Thursday, November 11, 2010

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

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.

{taken from}

Let me just say this first before you read my entire review.. I am probably in the minority when it comes to my opinions about this book.  I have read numerous rave reviews for this book & this author.  I even picked up this book from Barnes & Noble's 'Most Popular Teen Fiction' shelf.  I get that many people love this book.  I, however, am not one of those people.  It is very rare for me to write a review that I am not jumping up & down telling you to go read this book.  I tend to enjoy most of what I read.  And if I don't, well then I usually don't finish the book & there's no review to read. But with that being said, here is what I thought about Before I Fall...

Sam Kingston is the narrator, as we see everything through her eyes.  She is a teenage girl who once wasn't so popular, but by chance found herself at the right party at the right time & made best buds with Lindsey (the most popular girl in school).  From then on Sam surrounds herself with Lindsey & 2 other girls (Ally & Elody).  They thrive on being the best of the best.  The feeling that whenever they walk in to a room everyone stops what they're doing & just stares at them in awe.  Think Mean Girls x's 10.  They play practical jokes on the people who they view as 'beneath them'.  Some jokes go way too far though & literally push one girl over the edge (of the road).

It's just an ordinary day in Sam's life, but this day gets put on repeat seven times no matter how many changes she attempts to make in order to save her own life.  The first day ends with Sam being in a car crash with all 3 of her best friends, coming home from a party.  Sam knows she died.  But instead of waking up to the 'after life', Sam wakes up in her bed with the alarm going off signaling that the same day is starting over again.  At first we go through the motions with Sam.  She is confused as to what is happening, feels almost in a dream-like state.  But then as the days begin to repeat, she starts to realize that she has the power to change things.  One day she lives to the extreme by dressing as inappropriate as she can get away with & telling everyone the harsh truth that no one ever wants to hear.  She figures she's already going to die, so what difference does it make?  Another day she spends mourning the fact that it is her last day & wants to cherish each moment, live life to the fullest.

I had a hard time following the story at this point because I started to lose the POINT of it.  I get that the author was trying to send a message that any day can be your last day & that what you choose to do with it, is ultimately up to you.  The decisions you make & the choices you decide effect not just you, but everyone around you.  It can spiral out of your control and leave you weightless.  I felt that this message kept being repeated though & we just saw different versions of it.  It took me a good 200 pages before I even felt connected to the story.  Once there became a real connection between Sam and her childhood friend Kent, then I started to flip the pages.  I found some substance and wanted to know what happened next between the two of them.  Sadly, that is the only reason I kept reading.

I got bored with the same day scenario and how would Sam choose to live her life this time around?  Finally by the 5th or 6th day she realizes she can try to make things right & a little less painful.  The girl that I mentioned before that her & her friends tormented attempts to commit suicide at the end of each day.  Sam takes on the mission of trying to prevent this from happening.  She feels that if she can stop this one girl, then maybe it will change her ultimate outcome too.  I will not give away the ending for those who have not read it yet, but I was very disappointed in how this all wrapped up.  It just stopped.  And I didn't feel closure to the story.  Lauren Oliver could have made Sam wake up for an 8th day if she wanted to.  I guess maybe that was the point?  No matter how many chances we get, no matter what changes we make, things happen.

I know that Lauren Oliver has a new book titled Delirium that is due out in 2011.  I read Before I Fall so that I could get a sense of her writing style before I read the next one.  Some authors grab you from page 1 and pull you in immediately.  Other authors, it takes a while to simmer between the pages before it finally takes a hold of you and that may be how I feel about this author.  I applaud Lauren Oliver for writing with such depth & I do want to check out her next novel.  This one will not be on my top reads list for 2010 though.



  1. Okay, okay, I respect your opinion. Plus, your review was super respectful and thoughtful, and what better way to write a negative review? So sorry you disliked it though...I know how hard it can be to try to get through a book you just aren't feeling. I feel bad I amped it up so much for you! Happy to hear you're still willing to give Delirium a chance though.
    PS: I LOVE THIS BOOK. That is all. :)

  2. Awww, so sad you didn't like it. This was one of my favorite books of the year but I respect your opinion, not every book will be for everyone and I love your honest review. =D You should definitely give Delirium a try when it comes out, I loved it!

  3. It's a shame you didn't really enjoy this book (I'm another that loved it) but well done for continuing through it. Excellent and well-thought-out review, and I hope you like Delirium better when you get to reading it.

  4. I felt exactly the same way about this book. When I first saw it and read the summary I thought it would be great. But in the end I thought that it was just kind of repetitive. It did have a great message, and the writing was well done but it just a lot of the same scenarios and situations over and over again. I am super psyched for Delirium though!

  5. Like you, I've read tons of reviews of this one that have been glowing, but sometimes we just don't connect to a book even though it's appealed to a ton of other people. I thought you did a beautiful job of explaining why it wasn't for you without bashing it or ripping it apart. I haven't read this one yet, but I am looking forward to Delirium:)

  6. Great review! It's nice to find one that's not the same as all the rest. Congrats on writing a negative review, in a respectful way! You did better than I could have done.
    Thanks for following, just stopping by from the hop. Following you now too! =]

  7. I have this on my shelf and will read it soon. I am even more curious about this book. I'll let you know if I loved it or not.

  8. I haven't read it yet, but I've wanted to because of all of the great reviews. I understand what you mean though. There are some books that people just love and I get so excited to read. When I finally get to read them though, I'm disappointed. I'm sorry you didn't like it. Maybe you'll like Delirium better?

  9. I gave this book a positive review, but I agree with you about the ending, it was horrible.

  10. I enjoyed the book, but like you, I was disappointed in the ending. I totally expected Sam to find a way to save both herself and the other girl. I wanted her to find happiness with Kent.


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