Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
The Ground Will Catch You by David Powning follows Steve Hollis, a dissatisfied salesman, whose true passion in life is judo. Steve has been avoiding his passion for years, due to a violent mistake that he deeply regrets. He begins to return to the art after meeting Jack, the owner of a local dojo. However, at the same time he meets Jack, Steve also meets Emily, a sophisticated ballet dancer with whom he falls in love and who pulls him away from judo in favor of a more normal domestic life. When tragedy strikes, Steve’s loyalties and passion are tested, and he is torn between Jack and Emily and the worlds they offer.
First and foremost, Powning’s writing in The Ground Will Catch You is top-notch. The narrative style of Steve’s voice is sharp, sarcastic (when appropriate), and thoughtful. Perhaps it is Steve’s dislike of his day job and the fighting elements, but the narrative style reminds me a bit of Fight Club, in the way Steve internally mocks his coworkers at the beginning and faces every situation with bold honesty and attitude. Moreover, you can tell Powning has done his research — the descriptions of judo practices and forms are spot on and described perfectly.
Likewise, The Ground Will Catch You is full of strong characters. Each character is well-constructed and deep. They read like real people with real relationships. No one character is flawless, but no characters, even the ones who turn out to be antagonists, are so flawed that they become one-dimensional.
Personally, I think the writing and characterization are the strongest parts of The Ground Will Catch You. The story line is interesting, and the way the chapters alternate between the different parts of Steve’s life keeps the reader engaged and creates nice symmetry. However, because the novel is so relationship-focused, there are some times where the plot can be a little slow. Likewise, there are sections where plot points pass in “summary” rather than in “scene,” which can be frustrating to a reader who, like me, would have liked to see more of a situation directly from Steve’s eyes.
The end of the novel contains a few fantastic twists that I, personally, did not see coming. However, again, much of these twists are described in summary after they happen, and it would have been more engaging and clearer to see the events Steve witnessed unfold directly through his eyes. Regardless of this stylistic choice, the end of the novel is still satisfying and addresses important themes on trust and following one’s passion.
In all honesty, The Ground Will Catch You is probably not a novel I would have picked up on my own, but I am so grateful that the author sought me out for a review. The Ground Will Catch You is gorgeously written and a wonderful display of human character and the struggles individuals face in the pursuit of passion. It has everything one wants in a novel — action, love, mystery, internal struggle. I strongly recommend it.
If you are at all interest in reading The Ground Will Catch You, please pick up a copy — 10% of the proceeds go to support the fight against breast cancer.
If you are interested in reading The Ground Will Catch You and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it at my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, nor will the author receive a cent less, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.