Leah's Reviews > Before I Fall

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
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's review
Sep 16, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: books-read-2010, for-review
Read on February 03, 2010

Like most teenagers, Sam Kingston believes she’s going to live forever. However on a rainy February Friday night, driving home from a party, Sam and her friends Elody, Lindsay and Ally end up in a car crash. A car crash that kills Sam. Trouble is, she wakes up the next day and it’s that same Friday. As Sam keeps repeating that fateful Friday, she begins to realise that although she may not be able to save herself, she may well be able to save someone. The question is, will she be able to untangle all of the mysteries surrounding her death before her week is up?

When Hodder and Stoughton sent Chloe and I a bunch of books to review, Before I Fall was one of them. Up until then I had never heard of Lauren Oliver’s debut novel and I added it to my shelf to be read at a later date. However as the months progressed I kept seeing reviews appear about the same book and everyone said more or less the same thing: This was a life-changing book. That really intrigued me and although I approached the book with some skepticism – a book changing lives and being so powerful that everyone raves about it? – I finally decided to sit down and have a read.

The first thing I want to say before I review the book itself is that I want to see this book made into a movie. The movie potential this book has is incredible and I’d be astounded if it wasn’t optioned to be made into a film. Any film studio would have a winner on their hands if they picked this up because believe me, it is a powerful book. The book has been likened to Groundhog Day although I haven’t actually seen it so I can’t compare. I have however looked it up and yes, they sound rather similar which shows that Before I Fall could be a good movie!

I have to say though that at first I didn’t know what to make of the book. For a while it seemed as though I wasn’t going to like it and, even worse, I wasn’t going to like Sam. The Prologue is fantastic and the build up to the crash was suspenseful but I just couldn’t warm to Sam right away. The thing is I think that we’re supposed to not really like Sam at the beginning. She’s popular, has a fantastic boyfriend and her life couldn’t be more perfect but because she was popular she wasn’t exactly very nice. Not at first, anyway. I was very quickly sucked in though and as I got to know Sam more, I began to like her more.

The plot is immensely complex yet so simplistic at the same time: Sam dies but, it seems, she hasn’t really died and has the chance to re-live her last day seven times. The book is broken up into sections for each of the replayed days and although repeating the same day seven times may seem repetitive and dull, it’s not. As Sam re-lives that day again and again more things come to light about what happens the night of the crash and Sam seems to realise just what is important in life. It’s ironic really that the only time Sam took stock of what a cow she was, was when she was dying/dead but I suppose that doesn’t really matter as Sam did finally realise just how mean she could be. The changes as each day progresses and the realisations that come to Sam all happen subtly and slowly and everything that happens that day is unravelled until eventually Sam has the chance to somehow salvage something from such a horrible situation.

Sam is a cliched and typical character when we first meet her but as the book progressed and Sam herself began to change with the realisation that she really was reliving her death again and again I found myself warming to her. The truth is Sam doesn’t go through any major changes from one day to the next – they’re all little changes and realisations rather than one major change – so I don’t know how I went from being lukewarm about her to completely loving her but I did. I put that down to Lauren Oliver’s writing. Sam’s friends Elody, Lindsay and Ally were also incredibly cliched when we first meet them and although they don’t really experience many changes – they don’t know they’re reliving a day seven times – I did find myself warming to them also. It took a long time for me to warm to Lindsay, the ring leader of the four, but I admired her fierce streak throughout. Ally and Elody, although typical characters, were pretty likeable throughout. A favourite character of mine, though, was Kent, a friend of Sam’s. He seemed to be always there for Sam (kind of) and he seemed incredibly nice.

The end of the book was immensely sad. I obviously knew something sad was coming but what Sam did shocked me completely. It all seems to happen so abruptly – even though it’s been building for seven days. I found I was tearing up as we hurtled towards the end. It was definitely hugely emotional and it seemed like, for Sam, it was some kind of redemption. It was a very satisfactory end and how it all panned out was quite clever. Lauren Oliver is a hugely talented author, even if this is only her first book. The fact is she’s managed to create such a web of a plot and manage to unravel it all as well as also keeping me guessing the entire time. The storyline is simple enough but it must have taken a lot to get everything all ironed out and I applaud Lauren Oliver for tackling such a plot. The plot isn’t a happy one yet it never feels depressing; it actually feels uplifting. Sam may have been dead but she still had the chance to redeem herself in some way. The book never felt heavy or overly sad and I again must applaud Lauren Oliver’s writing. Sam narrates the entire book and I could feel all of the emotions she felt. She goes through it all: anger, denial, helplessness and even acceptance and Sam really seemed to mature before the book came to its conclusion.

I really recommend you pick up Before I Fall. I truly believe that every teenager should be given this to read as it would really speak to them about a lot of things. The book may not feel heavy or depressing but it does tackle some difficult issues. I actually believe everyone should read this book because it truly is that fantastic. It’s totally worth persevering with as once it gets going, it really gets going and I struggled to put it down. This is definitely a book I’ll be reading again.
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Quotes Leah Liked

Lauren Oliver
“Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there's a tomorrow. Maybe for you there's one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through you fingers. So much time you can waste it.
But for some of us there's only today. And the truth is, you never really know.”
Lauren Oliver, Before I Fall

Lauren Oliver
“I guess that's what saying good-bye is always like--like jumping off an edge. The worst part is making the choice to do it. Once you're in the air, there's nothing you can do but let go.”
Lauren Oliver, Before I Fall

Reading Progress

02/03/2010 page 65
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message 1: by Rossy (new) - added it

Rossy Fantastic review, Leah!
I'm still waiting for my order to arrive with this book...

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