All Petre Mercy wanted was a good old-fashioned dramatic exit from his life as a prince. But it’s been five years since he fled home on a cyborg horse. Now the King—his Dad—is dead—and Petre has to decide which heir to pledge his thyroid-powered sword to.
As the youngest in a set of quadruplets, he’s all too aware that the line of succession is murky. His siblings are on the precipice of power grabs, and each of them want him to pick their side.
If Petre has any hope of preventing civil war, he’ll have to avoid one sibling who wants to take him hostage, win back another’s trust after years of rivalry and resentment, and get an audience with a sister he’s been avoiding for five years.
Before he knows it, he’s plunged himself into a web of intrigue and a world of strange, unnatural inventions just to get to her doorstep.
Family reunions can be a special form of torture.
The Fall Is All There Is is brilliant, bizarre, and utterly unique in every way. The protagonist, the world, the narrative voice, and everything else about this book is distinct and inventive. This may mean that it won’t work for every reader, but I can’t stress enough how much everyone needs to at least give it a try because I think most readers will be blown away by how good this book is.
Honestly, I don’t even know where to start with this one, so I guess the protagonist is as good a place as any. Petre is an autistic quadruplet prince. Main characters don’t get much more unique than that. Petre ran away from home 5 years ago after a complicated childhood, but with the recent death of their father the King, the oldest of the quadruplets is set to take the throne. Petre is unwillingly dragged into a succession crisis and has to navigate the very conflict and political intrigue that he ran away to avoid. The premise alone is captivating enough but Petre is the real shining star. The book is first-person and single-POV, meaning we are riding in Petre’s head the whole time, and that is one wild ride. From the first page Petre’s voice drew me into the story and kept me reading far too late into the night. The book is written in past tense, and we are continuously getting commentary from Petre about the unfolding events, and while certainly not a comedy, I couldn’t help but chuckle at times at the places Petre’s mind went, the long-winded explanations, and the analogies he tried, and often failed, to make work. Petre’s narration took an already great story and made it truly excellent.
I would be remiss not to mention that between all the fighting and political intrigue, there is deep exploration of several themes in The Fall Is All There Is. Petre has a complicated relationship with pretty much his whole family. This is partly due to his autism as well as being a quadruplet, throw in the fact that the four of them are royalty and you can see why it could get messy. There is a lot of inter-sibling fighting but underneath it all the love they have for each other is evident and always shines through. I also enjoyed the autistic representation, seeing the world through Petre’s eyes as well as how others see him. Caplan does an excellent job of showing how Petre thinks differently than those around him in a way that is both omnipresent but never beating you over the head with it.
The world the book takes place in is also unlike anything I’ve ever read. Imagine just about any sub-genre and it’s probably featured in here somewhere. We don’t get a lot of history but from what we do know there have been 2 apocalypses in the ancient past. The first from experimentation with magic, the second from technology. The combination of these has left current civilization in an interesting mixture of modern and ancient civilization. Animals are virtually extinct and plant life was transformed after the first apocalypse, so you have things like forests of concrete trees or flowers with tongues for petals. They also have lightsabers that use human thyroids for batteries and sonic guns powered by vocal cords. So yeah, the worldbuilding is awesome, but it is also subtle. Both the worldbuilding and the plot of the book are never explained upfront, the reader pieces them along as the story progresses. It was handled quite well and never left me feeling more confused than Petre was.
I was pretty confident I would enjoy this book but very quickly I was shocked by just how much I loved it. It instantly goes into favorites of the year category and even though it’s not out yet I need the sequel immediately. The ending was satisfying but also opened up more secrets and potential conflicts that I can’t wait to explore further. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, if you’ve read this far, go pick this book up and see for yourself.