Ariana's Reviews > Before I Die

Before I Die by Jenny Downham
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Jun 20, 11

bookshelves: death-and-dying
Read in December, 2010

This review can be found at ReadingAfterMidnight.com

I don't really know what to say about this book. I didn't like it that much, but I didn't hate it either..



The bad:

For the most part of the story I didn't really care about Tessa, about her illness and her strange wishes (as I never got attached to her). I understand the desire to have a boyfriend, to be kissed and have sex, probably at her age this would be an important part of her life, but the other 'wishes' were kind of stupid and not the ones that someone would like to think about before dying. I just expected something else from her and I was disappointed by all this.

More than this I hated her dumb friend who reminded her every 5 minutes that she's gonna die and who was NEVER there for her (and when she tried to help Tessa with her stupid wishes I just wanted to punch her for being such an idiot and not being a good friend at all), I hated her little brother telling her that he can't wait for her to be gone (sometimes he seemed to be 5 years old even if we've been told he was older), I hated her mother who seemed not to care about her at all. Ok, so there were lots of things I didn't like in this book.

The good:

The only character that I liked was Adam. I don't know why he fell in love with Tessa because she didn't even deserved it (and didn't deserve him) and because this happened so suddenly, but he was really nice and caring. There were some scenes with him being there for her and giving her all his love that made me like him more. I felt sad for him, really, because Tessa was going to die and that was the end for her, but he will remember her all his life, he will lose a part of him forever.. so he was the only character in this book that made me care. There were times that Tessa wanted him close, and there were times when she told him to get away and never come back, but he was always there for her, never disappointing her.

‘I love you,’ he whispers angrily into my neck. ‘It hurts more than anything ever has, but I do. So don’t you dare tell me I don’t. Don’t you ever say it again!’


The best part of this book is of course the ending. All those dreams mixed with reality and thoughts, the notes for the ones she was letting behind, the people that cared for her being finally there for her, that was the only part that touched my heart, that was the only part that made me care, because death is hard even if only written in the books, death makes you cry, death makes you think about all the thing that you want to do while still alive..

SO, what's on your list?
You never know how much time you have.. so, how many items on your list did you check so far, and how many are still waiting to be done?

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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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Sonia I felt similarly, I didn't care much for Tessa, but I cared a lot for her dad. Although Tessa's dying and has things she wants to do, she was selfish in the way she did things and the way she treated those who wanted to help her and be close with her.


Ariana I guess it might be better to do stupid things than cry yourself to death thinking of all the things you won't be able to do. So my feelings are still quite mixed, but anyways I couldn't connect with her and her wishes.

She didn't care about some other people, they didn't seem to care much about her, I am not sure about the relationships in this story. The ending left me a tiny bit misty eyed though - the only part that didn't leave me perfectly indifferent.


Sarah Newman I agree 100% with hating Zoey. She was probably the most unlikable character in any book I've ever read. I did however love Cal and especially her father. It really bothered me that he gave up his entire life to take care of her and she didn't seem to appreciate it at all.


Ariana Yeah, she was really selfish. Not that I have a right to judge her, when you're counting down your days you might have the right to be selfish, but I just wanted her to have a bit more depth. And, yeah, to also appreciate the efforts of her loved ones.


message 5: by Evelyn (new)

Evelyn Come on guys! I get that Tessa wasn't the greatest person but stop trash talking her! She was going to die, had cancer and was going through a rough time. So stop judging!


Ariana You didn't read my previous comment, did you? ;)
I know, I shouldn't judge her.. but I do.


message 7: by Ana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ana You resumed everything I thought about the book. It saddened me more that Adam was going to hurt when Tessa died than the fact that Tessa was going to die. And I didn't like the book except for Adam and the final scene, it was so amazing and I think it captured what I think being seconds to die is, the confusion and all of that.


Ariana It was indeed a powerful ending.
Maybe the whole book didn't work for me because I could not connect with the main character, but there were some great things in terms of writing (like that one).. and at least there was one character to steal my heart - of course, Adam.


message 9: by kat (new) - rated it 2 stars

kat I totally agree with your review. I must admit there were times that I got so upset and frustrated with Tessa that I actually thought I wasted my time and money by reading and buying this book. I understand the part that they wanted the story to be realistic and to express raw feelings but for me I felt that every character in this book was selfish and insensitive (with the exception of Adam and sometimes Cal). I did not enjoy the book at all and i had a bit of expectation for this one. I felt that she wasted her remaining time by trying to make the wish list happen. I'm apologizing to the people who loved/liked the book and to the author for saying these things. This is just what I felt.


Ariana Yeah, I feel bad too when I give a negative review, but no one will apologies for my displeasure, right? So I shouldn't still be the one feeling bad about saying how I did not enjoy a story. Does this make sense, LOL?

I am glad for all those people that did enjoy it though, I wish I did too.


message 11: by kat (new) - rated it 2 stars

kat yes i get what you're saying. i was so upset for the entire day after reading the book. no one apologized to me haha.


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