Title: We All Fall Down
Author: Robert Cormier
First published January 1, 1991
208 pages, Paperback
ISBN: 9780440215561 (ISBN10: 0440215560)
For three thousand years, humanity has been enslaved by Those Above – a race of superhuman beings who are tall, strong, and near immortal. They rule from their glittering palaces in the eternal city at the center of the world, enforcing their will with fire and sword.
But the whispers of rebellion are growing louder, fueled by a woman who has dedicated her life to revenge, a general who has tasted victory against the superhumans, and a boy killer who rises from the gutters to lead an uprising in the capital. Though hope died in a battle twenty-five years ago, hatred has never waned, and the oppressed are ready to fight back.
Will this new revolt finally bring freedom to humanity, or will it end in even greater tragedy?
About the Author
Robert Edmund Cormier was an accomplished American author, columnist, and reporter who gained recognition for his dark and melancholic literature. His books, such as I Am the Cheese, After the First Death, We All Fall Down, and The Chocolate War, have received numerous awards, although The Chocolate War faced challenges in various libraries.
Cormier frequently explores themes of abuse, mental illness, violence, revenge, betrayal, and conspiracy. Interestingly, his protagonists are often met with defeat, rather than victory.
We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier, is a visceral and haunting exploration of the effects of vandalism and violence on a small community. Cormier is no stranger to tackling tough topics in his young adult novels, and We All Fall Down is a prime example of his ability to dive into the complexities of human relationships and motivations.
Set in the late 1980s, the novel centers around a group of teenage boys who raid a house in a wealthy neighborhood, causing significant damage and leaving behind a trail of destruction. The novel is divided into three distinct sections: “The Avenger,” “The Circus,” and “The Burn,” each of which provides a unique perspective on the events that transpire.
The cast of characters is expansive, but Cormier manages to give each one distinct personality traits and motivations. The standout is Harry Flowers, a middle-aged man who stumbles upon the aftermath of the raid and becomes consumed with finding the culprits.
Harry’s broken relationship with his own son adds a layer of poignancy to his journey, as he becomes increasingly desperate to find a sense of meaning and purpose in his life. One of the strengths of We All Fall Down is Cormier’s ability to weave together multiple storylines and perspectives without losing focus.
The pacing is tight and the prose is sparse, which makes the brutal events that unfold all the more impactful. The haunting climax of the novel is sure to stay with readers long after the final page has been turned.
However, there are moments where Cormier’s bleak view of human nature can feel overwhelming. The characters are all flawed in some way, and the moments of moral ambiguity can be difficult to stomach.
But the author’s unflinching approach to the material also makes the moments of redemption all the more powerful. In terms of historical and cultural significance, We All Fall Down feels especially relevant in the current climate of social unrest and economic inequality.
The book tackles issues of privilege and power head-on, and shows how small acts of vandalism can quickly escalate into acts of violence when societal tensions are high. Overall, We All Fall Down is a deeply affecting and thought-provoking novel that will stick with readers long after they’ve finished it.
While it may not be for everyone, those who are willing to dive into Cormier’s dark and complex world will find themselves richly rewarded. 4 out of 5 stars.