By popular demand, here is a list of content warnings for THE FALLEN.
By their very nature, lists of content warnings are not exhaustive; the nature of what’s potentially upsetting about a story will be different for every reader. My list is based on checking THE FALLEN’s plot against the lists of warnable items used on The StoryGraph (as of January 2021). In some cases I’ve changed the phrasing of an item from the list to make it more specific to what happens in the book. However, if you need warnings for a plot element that isn’t related to anything from The StoryGraph’s list, it may not appear here.
This list comes in two variants: brief and detailed. The brief version of the list has only the names of the warnable story elements (e.g. “Mental illness”), sometimes with a one- or two-word note about the intensity of these elements (e.g. “Mental illness (major theme)”). The detailed list has longer verbal notes about the role of these elements in the story; this list may contain spoilers.
Scroll down to get the brief version, followed by the detailed version.
Content Warnings: Brief Version
Body modification (minor)
Mental illness (major theme)
Suicidal thoughts (minor)
Content Warnings: Detailed Version
Characters with mental illness surviving and supporting each other is a major theme of the book. For many characters this includes struggling with internalized ableism, such as the idea that their illness makes them useless. Several characters are shown, in flashbacks, to have been manipulated or taken advantage of because of their non-neurotypicality.
There is violence periodically throughout the book, which sometimes involves blood. A magical ritual involving blood is briefly described.
The angel characters are cyborgs with electronic circuitry in their brains. Two angel characters undergo surgery to remove part of the circuitry and have a difficult recovery. A character has elaborate prosthetic arms.
Children are killed by angel violence offscreen; the characters discuss their deaths. A minor character grieves for his teenage daughter.
Several secondary characters are survivors of long-term imprisonment. The fact that the angels have other prisoners is mentioned. A character remains largely bedbound for long periods due to mental illness. A character remains alone in a spaceship for months, with only brief visits, because it is not safe to leave. A former prisoner of the angels is recaptured.
Characters occasionally use curse words.
The book occurs in the aftermath of a disaster that killed millions of people. Violence by angels, as well as the continuing difficulties of living in the affected area, continue to claim more lives. Children are killed by angel violence offscreen. An angel shoots into a crowd of people and a major character feels responsible for the deaths. A minor character is publicly executed. Protestors are shot and killed by angels playing the role of riot police. A minor character grieves for his teenage daughter.
Two villain characters are in a toxic, neglectful relationship. One of the characters physically slaps the other and knocks them down.
The Gods appear to be looking for the right excuse to exterminate the whole population of an area.
Generally speaking, many characters feel responsible for, or affected by, the high death toll around them. Some characters feel responsible for the deaths of specific acquaintances or strangers. A minor character grieves for his teenage daughter.
The angels use guns against many opponents, including children (offscreen), refugees (offscreen), peaceful protestors, and innocent bystanders.
A former prisoner of the angels is recaptured.
Two angel characters undergo neurosurgery and have a difficult recovery. A child is treated for a broken arm. A character is shown, in flashbacks, having experienced brain injury as a result of a botched surgery.
Mental illness (major theme)
A majority of the characters are autistic, depressed, and/or traumatized. Characters managing their mental illness and caring for each other is a major theme of the book. A character is newly plural and struggles to cope. A character has minor suicidal ideation, but is not a danger to themselves. Other characters have symptoms of mental illness and/or non-neurotypicality that are not specifically labeled with a diagnosis (including selective mutism, stimming, and hyperactivity). A character remains largely bedbound for long periods due to mental illness. A character tries to insulate their mentally ill partner from painful truths and eventually realizes that this is a mistake. Some of the characters struggle with internalized ableism, such as a feeling that their illness makes them useless.
The angels have effectively declared martial law over a region. Curfews and unpredictable lockdowns are imposed; guns as well as other forms of violence are used against the population. The use of torture is mentioned but the torture occurs offscreen. A minor character is publicly executed as part of a routine series of executions. Peaceful protestors and innocent bystanders are shot. There is a discussion of child refugees having been shot, offscreen.
The angels justify their violence through a fear of heresy. Heresies that hurt no one, such as growing edible food through the use of Outside abilities, are considered grounds for lethal violence.
Suicidal thoughts (minor)
A character has minor suicidal ideation but is not a danger to themselves.
The use of torture is mentioned but the torture occurs offscreen.
The angels have effectively declared martial law over a region. Curfews and unpredictable lockdowns are imposed; guns as well as other forms of violence are used against the population. The use of torture is mentioned but the torture occurs offscreen. A minor character is publicly executed as part of a routine series of executions. Peaceful protestors and innocent bystanders are shot. There is a discussion of child refugees having been shot, offscreen. Non-angel characters discuss the merits of violent and nonviolent resistance, eventually using a mix of both. An angel gets into a bloody physical fight with another angel. A villain character physically slaps their romantic partner and knocks them down. Cosmic-horror-related abilities are used to defend civilians, with successful but gruesome results.