Monday, May 9, 2011

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.

Hardback, 2010, 470 pages. Library copy.

In this book, Samantha Kingston dies. She then relives her last day on earth six more times. Through the week, she learns new things about her friends and her school, she talks with people she never would have before, and she changes from a mean girl to a happier, more accepting person.

This is such an interesting premise. Seriously, how did she think of this? I know that's kind of a lame question because when people ask me the same questions, I don't have an answer. The human mind is just so creative, and Lauren Oliver has loads of creativity and talent. You'd think that Sam living one day over seven times would get boring, but the author really takes the characters and shakes them around. Something new happens each day, and as Sam struggles to find closure, you can see her changing.

I loved the varying characters in this book. There are a lot of minor characters, and occasionally I couldn't tell them apart, but for the most part, they're all unique and interesting. Sam's friends, too. I think Oliver fell into that "high school royalty vs. everyone else" stereotype a few times in this book. I only went to a public school for one year, and while there are obvious differences, popularity levels, and cliques, I really don't think it's this extreme. I have other people who would agree, but it's a setting that works in many novels, including this one. It still makes you think about your actions, about the way you treat other people, about the reasons behind your attitudes and behaviors.

After reading this book, I still felt like there was something missing from the story. It took me a while to realize it, but when I read a review on Goodreads, I realized it was Sam's friends and their redemption. Slight spoilers: Though Sam goes through a transformation from the beginning to the end of the book, Sam's friends are kind of left as mean girls. Yes, we see some of their motivations, and Lindsay is definitely more explored than Elody and Ally, but I was still left wondering if they realized the wrong of any of their actions. I don't think people change quickly, though. I like how the author didn't make Juliet's story simple, and I know if Sam's friends were to change, we wouldn't see it within a week. Maybe that's the point, that this is Sam's story. But I still would have liked to see someone other than Juliet call out Lindsay. End of spoilers.

Lauren Oliver has a great way with language, especially with repeated metaphorical images such as birds in flight. This was the type of book where I was reading it so quickly to get to see what would happen, and I had to force myself to slow down to enjoy the beautiful language of it. I highly recommend it and I will definitely check out Delirium. I put a hold on it at the library already!

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