Before I Fall is written by Lauren Oliver. It was published in 2010 by Harper Collins. It is her first novel. Oliver’s website can be found here.
Genre: Realistic, Tough Read
“Samantha Kingston has it all: the world’s most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.
Instead, it turns out to be her last.
Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.”
“Then all of a sudden there’s a flash of white in front of the car. Lindsay yells something…and suddenly the car is flipping off the road and into the black mouth of the woods. I hear a horrible, screeching sound—metal on metal, glass shattering, a car folding in two—and smell fire. I have time wonder whether Lindsay had put out her cigarette—
That’s when it happens. The moment of death is full of heat and sound and pain bigger than anything, a funnel of burning heat splitting me in two, something searing and scorching and tearing, and if screaming were a feeling it would be this.
“Maybe you should come away from the road,” I say, but all the time in the back of my head, there’s an idea growing and welling, a horrible, sickening realization, massing up and taking shape like clouds on the horizon. Someone calls my name again. And then, still in the distance, I hear the throaty wail of “Splinter” by Fallacy pumping from someone’s car.
“Sam! Sam!” I recognize it as Kent’s voice now.
Last night for the last time…you said you would be mine again…
Juliet turns to face me then. She’s smiling, but it’s the saddest smile I’ve ever seen.
“Maybe next time,” she says. “But probably not.”
Warnings: So, so many. Swearing, sex, drinking, smoking, death, suicide, drugs. I could go on and on.
Recommended Age Range: 16+ (hesitantly)
What I Liked:
Good theme of redemption. Sam’s struggle to make sense of this Groundhog Day-esque thing that’s happening to her, and her attempts to change it, are very well done. You can really see her change as a person.
Also, it was quite well-written.
Oh, and Sam and Kent are cute. Too bad she’s, you know, dead.
What I Didn’t Like:
This should be old news by now, but in case there are some first-timers floating around here, I’ll once again reference my reviews of Willow and Ashfall and reiterate: I don’t like teenage sex. I don’t like teenage alcohol or drug abuse. And this book was chock-full of it. Way more than Willow, way more than Breaking Beauty or any other YA novel I’ve reviewed on this blog so far.
I read the book completely (I didn’t stop reading once I encountered the hated teenagers-go-down-the-road-of-destruction-and-it’s-taken-as-“normal” ideas). I liked the book (despite its content); more specifically, I liked the theme, Sam’s development, and the way the book ended. But I despised the content. I do my best to be objective, but in cases like this, it’s very hard. It was a good book, but I thought some parts were unnecessary.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll definitely read some more Lauren Oliver. She proved herself to be a talented writer. But this was just a bit too much for me.
Before I Fall has a good theme of redemption and a good show of character development, but there are other books that have the same theme with less destructive decisions involved. I hesitated to even recommend this for sixteen and up.
Coming Up Next: Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick