 & up
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 Four teenagers lost in a Florida cave for 24 hours spill their souls in this wordy, unevenly paced adventure. Off with his best friend, Randy, to explore a reported cave in the nearby national forest, Neil grudgingly allows his brother, David, and David's best friend, Terry, to tag along. They don't know what they're doing--Terry doesn't even bring a flashlight--and are soon lost, with scant supplies and no idea what to do next. From the beginning, it's obvious that no one (reader included) is going to have any fun; David and Randy have uncontrollable tempers and are at each other's throats from the first scene, Terry whines that they should never have let a jerk like him come along, and Neil hides his claustrophobia behind a cold, silent facade. All four eventually divulge secrets, but the revelations are either anticlimactic or undeveloped tangents. The characters speak in either sour-sounding put-downs or artificially coherent psychological insights, and aside from a sudden encounter with a rattlesnake there's little action or dramatic tension in the plot until the climax. In the end, Neil learns how to be more open about his feelings, and David, in convenient atonement for the fire he caused two years ago that resulted in the death of their younger sister, gets to rescue everyone. More confessional fiction than a survival story, this is likely to disappoint readers expecting another riveter like Sweeney's Shadow (1994). (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-385-32211-9
Page count: 228pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1996


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