Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
I’ve heard this book described as Mean Girls meets Groundhog Day but I think that does it a huge disservice. It is so much better than that. Don’t get me wrong, I do love both of those films but I feel like this book goes so much deeper. It drew me in completely and left me feeling a bit wrung out for days. It’s actually been more than a week since I read it and I still feel like I have a bit of a book hangover.
“Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there’s a tomorrow. Maybe for you there’s one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around in it, let it slide like coins through your fingers. So much time you can waste it. But for some of us there’s only today. And the truth is, you never really know.”
The story starts very much like Mean Girls with main character Samantha Kingston at the top of the social pyramid. She and best friends Lindsey, Elody and Abby rule the school. They can do whatever they like and everyone loves them regardless. Most of the time it’s harmless fun but at others they are downright nasty. They don’t care about anyone else and have no idea of the consequences of their actions. They think they are immortal.
On the way home from a party one night however there is an accident and Sam dies….and then she wakes up and starts the day over. As the same day repeats over and over Sam begins to realise that all of her actions have consequences and that she has the power to change things. She has to find a way to end the cycle but can she save her own life or is she destined for some other purpose?
At the start of this story I wasn’t too sure about it. I wasn’t one of the popular girls at school so I didn’t really relate to Sam and if I’m honest I didn’t particularly like her or her friends. They were just so self centred, mean and irresponsible. Sam frustrated me as she was one of the few who’d gone from the middle of the school social hierarchy to the top and was happy to ditch her previous friends as they were no longer on her level. She actually argues that the school hierarchy is just preparing people for real life.
This, as well as my attitude towards her, started to change as she progressed through the novel. As the day repeats over and over again she moves through a mixture of emotions, denial, anger, depression and acceptance. Her character is forced to develop and with only a limited time left she starts to realise what really matters. At that point I couldn’t help but care about her. I loved the day she decided that nothing mattered and went completely off the rails but even more I loved the day she decided to stay home from school and spend the day with her little sister. That was the point at which my heart broke a little and I realised how much I wanted her to find a way to survive.
Lauren Oliver’s writing is incredible. I found it a little slow at the start but it’s like the rest of the book in that it gradually draws you in and makes everything feel so real. The dialogue and the relationships were very well developed and seemed completely believable. I particularly loved the relationship between Sam and childhood friend Kent who she ditched when she became popular. It was amazing to read Sam start to realise what an incredible and genuine person he was, unlike her boyfriend. The parts where they were together were my favourite of the whole story. I wanted their relationship to work so badly.
I want to talk so much about the ending of this book but I’m determined not to give any spoilers. Let me just say it was breath taking and absolutely perfect. I’m looking forward to reading more books by this author.
4 thoughts on “Book Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver”
Loved reading your review, and glad to hear you loved this book, it’s one of my favourites! In fact, I think it’s my favourite YA book of all time. I didn’t like Sam to begin with either, but the character development was excellent and I cared so much about her by the end of the book.
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Thanks. It is such a great story. Have you read any of Lauren Oliver’s other books? Just wondering if they are as good.
I have read the Delirium trilogy, Panic and Vanishing Girls! I’ve enjoyed most of them (although I wasn’t the hugest fan of Panic), but I don’t think any of them have had quite as big an emotional impact on me as Before I Fall! I love the first 2 Delirium books (and really love the concept), however I was a bit disappointed with the final book. Vanishing Girls was a great book though, probably my favourite Lauren Oliver book after Before I Fall. I lover her writing style!
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I’ve heard a few people say Before I Fall is the best so it may have been a mistake for me to start with it 🙂
I do have Delirium but haven’t had a chance to read it yet. Based on this book I am looking forward to reading it.