Monday, 19 March 2012

Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Published by Harper Teen 2010

What if you only had 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: looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.

The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times 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.

Before I Fall is Lauren Oliver's debut novel. Having read both Delirium and Pandemonium before this, I had high hopes. I wasn't disappointed and I loved it. Lauren Oliver is quickly becoming another one of my favourite authors.

Before I Fall tells the story of Sam Kingston. She has everything a girl could want in high school: she's pretty, popular, has a good-looking boyfriend and amazingly fun friends. Friday, February 12th starts out normal, but it turns out to be the last day of her life. She ends up having to relive her last day seven times, in which she gets the chance to make things right and evaluate the choices she's made in life.

Before I Fall was beautiful and inspiring. On the night of February 12th, Sam and her best friends: Lindsay, Ally and Elody go to a party being held by Kent McFuller in his house while his parents are away. On the way home from the party, Sam and her friends are in a car accident and Sam dies. The catch: she wakes up in the morning, seven times. Sam doesn't start out very likeable and is the typical high school mean girl. As usual, she is a bully along with the rest of her friends, and never questions it. She stays this way throughout most of the book, and I resented her for most of it. She realises that she's living the same day over and over, and she ends up doing what she likes and trying different ways to go about the day. This, I liked. I liked how even how the tiniest change or adjustment could change something dramatically, and I liked seeing how it would play out.

Of course, Sam does try to prevent her death in a few ways, such as staying home the night of the party or skipping school altogether. But even this has a dramatic outcome and something terrible would happen in the place of Sam's death. Sam continues to try other tactics, and she learns quite a few things along the way, growing as a character. Gradually, she realises that she needs to make things right before she dies with some of the people in her life. I think this really showed how much the little things matter in life, and Oliver created very relatable characters in both the bully(ies) and the bully. At this point, I was really rooting for Sam and she was likeable and relatable. This is also when the romance comes into play. It was sweet and touching, and Sam knew she was completely undeserving of him because she had treated him badly for years although he was always nice to her. It makes the ending all the more tragic.

Overall, this was fantastic and it really is a must-read for people in secondary school/high school. Before I Fall was full of drama, tragedy and startlingly relatable characters. It deals with the effects of teen bullying and suicide, how much everything means in life and how it feels on both sides.

5 stars 

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