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!
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.
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 :).