Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver


Summary from Goodreads:

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

Since I haven't heard of the movie, Groundhog Day, up until a few minutes ago, the whole concept of being stuck in a time loop is a new idea to me, and this is what made me interested in Before I Fall. It's a Contemporary YA novel but made compelling with the added element of dying seven times over.

When I started reading the first few pages of this book, I didn't think I would be into it. The main characters are four popular and mean girls. There is booze, partying, smoking, drugs, cutting classes, and sexual promiscuity. They are having, pretty much, a very wild high school life. Whenever I get to read about things like these, there is always that feeling of detachment. Because it's a high school experience that is completely different from my own. But as I progressed, that feeling of detachment ebbed away as I began to learn what makes these teenagers tick. Sam Kingston for one, despite being popular and pretty and seemingly in control of her status, is actually vulnerable and flawed. I didn't expect to like her, but I did. I found her voice to be genuinely that of a teen. The rest of her friends, Ally, Elody, Lindsey, had interesting personalities. Lindsey was their Queen Bee, tough, and unforgiving, Ally was the heiress-type rich girl, Elody the nicest (albeit a bit floozy) one in the bunch. They too had their own skeletons in the closet as well. Struggles with weight and food, family problems, alcoholism etc.

I loved the romance in the story. I liked that it wasn't instantaneous but rather a slow development. I thought it was sweet how Sam became aware of the boy’s little nuances and mannerisms and that she found them adorable. The statements of love and longing were quite poetic and not too campy or cheesy, for my taste at least.

I found Lauren Oliver’s writing to be prose-like but at the same time have that "direct-to-the-point-say-it-like-it-is" quality. I liked the fact that the story is layered. It’s about death and dying, about life, about friendship and family and love, it explored bullying as well and it’s horrendous effects, of how one small act can escalate into something horrible (sort of like cause and effect). I thought reading about the same day being relieved seven times woul be awfully tiresome and boring but Lauren Oliver made sure each of the seven Febraury 12 would turn out to be different and I never lost the excitement nor did I felt the slightest bit bored.

I know the book has power when I start rooting for the main character and that is what happened. By the 7th February 12, I wanted so badly for Sam to be finally wrenched out of that time loop and I was on pins and needles just anticipating whether she got out or not. Most importantly this book made me think of life in general and my own in particular. And of the weight that this phrase holds: "Live your life as if it were your last." It's a beautiful story and definitely one of my best Contemporary YA reads this year.

Before I Fall is a recipient of Romantic Times (RT) Reviewers' Choice Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Paranormal/Fantasy Novel (2010), Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult Fiction, Debut Author, Nominee for Goodreads Author, Favorite Heroine (2010), YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011), Publishers Weekly's Best Children's Books of the Year for Fiction (2010)

This is my 19th entry for the Award Winning Books Reading Challenge hosted by Gathering Books.

Comments

  1. Tin, this is not a genre I would normally choose to read. I should stretch and try a title! Thanks for the review. Your comments are always thorough and I enjoy reading your take on a book.

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    Replies
    1. My go-to genre is normally Fantasy YA. Although Before I Fall being under Contemporary, in it's broadest sense is still under YA. So it isn't much of a stretch for me really.

      I too am planning on stretching and trying anything not YA. Like Adult Fiction but lately I don't have the will power just yet to get out of my comfort reads. :)

      Thanks for the kind words Joyce Ray! I always love it when you drop by! :D

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