Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Book Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

What would day would you choose to relive over and over again? Samantha Kingston doesn't get to choose the day that she is forced to relive. It is the day that she died, and she goes through the same experiences and conversations over and over again, trying to figure out why she cannot escape it.

At the outset of the story, Sam is a classic "mean girl." She and her posse of friends rule their school and everyone in it. In fact, she's more than a mean girl. She's a narcissistic bi-atch who only cares about her superficial popularity, which is based almost entirely on putting others down.

I think that it takes great courage on the part of the author to create such a repulsive personality for a main character. I mean, Sam is not an admirable character at all. In fact, she's the antithesis of good. She's snarky and rude and obnoxious. I hated her.

But, I was supposed to hate her. Lauren Oliver, the master author of this debut novel, wrote one of the most vile main characters in all of YA lit, and then made me love that same character over the course of 470 pages. That's talent.

Because even though you might hate Sam, you want her to make her life right. She has the opportunity (which seems like a curse for the most part) to relive her last day and make changes to her behavior along the way. This book has been compared to the movie Groundhog Day quite a bit, but it actually reminded me more of the old TV series Quantum Leap.

In that show, the main character travels though time into other people's lives (so it's not the exact same), and cannot leave their life until he's figured out a way to fix the problem that he's been sent to remedy. Before I Fall is like this. Sam will not stop reliving her last day until she figures out why she's being sent back and fixes the way that her last day ended.

I loved this book. It felt original and fresh and the writing was dynamic. Sam's life and the way that she transformed her personality in this story made me think about my own relationships and the way that I treat others. But, I didn't feel like the author was breathing down my neck from some moral high horse, either. I came to my thoughts and realizations on my own, just as Samantha did in this story. An excellent novel.


  1. OK. I've got to read this one. Firstly, I remember Quantum Leap! Secondly, I recently read 'If I Stay' which sounds connected in some ways. Thanks for the review, Hattie.


  2. This sounds really interesting! Thanks for the review!

    -Jamie at The Broke and Bookish

  3. I agree- takes talent to make us root for her. Great review.

  4. Great review! I've read good and bad reviews of this's definitely got my interest:-) I am liking the audio book version of Going Bovine even better than the hardback. Cameron reminds me of some one I know. I can't wait to write a review of this one:-)

  5. I have to say, I agree, I was bowled over when I started rooting for Sam.
    I've linked to your review here: on my review of the same!

  6. I agreed with your review! And great job with your review! It was detailed and well-written! I loved Before I Fall too =)

    Here from CEP =)

  7. CEP

    I have read so many great things about this novel yet I am afraid to read it. What if it doesn't live up to my expectations?

    I think I'll nudge it up the tbr pile a bit anyway!

  8. I have this on its way now. I cant wait to read it after your review.

    Here from CEP!

  9. Great review! I love it when an author can make me care about someone I don't really like.



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