Monday, July 2, 2012

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
HarperCollins, 480 pages

"Samantha Kingston experiences her last day on Earth 7 times. She gets to relive the day of her death multiple times trying to discover what happened and trying to make things right before she dies."

Prior to reading Before I Fall, I had read Delirium by Lauren Oliver which is a wonderful dystopian novel that I recommend to those interested in a romance/dystopian book. So, I was expecting to be blown away with this book, but unfortunately this was not the case. I'm not going to say I hated it, but I cannot say I loved it all that much either. It was a book that irritated me, but I also am finding this was probably the author's intentions.

Right off the bat we meet Sam Kingston and her group of superficial, popular, party-going friends. The main reason I found this book irritating was that the characters were annoying in the fact that they were so superficial and "popular." Lindsey is sort of the ring leader of the group and the most obnoxious out of their friendship circle, which is quite exclusive, mind you. The plot of the book centers around Sam's death which she's trying to unravel herself. At the beginning she is just like her friends, Lindsay, Elodie, and Ally. They are mean girls, which inherently reminds me of the movie "Mean Girls" starring Lindsay Lohan. These are girls I would not like to be friends with, girls who are cruel and cruel simply because they can be, because of their status. Sam seems to have anything she could ever want, including a so-called "amazing" boyfriend, Rob. Rob is a complete loser to be honest who seems to only be sticking around because he want's to "get some" to put it bluntly. Again, a majority of these characters are very unlikeable as they start out. Although, the one character I did genuinely like from the beginning was Kent. Kent seemingly has this adorable crush on Sam, mainly because of their friendship that traces way back to the third grade. He's funny, caring, and overall a super sweet kind of guy. As Sam continues to relive the day leading up to her death, she starts to become more conscious of her lifestyle and the main theme in Before I Fall is definitely redemption. Redemption is usually the main theme of many novels and movies as well, but even more so because Sam is not only affecting herself, but she is also affecting those around her. This theme is more than relatable because who doesn't want to be redeemed?

As I was reading through the first day that Sam was reliving, I was thinking to myself, "Wonderful, I get to relive this stupid Valentine Day card handout and a party seven times, hoo-ray!" But thankfully as each day progressed Sam learned mistake by mistake and how to fix things. The first few days I wasn't too into, mainly because the plot wasn't changing as much and fast as I wanted it to. The pacing was a little off in that respect. After those few days and a sort of epiphany hit Sam that her friends were the main problem and that she herself, only added to it, the book started to improve for me. I understand that books aren't created with likable characters, I completely get that, it was the ending that sort of annoyed me in a way too though.

Lauren Oliver, however, is a marvelous writer! She certainly does a terrific job getting into the mind of a "popular" superficial girl and her daily life. The descriptions were detailed and I could basically picture everything happening quite clearly. So, if anything, her writing was great. And I'm not saying it was a terrible book, I just couldn't get as into it as much I had anticipated.

The plot seems repetitive as it starts out, obviously due to the fact that Sam is reliving the same day seven times in a row. But it does take an interesting turn when we find out more about the side characters like Kent and also Juliet Sykes - this apparent "psycho" (who actually is anything but) girl who used to be best friends with Lindsay. I did like watching the side stories unravel and learning more and more about the characters who were a lot more complex than I initially found them to be.

Overall, my opinion of Before I Fall is a bit hard to decipher. I mainly had issues with the book because the characters annoyed me so much that I didn't care what happened to them, and the plot is a bit repetitive in the beginning. But once you read through the entire book, I can see why the characters started out where they did, and same goes for the plot. If you're an absolute fan of Lauren Oliver or an even bigger fan of contemporary fiction, I say read Before I Fall. But if you're like me and get irritated by characters easily, you may want to pass it up. I've heard rave reviews about this novel, so it may just be a personal preference on my part, so don't let my views keep you from reading it.

Rating: 2 stars - I didn't like it. Barely worth borrowing. 

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