Before I Fall
What if you only had 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 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times 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.
I know that Before I Fall has been loved by quite a few readers, and there is certainly reason for that. Lauren Oliver writes like a poet, and the plot is strong-holding and engaging. Unfortunately, for me, that just doesn’t seem to cut it as I was expecting a bit something more from such a hyped novel.
A mix of Groundhog Day and Mean Girls, in Before I Fall our story is about 17-year-old Samantha Kingston. Samantha is your typical “popular girl.” She has everything a girl could ever want – the perfect boyfriend, the best clothes, and great friends. But one fateful day, she dies in a car crash. She lives the last day of her life seven times (until she realizes and corrects her mistakes) and, and she realizes that maybe she never was really alive until the day she died; and that maybe there’s more to life than popularity.
The writing here is absolutely exquisite. Lauren Oliver is a natural with words. The way she can arrange them to make something so beautiful, so complex, is beyond me. The whole book is filled with beautiful imagery and description, amazing precision and attention-to-detail, and multiple figures of speech.
Here’s another thing to remember: hope keeps you alive. Even when you’re dead, it’s the only thing that keeps you alive.
Personally, what I liked about Oliver’s characters is that they’re so well-developed. They all feel like real people to me, and that made it all the easier to connect to them on an emotional level. Oliver isn’t afraid to show the good and bad of humanity – from Lindsay and Sam to Juliette and Kent.
What I really liked about our protagonist, Samantha Kingston, is her amazing character development. She starts out at the beginning of the story as a mean, shallow, selfless bully who believes – wrongly – that everything should revolve around her “just because she’s popular.” And to that, Samantha, I say…
I would have liked more background on some of the minor characters however. We have a lot of character background information on some of the more major characters, but what about the more minor characters? I felt that there were some characters who had some decent amounts of depth in them that didn’t really get the thorough exploration they needed in the novel.
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 it, let it slide like coins through you 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.
I also feel a bit ambivalent about the ending as well. I know it left some readers teary-eyed, and I can certainly understand why; but for whatever reason it didn’t provoke the same reaction on me. Maybe I wasn’t connected to the characters enough to feel for them?
While I can’t say I have the same giddy praise about it as most bloggers, I did think it was thought-provoking and powerful, and would definitely say it is a decent contemporary despite any misgivings it might have had.