Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver is a story about a girl named Samantha Kingston who is a popular, typical high school mean girl. 12th of February, Cupid Day, used to be a fun day for her and her friends, this particular one ended badly – she, um, died. But DON’T YOU WORRY! She wakes up the next morning. Except…she wakes up on 12th February. Again. And again. Until she realizes the reason that that was happening was because it was the universe giving her a sign to change something. And it was up to her to decide what.
(PS- what is this angsty af cover xD)
This is the first Lauren Oliver book I have ever read and I was pleasantly surprised. The writing had a steady flow to it and Sam’s narrative was done beautifully. She managed to explain the inner thoughts of a teenager very well, and didn’t leave any petty, messy detail out. Sam’s voice was bitchy and her thoughts toxic, but it felt so authentic and genuine. I love how Oliver captured a character who was not perfect – people like Sam are typically the antagonists in YA books so this was really different and interesting.
Told in seven chapters for seven days, this is YA contemporary (with a non-realistic twist) at it’s best. There is a tremendous amount of character development in Sam in that one week (one day?) – it was an epiphany, a realization, of all the wrongs she ever committed and she was filled with a want to right them. This, in no way justifies any of her past actions, or makes anything better, but it’s a start. I love the complexity that Oliver gave Sam. As the days progressed, we see her attempt to right things in the wrong way and eventually realize that. Each day brought out a new side of Sam – frustration, anger, and finally acceptance.
The only part of the story I didn’t particularly like was the end. It felt very unresolved. I understand what the author was trying to do – a life for a life, Sam’s life for Juliet’s. But it felt like the easy way out. Sam has a realization of everything that she’s done to make her life a living hell, but she never has to live with the consequences of sticking up for Juliet. I would have liked a big Disney scene in the end where everyone is friends again and the mean girls realize how their actions might be impacting others. However, the ending in the book is probably more realistic. Maybe if we just got an epilogue…?
Another thing that really bothered me – Kent. That wonderful boy. I feel so bad for him because the girl he was pining after finally noticed him and then she just…died. He deserved so much more than he got.
All in all, this is genuinely one of the best books I have read in a really long time and I loved every second. Definitely one of my new favourites and I’m very excited to read more by Lauren Oliver. This is also going to have a movie out soon! I’m super pumped for that as well. Contemporary fiction with a surreal twist at it’s absolute best.
Have you read this book? Do you like Lauren Oliver? What is your favourite book by her? Have you read any similar books?