Monday, 17 October 2011

Review: Before I Fall

Title: Before I Fall
Author: Laruen Oliver
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: March 2nd, 2010
Genre: YA, Contemporary

Sam Kingston has it all: the perfect boyfriend, the coolest friends and the best table in the cafeteria. She never stays home on a Friday night, and is one of the most popular girls in school. Friday February 12th is supposed to be a special day for Sam. Not only is it Cupid Day, but it’s also the day she is supposed to lose her virginity to her boyfriend. The night ends in a way no one could have predicted when Sam is killed in a car accident. Instead of her life flashing before her eyes, she wakes up in her bed on the morning of February 12th, again. For one week, Sam relives the same day over and over again. As the details of her death become clearer, she will have to decide how she will spend the last day of her life.

Before I Fall starts with an intriguing premise: what if you could relive the last day of your life? Who would you spend it with and what would you do? A promising concept mixed with Oliver’s great writing pretty much guaranteed that this would be good. I was really looking forward to it and it didn’t disappoint. This was an honest story about being a teenager. I don’t usually like books about the “mean girls” but this was an exception. I know a lot of girls like Sam and her friends and this book gave me a bit of a high school flashback. Although popularity at my high school wasn’t as simplistic as it was for Sam, Oliver did a good job at capturing life as a teenager. Sam goes to a small high school in Connecticut where everyone knows each other, and she believes that bullying the occasional person is just a part of high school. Although there were times when I hated Sam and her friends, there were also times when I could understand why they were popular. They were complicated and very realistic. There were some fantastic characters, including Kent, Izzie and Anna. It was amazing how Sam grew as a person throughout one week. I went from basically hating her to loving her. The characters ended up being one of the strongest points of the novel. The plot could be compared to Groundhog Day, but it was carried out brilliantly. You would assume that things would drag on, with Sam repeating the same day over and over. That wasn’t the case at all, since different things happen each day. At first, Sam’s death appears to be very simple, but as we learn more each day it becomes clear that things are more complicated than they appear. I loved how everything came together in the end. The writing was beautiful, making Before I Fall an amazing debut novel.

This book asked a lot of interesting questions: what would you do if no one would remember it in the morning? How would you spend the last day of your life? What would you regret? What would you miss? And most importantly, what would be worth dying for? With characters that jump of the page, great writing and an absorbing plot, Before I Fall was memorable and fascinating. It didn’t have the same emotional effect on me as Delirium, and I think that’s one of the reasons many people prefer it to Before I Fall. However, this was a captivating novel that I’d definitely recommend.

4/5

“I guess that's what saying good-bye is always like--like jumping off an edge. The worst part is making the choice to do it. Once you're in the air, there's nothing you can do but let go.”

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