Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Published HarperCollins 2010
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: Kindle ebook
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.
This was a very powerful and moving book. It really kept me always thinking and captivated throughout everything. Sam isn’t a very likable character in the beginning, or most of the book. She makes some really bad choices to find in with her friends or appear to be cool. There are some moments when she questions her decisions, but these don’t really have much affect on her. She continues to live a life filled with bad influences and rude encounters. Some of her first attempts at the redo of her day make her meaner than ever, using information to have a day filled with drama from beginning to end. These moments are really powerful and have a huge effect. She makes progress throughout the book. While she never can totally leave this type of past behind, she embraces it a little bit more to change herself.
Sam, as I said, is not a very likable character. She is a bully, surrounded by friends who are equally as rude and terrible. They have mean inside jokes and care about boys and clothing and being popular. Her friends have a bad influence on her and that’s the worst part of the book. She follows them around so blindly just for the good feeling that she gets from being with them and in the life of parties. They keep secrets for each other that harm themselves. While they all have problems, some of these problems are really bad physically or mentally and they refuse to tell anyone so they can be popular. Sam does show some of their better qualities, especially in the final chapters, but it’s still very hard to like them. However, I loved Kent and he is another of my book boyfriends. He is such a gentlemen, which is rare for book boyfriends now. He’s so cute and awkward and I loved how caring his care was, especially to Sam. Kent always believed in her being a better person and was a great support for her. Some of my favorite scenes were with him.
Then, there was Juliet, the main problem of the book. Most of it surrounds how to keep her from making a very bad decision at the end of the day. Sam can never really stop this, although she tries in many different ways. This part of the story was interesting and I liked it well enough, but I feel like it should have been stronger. I didn’t really connect or feel anything for Juliet through most of the book. It served as a good point for the change of the day and there was lots of development from this scene with different viewpoints. Overall, I just wish that I liked Juliet a little bit better to feel more for this scene.
The plot about the changing day was always interesting. I was always intrigued to see what choice she would make to totally change the way her entire day happened. In that aspect, it reminded me a little bit of Just One Day by Gayle Forman, another really beautiful contemporary. As always, Lauren Oliver’s writing is simply beautiful. This was her first book, and her writing has definetely evolved since then, but it is still distinctly her gorgeous style.
The ending was the only thing I really had a problem with. I wished that it had ended a different way, but it was surprising and different from how I thought it would turn out.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and the meaning behind it but I wish I connected more with one of the major plots and the ending was a bit more clear.