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Monday, March 1, 2010

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 006172680X
Pages: 480 pgs
Genre: Young Adult
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge, YA Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:
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.
My Review:
I read Before I Fall in my new initiative to read more YA books. It was a conscious decision based on a Young Adult Literature class I took as an elective at library school. The class was really intense on the YA reading and created a love for the genre that will probably slowly begin to take over this blog. My love for YA was only increased by the intelligence, complexity and themes of this book.

Sam was one of those characters that I hated from the moment I opened the book. I really did. She was one of those popular drones that appear in almost every high school on the planet. It was actually quite disturbing to be in the head of one of those drones at first. To know exactly what the popular girls were thinking was frightening, especially to a girl who was a bookish, library-rat in high school.  Lindsay was the ring leader of the popular girls and Samantha’s best friend . I think you were supposed to feel some source of empathy for her by the end of the book but I just couldn’t. The ring leader is always the worst and she most definitely was. Kent, Sam’s former friend with a crush on her, was, as my Mom would say, “a very nice boy.” He was one of those guys that fly under the radar until they get to college. Very genuine, very sweet. You keep hoping throughout the book that some miracle can save Sam just so she can be all sweet with Kent.

I am a huge fan of books that use the Groundhog Day premise and make it new. It is very hard to keep it from becoming boring. Sometimes with other books based on Groundhog Day, it can feel as if you are reading the same chapter over and over again. Not very fun or interesting. Lauren Oliver is masterful in portraying the subtle shifts in the story and the character. She was able to create a sympathy for a character where none existed through the skillful shifts from chapter to chapter. Never have I seen a character grow and mature so much from one chapter to another.  

I think the ending will be the most controversial thing about this novel. It a “love/hate” kinda thing. But I think if you really want Sam to be redeemed, it works perfectly. If it was any other way, the ending would seem shallow and unfulfilling. The epilogue is also the most beautiful part of this book. It is one hauntingly beautiful bit of writing that made me reach for my box of Kleenex.

This is one of those books that I think everyone will love. There is something for everyone (to be one huge cliché). Anyone looking for a young adult novel with strong characterization, plot and writing, will want to pick this up. Highly recommended.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.


  1. Sounds good! I plan to read this one soon!!

  2. That sounds so good! Just came over to say hi from SITS. I am going to have to pick up that book. I love YA books too. I am a huge Twilight fan which got me hooked on the YA stories. There are some great ones out there!

  3. Wow. I haven't read any YA books but this one sounds like the place to start.
    I am a new follower from Book Blogs.

  4. Love your review. Informative and well-written. Added to my TBR list!



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