Friday, February 12, 2010

Book Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Title: Before I Fall

Author: Lauren Oliver

Pages: 480

Received from: ATWT

Summary:

What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High - from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last.

Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death - and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.


An important thing you must know about this book and my experience reading it: our protagonist, Samantha, wakes up on a certain Friday, two days before Valentine's Day, the twelfth, Cupid Day, thinking it will be just like any other. That night, as she and her three best friends ride home from a party, they crash, and she dies. Except that the next morning, it is once again Friday, Feburary 12th. And this happens the next day. And the next. And the next.

And I, your narrator, found myself reading this book...on the twelfth.

Anyway.

So, as I've said, Sam dies. This is not a spoiler because, again, she keeps on waking up...like Groundhog Day, except she's not Bill Murray and no one spends their many repetitive days experimenting with various suicide methods.




As well she shouldn't; Sammy here is popular, see. Incredibly popular. She, Lindsay, Elody and Ally together rule the school, taking down anyone that stands in there way (like Rambo, but with teenage girls). After years of relative obscurity, Sam pushes aside anyone who might damage her status, including childhood friend Kent and resident freak Juliet Sykes. But when she wakes up--dead, as it was--forced to relive her last day for an unforseeable amount of time, she has to reevaluate those around her and, most importantly, the decisions she's made.

An interesting--not good, not bad, but interesting--part of Before I Fall is the "supernatural" aspect...if one could call it that. Honestly, I didn't know. Magic or anything of the like is never expliciatly mentioned and, at that, we don't even know if these things are happening. For all the reader can tell, these seven replays could just be the last-bite hallucionations of a dying girl regretting her life. I'm not sure if I like the ambiguity, but it definetly proves fascinating and more then likely will resonate with all the paranormal fans looking for something new.

The part that hit me the most was how sympathetic every single character was and how decidedly gray everyone was and how damn forgiving Sam proved herself to be. Lindsay, clearly a mean girl, clearly someone youd avoid walking down the hallway, is perhaps more likeable simply because of Sam's ability to love the pants off of her. And even Sam herself is put in a really dark middle ground, constantly reminded of how bitchy she was and how bitchy she continues to be. The underlying redemption theme does well to highlight this and make me all giggly inside.

Every time Sam wakes, she relives her day a new way. Going to school late, not going at all, dressing up, dressing down, fixing different relationships even though she knows no one will remember tomorrow. It was kind of heady, but there you go.

Honestly, Before I Fall was a haunting kind of story that, though it doesn't make sense half the time, provides fucking awesome characters, a sweet little romance and a general redemption story with its own warped kind of happy ending. Dare I say we have a candidate for the Best of '10?

Rating: 9 out of 10

Also: has anyone heard of Oliver's dystopian Romeo and Juliet story? I sure have. *drools*

5 comments:

brizmus said...

a dystopian Romeo and Juliet - sounds good! I must read.
This book also sounds FANTASTIC!! I like the idea of the subtle supernatural aspect.

prophecygirl said...

It's so cool that you read it on Before I Fall day!

I'm so glad you liked it - I LOVED it. Amazing debut. And I can't wait for her R&J dystopian either!

Michelle said...

Great review. I find it funny that you're the only reviewer who has mentioned Groundhog Day because that's the first thing that popped into my mind when I heard about this book lol. Thanks for the honest and entertaining review! :)

robby (once upon a book blog/fourteen years) said...

This book sounds great. So great. I love this review, so funny and cute. Made me smile. :]

sharonlovescats said...

yes I'm really looking forward to her dystopian book. I have a big Before I Fall contest coming up in a few hours.

I love this review. It is super cute!

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