Recommended Read: Lauren Oliver’s “Before I Fall”

This is another young adult book – as those of you have read my blog for a while know, because I write young adult I prefer to read that in my spare time too as it helps me ‘keep up’ with my genre.

I actually heard about this on Peas and Crayons, when Jenn said she was going to be picking this book up next. I am always intrigued to hear about new YA novels so I instantly Googled it and it was intrigued by the premise:

Told through the eyes of teenager Samantha Kingston, the book begins with her being killed in a car accident on the way home from a party (this is not a spoiler; this is what the whole book is based on). We then follow Sam as she wakes up for the next seven days only to relive her last day over and over again in a kind of morbid Groundhog Day scenario.

My thoughts? First and foremost, author Lauren Oliver has done a fabulous job of capturing a teen voice. There wasn’t a second in the book when I thought “A teenager wouldn’t say that”, which was refreshing for sure but also frustrating – teenagers are frustrating!

Author Lauren Oliver - Copyright to girlsinthestacks.com

The challenge for most readers will be the fact that at the beginning of the book, Sam is not a likable character at all. Some who had high school experiences where they did things they weren’t proud of may relate to Sam but you can’t honestly say you like her. Oliver even said in a GoodReads interview:

“I actually give credit to the blogosphere, because I would see on blogs, “I really don’t like this main character, but I’ve seen so many other blogs telling me just to keep going, so I will.” I think that had my book been published before the blogosphere existed, it would not have had the same success and reception.”

However, if you stick with her, the redemption of the book is that you grow to like her the more you grow to understand her – and the more she understands herself and her friends, the more she changes too. It is a powerful tale of redemption, for sure.

Oliver is also writing a dystopian trilogy - Delirium - so if you want another dystopic type novel check these out, though I have not read them myself. Let me know if they're good!

As adults we see where Sam should end up quite early on, and therefore perhaps it’s somewhat predictable in its ending, but it’s not the ending that is the point of this book. It’s the journey, and the way she gets there. In that I feel Oliver did a masterful job – revealing twists and secrets that keep the reader entertained while also relaying a powerful message about the importance of life and the actions we do each and every day. It focuses quite a lot on the butterfly effect, and how one action can trigger 100 others. It’s quite profound in that way.

The only part I found tough was the fact that by Day 3 or so I was bored of reliving this day! If she wrote about going to TCBY for fro-yo one more time I would have gone nuts. Thankfully Oliver – or a great book editor – realized this and towards the end she doesn’t go through the days second by second anymore but rather highlights some key parts instead.

A really worthwhile read. It will stay with you after you put it down. And I read that it’s been optioned by Fox 2000 for movie rights, so we may see it on the big screen sometime soon :).

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Comments

  1. I just finished this book and loved it. I couldn’t put it down and I also really appreciated the realness of the teenagers. Particularly liked how Sam had to confront her past behaviour.

    • Yes, the author didn’t let her get away with much, which I really appreciated as I feel that if she had you wouldn’t have ended up liking Sam too much – and not liking the main character is always an issue!

  2. I started Delirium on Friday and I’m almost done! Really unique look at love from a dystopian view, I’m loving it and not wanting it to end right now! Since starting this book I’ve heard many great things about “before I fall” as well, so that is definitely on my list now!

    • I’m glad to hear you like Delirium. I really wanted to try it but have read so many dystopic YA series lately that I thought I should wait and try something different and then see if I still wanted to go back to it afterwards. Appreciate the recommendation!

      • haha that’s what I thought that i’m ODing on dystopian YA, but this one’s a bit different. Really great writing style, as I’m sure you know. And I started reading 2 other books since my last dystopian that were hard to get into so i saved them for audiobook road trip type books, while i read another “can’t get away, addicting book” on my kindle, lol

      • The audiobooks idea is a great one – I have laser eye surgery this Thursday and went to the YA section of my local library and got a whack of audiobooks out, seeing as there will be no reading/watching TV/going on the computer for 4 or 5 days after. I have actually never listened to an audiobook – I didn’t think I’d find it as easy to follow as reading – but I guess I’ll find out soon!

      • Since a book really has to be addicting for me to be able to just sit and read, I’m a huuuuge audiobook junkie. Especially for road trips or at the gym. I’m always listening to a book! It gets my mind off the task and the time flow by waay faster! But I know what you mean, sometimes your mind wanders and you have to refocus! Good luck with your surgery, the audiobook idea will be perfect for that!

      • Thanks for the encouragement! I’m really looking forward to giving audiobooks a try, even if I’m not looking forward to the surgery :p

  3. Beautiful Book cover- those eyes are piercing. I can’t wait to start my summer reading on the beach schedule : )

    • It is a nice cover – what’s funny is I read it on my Kindle so hadn’t seen the book cover until I searched for the image for this blog post, and that’s not how I imagined Sam at all haha. The book describes her as dark hair/eyes! But nevertheless, I liked the image too 🙂

  4. Sam @ Fit for my Fork says:

    This sounds like a book I’d really like. Thanks so much for the recommendation!

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