Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Review: before i fall

before i fall
Lauren Oliver
Young Adult/Fantasy
HarperCollins/March 2, 2010

From the author's website ~

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: 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.

There were moments when I loved this book. Then there were moments when I wanted to stop, set it aside and make up my own ending. I wanted to pretend that I didn't know how it would end. But I knew. So I kept reading and even though the side of me that longs for the Happily Ever After was sad, the other, more practical side of me knew this was how it was meant to end.

I didn't like Sam Kingston very much when she first came on the page. It actually took a long time for me to warm up to her. The same goes for her three closest friends - Lindsay, Ally & Elody. They are the type of girls I avoided in high school. They are the girls who judge you by what you wear, how you look and where you live. They only look at the surface, too important to bother looking any deeper. They're all about being popular, being in on the latest gossip and being at the center of attention. Then IT happens and Sam starts looking at things differently. She gets a unique viewpoint of her life, her friends and herself.

This is such a different story from the flood of young adult novels on the market. It's an emotional read, with Oliver making me care about these characters even though I didn't like them very much. To me, that says something about the talent of the author. It wasn't until well into the book, when Sam's eyes are opened and she starts to look below the surface, that I came to like her and care about her.

One of the things I did like about Sam is her loyalty. Even after she begins to realize how superficial she and her friends are, she stills finds the good in them and still considers them her best friends.

As Sam begins to change, her relationships change and become more focused on what's important. I loved how she began to appreciate her little sister Izzy. Their relationship turned from an annoying little sister to Sam seeing how much she treasures her little sister. Sam has breakthroughs in other relationships, people from her past, seeing them in a new light. In a way it made it that much worse with it all happening at this point in her life.

I don't think I can recommend this book without some reservations. I do believe it to be a well written, compelling novel. But, damn it made me so sad. Sad for the what ifs, the what could have been and the what will never be. It also made me laugh at some of the oddest things. And it made me think. Maybe that's what's most important.

Rating: B+


  1. Nice review, Leslie. I bought this book last year when I was at the RT on Mollie's recommendation, but I haven't had the courage to read it yet. As you say, we know how it's going to end and no matter what, it'll be heart-breaking T_T

    But I'm glad to see you enjoyed it :)

  2. Nath ~ thanks! I did enjoy it but it's not something I'll ever re-read. It is story that stays with you though.

  3. I am intrigued but I really doubt I'll ever read this book. Good review though, Leslie. :P

  4. Ames ~ it's definitely not for everyone. Not easy to read at times but glad I did read it.

  5. I've seen good reviews for this book, but it does sound sad. I have another YA book that contemplates death so to speak, If I Stay out from the library right now that I have to read soon. I read the first couple of pages around Christmas, but didn't think I was in the right frame of mind. I plan to pick it back up this week.

  6. Christine ~ it's sad but interesting and hard to look away from.

    I read the blurb for If I Stay and it sounds similar to before i fall. Not an easy read.