Book 31: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
What would you do if you only had one day to live? Many people think about it, but Samantha Kingston actually has to decide. She gets seven chance to relive her last day. What does she do, what does she learn, and is she too late to save herself?
At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book. The main character, Samantha, and her friends get into a car accident, and the main character dies. That’s the opening of the novel. Then she gets to relive her last day for a week, and we get to learn more about her. After watching the first two days, I have to admit I was sort of glad that she had died. She was obnoxious. Her friends were obnoxious. They torment people for no real reason (or at least not a good reason), and they’re just, well, mean. I know these books are supposed to make us understand that the popular kids have bad lives, too, and that that’s supposed to somehow justify the way they treat others, but I’ve never bought into that. I don’t feel sorry for Samantha because her boyfriend’s lousy. I think she’s an idiot for sticking with him. I really spent the first half of the book hating all the main characters and hoping that they all died in that car accident, not just Samantha.
And yet I kept reading.
That shows how great Lauren Oliver is as a writer: I could hate the main characters and still not want to put the book down. For me, that’s saying something. I almost stopped reading Jane Eyre and Huck Finn in high school because certain scenes were too much for me to handle. I only kept reading those because I knew my grade would suffer if I didn’t. No one was forcing me to read this book, and yet I wanted to keep reading, even through the hard-to-stomach parts.
Part of that is because I like the way it was written. There’s just enough description for you to picture what she’s talking about with there being so much that I had to skim paragraphs, like I sometimes do with novels (*cough*LordoftheRings*cough*). I particularly liked that she described the sky on two different occasions, and the way the same sky looks different to her on those days really helps show how much she’s changing. There were also some parts that I could relate to, which was nice and unexpected. I also loved how we kept seeing the same day over and over again but that we learned more details about that day as we went on.
There were a few parts of the book that I didn’t like. Samantha does something at the end of the book that she thinks will be nice and I don’t really understand how she would think that. I guess that just goes to show how clueless she is sometimes. But the only main problem I had with the book were the random asides to the audience where we were beaten over head with the message (everyone’s nasty sometimes/tomorrow’s not a guarantee, so change your life today, while you can/appreciate the little things). Oliver does a great job at showing us those messages in the actual story. We don’t really need them to be told to us like that.
Other than that, though, I loved the book. The last half of the book changed my mind about wanting Samantha to die. I couldn’t put the book down. This book made me cry while I was reading it and after I was finished with it, and any book that makes me keep crying after I finish it automatically gets extra points, as not every book can affect me like that. This book also gets extra points because I don’t usually change my mind about characters that I hate with that much passion, especially popular people who make others miserable. Oliver even made me not hate certain side characters as much, which I never thought was possible given what these characters have done.
I loved this book. I definitely recommend this novel.