Thursday, May 6, 2010

Review: Before I Fall

Before I Fall
By Lauren Oliver
Publication date: March 2, 2010
My rating: *****

My review:

Samantha Kingston is one of the most popular girls at school, the kind of girl who gets invited to the best parties and inspires awe and envy in the other students. Cupid Day, February 12th, begins like usual with her best friends Lindsay, Elody, and Ally riding together to school and discussing important things like how many flowers they thought they'd get and Sam's special plans for that night with her boyfriend. What Sam didn't know was that it would be the last day of her life. That night she is in a car accident. The next thing she hears is an alarm clock waking her up-on February 12th. At first she thinks it was all a dream and that she is experiencing déjà vu but Sam soon realizes that she is reliving the day of her death. She has the opportunity to do things differently but is it too little too late?

I wasn't sure if I would like Before I Fall. I had read some reviews where Sam seemed to be a "mean girl" and sometimes I can't stand to read books with main characters that are so cruel. However I was quickly relieved to find that Sam was a very human and sympathetic character. She did make some mistakes and she could be mean or self centered at times but she also cared about people. Throughout the book she grows and as she relives her last day over and over she sees the bad choices that she has made and she does try to do something positive. I started to really root for her to find a way out of her fate and to have a chance to make things right.

Sam's best friends are all unique individuals which I really appreciated about their characters. Sometimes in cliques it is like there is a queen bee and then the others are kind of empty headed or without personality because they just try to emulate the queen bee. That was not the case here. Lindsay is the most popular girl in their clique but Ally, Elody, and Sam have their own personality. Even though they can be hurtful to others sometimes, they really love each other and try to look out for each other. Sam's friendship with Lindsay is particularly important to the story. Sam was not always popular but after she joined Lindsay in playing a practical joke at a slumber party they became the best of friends. They do everything together and in a way Sam looks up to Lindsay.

Sam's boyfriend is Rob Cokran, an incredibly popular senior who thinks he is too good for her. He has been pressuring her to sleep with him and she finally agrees to do so on Cupid Day because his parents will be out of town and she just wants to get it over with. Rob is a really shallow jerk and Sam says she loves him but it doesn't seem like she does. The other guy who is interested in Sam is Kent McFuller, the odd guy who is on the fringes of being popular but doesn't seem to care what people think about him. It is his party that Sam and her friends go to later that night. Kent and Sam used to be friends when they were little, before she became popular. As Sam relives the day over and over she comes to care about Kent and finds herself drawn to him. He is a sweet guy and one of my favorite characters in the book. I really wanted Sam to be with him.

I found Before I Fall to be a very moving and beautifully written story. At one point Ally comments on how everything is connected, saying that a butterflies in Thailand could cause a rainstorm in New York. Although she gets the quote wrong and the girls laugh about it the theme is something that becomes important to Sam. She realizes that one little change in the choices she made on the day she died could lead to other events happening or not happening. That was something that I kept thinking about as I read the novel. I was also moved by Sam's relationship with her little sister Izzy. On one day she chose to stay home instead of going to school and she spent the day with her sister. I thought it was really sweet and sad at the same time. Before I Fall is a novel that will stay with me for a long time. There were parts of the book that made me smile and laugh and parts that made me want to cry. It made me think, feel deeply for the characters, and react to what I was reading-some of the hallmarks of an excellent book. Before I Fall has already been nominated for YALSA's  Best Fiction for Young Adults list and I am sure it will win other awards as well. It is definitely one of the best books I've read this year.


  1. I've been on the edge deciding whether or not to buy this book, and after reading your review-I'm going to have to buy it very soon. Thanks

  2. I've seen several reviews for this one, it seems like it is a promising read. Thanks for the thorough review.

  3. This book has caught my attention a few times now. Thanks for the review - I'm now going to add it to my TBR list!

    Oh, I have something for you:

  4. I 've been wanting to the book for so long but there's no copy at ant local bookstore sad.

    great review by the way!

  5. I just got this book last week and am anxious to read it. Your review is awesome and now I think I need to move this up on the to read next pile. Thanks.

  6. This one is on my TBR list, I was excited to read it but now I am taking my time when choosing YA, I do think this one I will still read.

  7. This is an amazing review Christina! I'm so glad you liked it. I definitely agree, this is one of the best books I've read this year :D

  8. Nice review- I loved this as well! :)

  9. Glad you liked this! I am looking forward to reading this book! I like the premise of living through the same day to avoid something from happening, to be very interesting. Nice review!


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