The Cupid War

The Cupid War is intended for a YA audience, so only tweens on the more mature end of the scale will probably appreciate it. On the surface, it has a lot in common with Heck in that it’s an irreverent story that takes place in the afterlife and therefore has young death at its core, as well as scenes in the girls’ locker room (weird that they both have this in common…). However, the topic is handled much more deftly here.

We meet our hero, Fallon, as he’s about to jump from a bridge to commit suicide. He’s been driven to this by a girl named Susan Sides who has been so clingy and needy that she’s destroyed all of his friendships and his relationship with his girlfriend Becky. Just before he jumps, he changes his mind because he doesn’t want to be remembered as a joke (a guy named “Fallon” who fell to his death?)—but climbing down from the rail of the bridge, he slips and falls to his death anyway. This is when he finds out about the afterlife. It turns out that he has some karmic debt to work off, so he becomes a Cupid.

Cupids are fueled by Love, and it’s their job to help people fall in love. Suicides are their opposite—they drive people into depression and despair. This isn’t to say that all the Cupids are wonderful, happy people, though. Louis, the guy in charge of the Cupids, is a jerk who keeps the other Cupids in line through fear and by zapping them painfully with electricity.

Fallon must deal with his awful boss and less than optimal work conditions while discovering that the Suicides are planning something truly awful. Now he has to convince people to believe him and defy the boss in order to save the world.

SPOILER ALERT: Things you might want to know before suggesting this to your kid


Well, Fallon is dead. So are most of the people in the book, and lots of them are young. Owen and Jada died in a car crash because Owen was driving drunk. Fallon’s mother was also killed by a drunk driver after she ran out on the family—Fallon hasn’t forgiven her for that. Cupids, despite the fact that they’re dead, can basically be destroyed even more—the Suicides can suck the Life right out of them. No one is quite sure what happens to the souls after that.

Suicide and Depression

Fallon explains what led to him standing on that bridge rail, and it’s pretty classic depression. The Suicides cause depression in people by grabbing on and not letting go. Ryan, a boy that Susan Sides latches onto after Fallon dies, slits his wrists in school and then again at his house—he survives both times thanks to intervention from his friend Trina. Fallon finally saves him by using a mirror and causing him to love himself. Self love is the only thing that can help humans recover from a Suicide attack. Suicides also cause car wrecks by giving the drivers no reason to want to live. Suicides are killed by being blasted with pure Love.

Susan Sides died briefly and became a Suicide (it’s even in her name!), but then she was brought back to life. She’s a living Suicide, spreading depression to other high school kids. In the end, Fallon uses the mirror trick and the Suicide part of her is gone—she’s now a very confused teenage girl, but hopefully she’ll be able to heal now.


God is referred to as the Source, and is the Source of Love. Fallon learns to meditate to get in touch with the Source, and through that he gets healing, guidance, and protection. Communing with the Source brings peace and a feeling of well-being.  The Source never speaks in the book, but we learn what Fallon thinks is being said. To Fallon, the Source feels female. Fallon also feels the presence of his mother and begins to forgive her.

Bullies and Grudges

Louis is very much a bully. He keeps his power through fear. He’s only concerned about what’s best for him. He belittles people, keeps them from getting things they need, and physically assaults them. He has some henchmen who do the same. He’s horrible. Fallon begins to push back verbally and then physically. He rather enjoys beating up on Louis when he gets the chance. After he’s communed with the Source, though, Fallon feels less of a need for vengeance.

Louis makes horrible choices, betraying the Cupids and supporting the Suicides. However, in the end we at least have some empathy because he was trying to save his daughter who became a Suicide after she killed herself. Louis makes a final bargain, becoming a Suicide himself so that his daughter can become a Cupid. Even though Fallon can’t quite bring himself to forgive Louis, he doesn’t hold that against the daughter. He also manages to eventually forgive Owen, who had been a henchman of Louis.

Most of the adults, living or dead, are jerks to the kids. Fallon’s father was pretty awful to Fallon, telling him that he would turn out like his mom if he wasn’t careful. He also encouraged Fallon to be a friend to Susan, no matter how much she dominated his life and drove his friends away. Clueless adults tend to make things worse.

Some of the high school girls are really mean to Trina—she can see the Cupids and they tease her about seeing dead people. This makes Fallon really mad, but he does cure them after they’re attacked by Suicides.


Cupids can encourage people who are open to each other to fall in love, but they can’t create love where there’s nothing. Fallon wonders if homosexuality is essentially a Cupid prank, but his mentor Caleb doesn’t even joke about that. He asks Fallon to think about whether that’s even possible, and Fallon has to admit that it isn’t. Homosexuality is a natural inclination or it wouldn’t happen.

Fallon struggles a bit with whether what the Cupids are doing is moral. Can love be real if it’s given a nudge by a Cupid? Caleb assures him that they’re only encouraging what’s already there.

Trina is a living person, but she can sense the Cupids. She and Fallon eventually develop feelings for each other, and the Source assures Fallon that this is ok, even though they’re from different planes of existence. They’ll figure it out.

Sex and Nudity

Fallon realizes that his new Cupid body isn’t anatomically correct. This is a minor deal at first, but then isn’t mentioned again.

Fallon, who as a Cupid can walk through walls, accidentally walks into the girls’ locker room. He doesn’t mean to, but he also doesn’t leave as quickly as he should when he realizes it’s full of girls getting dressed. Of course, Trina shows up and can sense his presence, so there’s a big scene.

When Fallon is walking into houses looking for Ryan, there’s a toss-off line about Fallon hoping he never again walks in on old people having sex.

When Susan Sides drains the life force from Cupids, her reaction is compared to the best orgasm of her life.

Although Fallon often can’t interact with things on the material plane, he does eventually learn how to kiss Trina, and they clearly spend some time doing that. Later, he hides in her locker in the locker room and she drops her towel in surprise. Luckily, she’s mostly amused by the prank.


It’s definitely a bit mature for many tweens—parts of it would make my daughter uncomfortable and my son would hate that it’s so much about people falling in love. But for older or more mature readers, it provides plenty to think about on topics like depression, suicide, love, and horrible first jobs with awful bosses, all wrapped up in a mostly lighthearted book. Fallon has his issues, but he’s easy to identify with. It’s a good book for older reluctant readers.


Disclaimer: I met the author at the Ad Astra convention in Toronto. He gave me a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.


The Cupid War by Timothy Carter
Published in 2011 by Flux
Read my personal copy

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