Where She Fell
Eliza is an aspiring geologist and self-professed 'nerd'. Even though she feels like the odd one out, Eliza tries hard to appease her two best friends Sherri and Meg. When her friends drag her with them to a swamp on a dare, she goes. Eliza's knows about the town's urban legend of missing people who have fallen into sinkholes in the swamp. Still she goes with Sherri and Meg. Once there though, Eliza's worse fears come true. After she falls into the sinkhole, she finds a world right out of a Jules Verne novel. She encounters other survivors who have built an underground colony. She's in wonder at everything around her. Yet she has an overwhelming urge to find a way back home. Can she have the courage to break away to get back to the surface?
What worked: Think Jules Verne meets a latter day Alice in Wonderland. Eliza knows the dangers of the swamp close to her house. Still, she goes with her friends on a dare. When Eliza falls in a sinkhole, what she encounters is something right out of a Sci-Fi novel. There's humongous insects, spiders, and glowing people-like creatures. The author does a great job showing readers the wonder, horror, and terror Eliza witnesses. **Those huge spiders are right out of a Tolkien novel!
The other survivors take Eliza into their colony. Mary, is the 'odd' one of the group. She stays on Eliza to not forget her life on the surface and to fight to go back. Grayson is around Eliza's age and there is an instant connection between the two. There's also a little romance.
The biggest part is when Eliza does decide to leave the colony. A few rally around her, but others refuse to go. Apparently living under the ground makes survivors apathetic about leaving.
One problem I did have was with the idea of Eliza dealing with anxiety issues. It seemed as if she was able to bounce back too quickly after an attack. The darkness and just the idea of being far underground seemed as if it would make someone feel almost claustrophobic and panicky.
There's adventure, romance, fantasy elements, and a girl's overwhelming desire to go back to her family. Thrilling, adventurous underground ride. Add to that a protagonist who has to have the courage to face her biggest fears in order to find a way back home.