Thursday, August 26, 2010
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Great news-the shipment of books that I mentioned a couple of posts ago came in, so I'm going to be able to read all of them for the Challenge! YES! Today I'm reviewing Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. Here's the synopsis:
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: 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.
Amazing. Let me tell you, I am the pickiest reader in the world. You might not know that since my reviews have been positive (I think that finding good books is some sort of sixth sense for me or something) : ), but that's because I am so careful about choosing the right books so I don't waste my time. I have been pining for this book for months now, and I have to say that it was not a waste of time at all. It was one of the few books that made me cry, made me think, and surprised me more than many other books have in the past.
Samantha Kingston starts out as one of the mean popular girls at the school, her life centered solely around herself-she does horrid things to the school outcasts, fools around with the teacher, cuts class, does whatever she wants and has never experienced any consequences for it. But, one night, coming home from a party, a car crash ends her life.
But that's not the end-far from it. She begins to find herself reliving the same day that she died, and, one she begins to notice the subtler details about the people and things around her, she begins to see that she doesn't truly know what kind of life she's been living-and sees the life that she should have experienced all along.
There was not an ounce of predictability in this book-Lauren Oliver would make you believe fully that one thing happened, then spin the tables around what you once thought was the truth so fast that it jars you-but it instantly makes sense. This book has been instantly compared to the movie Groundhog's Day, but it is so far from that it's not even funny. Each day is not the same; some of the key notes remain unchanged, but Sam is adamant in her quest to make each one as vastly different from the other as possible-and that leads to some truly touching and incredibly heartbreaking moments along the way, as well as a few rash moments that made the story all the more believable. And the way that everything comes together in one way or another in each day is incredible-every key plot line in this story is a multiple-layered secret, and when you peel them back and everything clicks together, it truly is amazing.
As for the characters, Lauren Oliver reminds me of Meg Cabot in the way that she makes her characters seem so realistic and human. Sometimes I forgot that I was reading a book and not Samantha's diary or something; it sounded like the voice of a teenager, with some poetic flavor to what she said. Even though her friends are incredibly flawed and sometimes so cold-hearted, I did grow a tad bit fond of Lindsay, Ally, and Elody-they were loyal to their best friend, even though they did so many harsh things to everyone else. It was easy to love and hate all of them at the same time.
The ending-well, I won't spoil it for you, but I'll just say that it wasn't just one way or the other. It was shocking and moving and forced tears out of my eyes, and I was thinking about it until the wee hours of the morning.
One thing that you should know? This book could change your life. Throughout the book, even through the sweet and humorous moments, you could still feel the despair of Samantha's situation, how desperate she was to change her fate. I know this is going to sound cheesy, but it really did make me think about the way I live my life. Sometimes I take it for granted or don't do enough or everything that I feel like I need to do. I think that occasionally we all have the thought that we'll live forever, but Lauren Oliver proves in so many ways in this book that time is so precious, that we shouldn't let a second of it waste away.
I know that I was gushing, but this book was perfect. You can guess that I gave this book five stars. Again, I know that I have been handing out good reviews a lot lately, but I keep reading amazing books! Or maybe I never met a book I didn't like. Hmm. : )
Until the next review,
I took the synopsis from Lauren Oliver's official website and the pic from her official blog.