Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thoughts on Before I Fall

Yesterday I finished reading Lauren Oliver's debut, Before I Fall. I kind of bought this on a whim. It was there on the shelf at the book store during the 20% off everything sale, and it was so pretty and hardcover-y and I had just gotten a big paycheque... love at first sight.

However, I'd read some really mixed reviews about it. Sometimes mixed reviews just propel me into reading a book, because I just have to find out for myself.

Well... I loved it.

It's huge, almost five hundred pages, but I whipped through it in a couple of days because, seriously, it's awesome. It's about a girl who dies, and then has to live the last day of her life over seven times to unravel the mysteries in her life. Like Groundhog Day.

I've noticed recently that dead-main-character books are becoming a huge trend with books like Before I Fall and Gayle Forman's If I Stay, which both harken back to The Lovely Bones.

Anyway... the protagonist, Samantha Kingston, was unbearable in the first few hundred pages of the book. I just hated her. She was a rude, self-centred mean bitch. But as she started to change and develop with each of the days she relives, I began to understand that this was a purposeful move on Lauren Oliver's part. So it was okay in the end, I actually really liked Sam by the end.

Lauren Oliver is a fantastic writer. This book was a breath of fresh air for me. Lately it feels like I've been reading books with kind of flat prose, flat description, boring characters, but this was was the opposite of all of those. The description was absolutely magical in places. And all of the supporting characters were very well-developed, even the dopey superficial Rob, Sam's boyfriend.

And the REAL love interest, Kent... omg, melt. I haven't rooted so hard for a YA pairing in a long time.

But the thing that struck me the most right from the opening pages... Before I Fall paints a bang-on picture of high school. None of this stereotypical cheerleader, jock, geek stuff. Everyone went to big parties together, people were popular or not based on their personalities and what they did, not merely what label they fell under. I was cheering the entire time. At my high school, there were no cheerleaders or football player clich├ęs. No book has ever really presented a high school in a way that resonated with me, and this one really did.

So, I give it a 5/5. If you were on the fence about reading Before I Fall, hesitate no more. Consider this your permission to lose yourself in it.

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