Thursday, 22 July 2010

Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Dear Blog,
I finished Before I Fall  (Only the 2nd book on my 2010 Debut Author Challenge list that I've read) last night so as ever I have a review.
You may or may not have noticed that my blog background has dissapeared.  This is something to do with the website, but I hope by the weekend my blog will be restored to its normalness. 

Summary (from Goodreads): What if you had only 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 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined.

Review: I disagree with the Jay Asher quote on the front cover: "You'll have no choice but to tear through this book".  To my mind, this is the sort of book you have to read slowly; savouring every single word and really dragging it out so that it never ends.  Why rush through this book and then finish it, just like that? Yes, I read Before I Fall reeeally sloooowly, like when you only have a few bites of chocolate cake and want to make them last as long as possible.  Mind you, when I say "really slowly," I mean four days, and my mother is still reading the same book that she was reading in May. 

It seems that in lots of reviews of Before I Fall, people seem to dislike Sam.  Sometimes, quite a lot.  But I thought it was kind of nice to have a book from the point of view of one of the I've-got-it-all, popular crowd type-people instead of one of the outsiders who can only watch on while the in-crowd go to parties and date jocks and all that.  And, well, although every cliché  is based behind some truth, Sam wasn't like that.  And as for her being mean, although I found Sam really likeable, because, well, if somebody goes on the awesome emotional journey of sorts that Sam experiences by way of living through the last day of their life 7 times, it's hard not to completely love them.  It was her friend, Lindsay, who I wasn't really keen on, as the plot went further and further along and we found out more about her secrets, then I couldn't help but start disliking her more and more.  And yet I felt sort of sorry for her at the same time.  Such is the emotional torment that is Before I Fall, and  by the end I still hadn't made up my mind on how much I really liked her.

And Juliet.  Even though the reader didn't find out more and more about her until about half-way through the book, she is an excellent, excellent character;  complex, disturbed, quiet, terrible, fascinating and slightly creepy.  A companion novel or sequel of some sort that goes further into her complicated character would be somewhat awesome, although it would be kind of hard to fit that around Before I Fall; it couldn't just tell the same story from the point of view of another person.  Anyway, Juliet was to my mind the most interesting person in the book.

I supposed at first that it must be hard to write about the same day seven times over.  But this book makes you realise how many possibilities there are for events in each day.  Who knows, everything could be completely different.
It makes you think a lot about this sort of thing; how one person's actions can completely alter everything.  It also makes you wander what you would do if you had to live the same day over and over, and what you would do to change things.  In which sense, it's a very philosophical book. 

So, well, plot?  Does this book have a plot?  A girl dies in a car crash and lives through it seven times.  It's sort of hard to describe the book in that sense, but Sam learns so much along the way, then it feels like a journey of sorts. Even if it's just to The Country's Best Yogurt, school and a party.  It was an emotional journey, I suppose.

One thing: This is one of those books where they released it in the UK, changed the cover slightly (got rid of the Jay Asher quote and changed the font) and didn't bother changing certain words to the British spelling. As you may or may not know, I feel like screaming whenever there's a spelling mistake that the editor missed, and though having it published with some slight differences to the spelling here and there because it was first published across the pond, is no excuse.  Perhaps this is just me being a grammar freak, maybe not, but it bothers me.

And, well, to conclude with a new conclusion system:

In three words: thought-provoking, funny, and heartbreaking.
Reccomended for: teenagers and adults everywhere.
Rating: 5.

1 comment:

  1. Have you tried Eleven Birthdays by Wendy Mass? The main character's eleventh birthday is repeated eleven times, in where she make small decisions that change each day. It's really good!


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