Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: Realistic Fiction (some fantasy elements)
Target Audience: Teens - Adults
Number of Pages: Hardcover - 480 pages
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. - Summary from Goodreads
When Samantha Kingston unexpectedly gets killed in a car crash, she awakes alive in her own bed the next morning. Given the chance to relive her last day seven times, she realizes how being a good person leads to a more fulfilling, happy life. Despite the sometimes annoying sexual innuendo, Before I Fall strikingly captures modern teen life. Inspiring readers to become better people, this novel is too meaty and powerful to slip out of one's brain, unlike the many other forgettable novels that reside in the realm of YA fiction.
It took a couple hundred pages to slip into the groove of this book. At the start, I hated the protagonist of Samantha Kingston, a popular mean girl with even meaner friends. She was bratty, obnoxious, shallow, and annoying, and I wondered how I would be able to tolerate the rest of the book while she was the main character. Since she annoyed me, and the beginning of the novel's plot was wishy-washy, I put the book down and decided to read other material. However, I could not have been more wrong about this book; two weeks later, bracing myself for a dreary trudge through a tedious and annoying tale, I buried my nose amidst the pages once more, only to witness the character of Samantha Kingston evolve into a real, lovable person. Before I Fall contains beautifully structured character development. Throughout the novel, Samantha journeys away from her vapid, cruel self and heads towards being a good person with moral values.
Driven by Sam's actions and reactions, the plot cascades over the pages, intertwines itself from beginning to end, and composes a hearty novel that I will remember forever. I enjoyed the concept of Sam living the same day seven times, though it seemed too repetitive in the beginning. However, once the novel picked up momentum, it glued itself to my fingers and hollered at me if I attempted to discard it on the table. Though Sam changed dramatically during the novel, the people around her remained the same. It was as though each time she relived her last day, she wrote on the sandy shore of a beach, leaving imprints only on herself and not on the people around her, because the tide of the ocean would roar in and obliterate any trace of Sam's changes, so the next time she relived, the shore of the beach would be smooth and unmarked. This was frustrating, because I feel as though on her last day, when her changes truly mattered, Sam should have confronted her friends and their cruel actions.
The ending flavored the book bittersweet, wrapped it up in an unpredicted manner, and left me with a sense of feeling as though I had to change my own life like how Sam changed hers. An emotional journey for all readers, Before I Fall captures heartbreak, anger, sadness, and friendship. This compelling novel emblazoned the true meaning of being good onto my mind, and is a must-read for all those who have the time for a long and thoughtful novel.
Cover: 3/5 -- This cover is eye catching, haunting, but nothing special. I really like the placement and font of the title.