Friday, November 5, 2010

Review of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.

I read Before I Fall because of all the good reviews I was seeing about it and the recommendations I was getting. In hindsight, I can say that I'm glad I decided to read it.

Samantha Kingston has it all—looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined. -

Before I Fall starts as Sam Kingston wakes up on Friday, February the 12th. Cupid day at school, in which popularity is measured tangibly by how many roses you've been sent by friends or admirers. Other than that, it's a fairly typical day for Sam. Her friends are waiting to pick her up for school. She flirts with her calculus teacher. She skips lunch period to go for yogurt with a friend. There's a party to be at later. Same same. Except she dies in a car crash after the party.

And then everything becomes strictly not usual. She wakes up, miraculously, the next morning, to find that it's once again February the 12th. She goes about the day uneasily, as though the day before were some lucid and horrible dream. But when she wakes up again on the 12th of February, she assumes she's stuck in some sort of purgatory. She starts living like there's no tomorrow, which for her, there really isn't.

Though, when Sam finds out the girl she and her friends have been bullying for years, Juliet Sykes, killed herself on the same night as her own death, it's a kind of turning point for Sam. She begins to think about the differences between each repeated day, and about how the small things she does without thinking effect the people around her dramatically. 

It's from then on that she tries to effect people for the better, though it takes until the seventh day - the last day - to actually achieve her main aim: to stop Juliet from killing herself.

The thing I really love about Before I Fall, aside from the captivating writing style, is the character development. After the first day, I was about ready to put down the book. I could only agree with Juliet: Sam is a bitch. But then, Sam implores "is what I did really so bad?" and "is it really so much different to what you do?"

And that made me realise: it isn't. It isn't any worse than any teenager, really. But no one wants to believe that they themselves aren't any better or different than the people they look down on. That Sam accepts and notes in hindsight that she is as bad as anyone else just perfectly shows the way her character develops. As the days go by, she grows to care about more than herself, more than about how many roses she gets. 

So, Before I Fall is, in summary, about a girl who dies before her time, but in doing so, learns how to really live. It's about a girl who falls in love for the first time just a little too late.

I rate Before I Fall 4 out of 5, and I anticipate the release of Lauren Oliver's second novel: Delirium, coming out on the 1st of February, next year. 
In the comments, tell me what you think about Before I Fall, if you've read it. If you haven't, tell me if you'd consider doing so after my review.

So, goodbye, and here's to hoping I never have to write February so many times in one piece of writing ever again (it's the one word that I will never spell right the first time).

1 comment:

Karen said...

I have Before I Fall (& Delirium) but I loaned to it to a friend first. She loved it and it's on it's way home to me now with direct orders to read it as soon as I get it back! So I'm looking forward to see if I'll like it as much as everyone else seems to.

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