Release Date: March 2nd 2010
Publisher: Harper Collins
Also by this Author: Delirium; Liesl & Po; Pandemonium
Buy It: Book Depository
A terrible accident takes Samantha Kingston's life. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she relives 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.This novel wasn't perfect, but it was incredible. This is the fourth book I've read by Lauren Oliver, and sadly it's the final one she's published (so far, at least). It's also her debut novel, which makes it even more impressive in retrospect.
At first glance, the idea of reliving the same day seven times seems like it would be very repetitive and dull. But by changing tiny actions, Sam alters the course of the day, and ultimately, her life. The way Oliver accomplishes this means that with each new day, the reader learns new, and crucial information about Sam. There was only one of the seven days– when she steals her mom's credit card and spends it with a new group of a gossipy friends– that had me less interested. The main reason for that was the introduction of a whole bunch more characters, that I didn't really have a chance to care about. My other minor peeve with the novel was Oliver's description of eyes, sky blue and grass green, that get re-used (for the same two characters, but still) too often for my own taste.
Otherwise, Before I Fall was an incredible and original novel. From the first scene, Sam isn't a likable main character, but she did grow on me throughout the novel, and while some of her friends (Lindsey) didn't, at least I came to understand them better. I love the way Oliver slips the reader into the mind of the bully, the popular girl, the one that as a reader, I've heard from a whole lot less than the recluse or outcast. Despite everything Sam does, and the growth she undergoes, there were still things I didn't like about her at the end, but that only makes her more human.
As in her other novels, Oliver's writing in Before I Fall is impeccable, with just the right amount of beautiful description, mixed with easy to read text, clear storylines and authentic characters. Even before I picked up this novel, Lauren Oliver was one of my very favourite writers, but this book just reminds me why. Her incredible skill as a writer, her amazing ability to get inside a character's head– and to share those emotions and conflicts on the page– continues to astound me. I keep using the word incredible in this review, because it's what keeps running through my head as I think back at this book, and what will certainly be its lasting impact.
Before I Fall has easily gained a place in the list of my favourite novels, comfortably at home with Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, the book that got me to start reading young adult fiction again. And I'm so glad I did, or I never would have discovered this amazing gem.