Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver YA Novel Review

Title: Before I Fall

Author: Lauren Oliver

Publisher:  HarperTeen

ISBN: 9780061726804

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

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: 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.

This book is an emotional roller coaster.  At first I could not stand Sam and didn’t really care what happened to her.  She is a follower, and she and her pack of friends are vicious.  They are judgmental, they are petty, and they are mean.  They rule the roost at their small town high school, and they look down their noses at everyone else.  They are cool, they determine who is in the "in" group, and their days are spent in the mindless pursuit of their own gratification.  Sam’s little group is reigned over by Lindsay, a beautiful, charismatic girl who isn’t nearly as good looking once you see at what’s hiding on the inside.  Her razor-blade remarks are cutting and can instantly spiral someone into the depths of untouchable status.  Most of her power comes from fear, because, let’s face it, who wants to be made fun of unmercifully for the remainder of their high school sentence? But even Lindsay has her secrets, and Sam is beginning to understand that they may hold the key to her deliverance.

When Sam dies in a car accident, she is cursed to keep reliving February 12th over and over again.  As the day repeats itself unrelentingly, she discovers that making a change here or there doesn’t free her from the cycle she’s trapped in, but it does cause dramatic changes over the outcome of that particular iteration of the day.  Each reset of this never-ending Friday brings a new set of emotions crashing over her.  Fear, frustration, rage, hope.  It is Sam’s development that kept me on the edge of my seat, her growth from being self-centered and believing that the world revolves around her and her clique, to a much more reflective and kind individual.  At first, she just wants things to go back to the way they were, before the day ended in bone shattering agony of pain and fear.  Then she begins to question her own motivations, and opens her eyes to the flaws in herself and her friends.  This inner growth allowed me to sympathize with her and care about her, and that’s saying a lot, because she is so unlikable at the beginning of the book.

Before I Fall is a gripping read, and it is packed with emotion and suspense.  As Sam careens from one repeated day to the next, I was held spellbound. Literally.  Once she acknowledges her flaws, I couldn’t put the book down.  The book runs you through an emotional wringer, and as Sam progresses from bewilderment, to rage, to acceptance, I often found my heart squeezed with sympathy for her.  The tension became unbearable near the end, as she must weigh the outcome of her actions for every moment of the nightmare day she is trapped in.  Will she ever find redemption, or will she be cursed to endlessly relive the same awful day over and over?  This is a wonderful debut, and I am looking forward to Lauren Oliver’s next effort.

Grade: A-

Review copy provided by publisher

3 thoughts on “Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver YA Novel Review

  • April 5, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Do you think you could explain to me what happens at the end of this book? DOES SHE DIE? DOES JULIET LIVE? i didn’t really get it. But this has got to be one of my all time favorite books i have ever read!

  • April 8, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    this is a good book SO FAR i havent finished it yet but when i do ill comment again

  • April 8, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    i didnt get it really. good book but how could she b alive if shes dead? answer that please, one of those smart viewers who get this book! THANKS!

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