The cover grabbed me; the story held on. I picked up a copy of Before I Fall and flipped through it at Borders but passed up buying, one day. I did, however, promptly add it to my wish list because the storyline sounded interesting. And, then I found a copy at my library. Excitement!! It's not easy finding fairly new releases at my library -- especially Young Adult novels --and I only had to wait . . . um, maybe 8 months from the release date? Not bad.
Samantha has died in an automobile accident. She remembers it well -- the fear, the pain, the sensation of dying. But, each morning she wakes up alive, only to relive the day of her death.
Sam is pretty, popular and planning to lose her virginity to her boyfriend at a former friend's party (mostly to "get it over with") on her final day. As she and her friends go about their day, the things that stand out are their rudeness to the unpopular crowd and how the entire day they're careening toward the alcohol-fueled party that will lead to Sam's death . . . and that of another girl. But they have no real understanding of how much the little things they do impact other people. When she is forced to relive the day, Samantha slowly begins to understand how she needs to change things to make them right. She sees her boyfriend and the boy who is hosting the party in a totally new light and gradually changes how she interacts with them.
As in the movie Groundhog Day, Sam experiments with making changes to her last day. Some days she tries to be perfect and save her own life; one day she just lets herself go completely wild. She relives her last day 7 times.
In the end, Samantha realizes that the only way she can possibly escape living the same day forever is to make things right. And, how she goes about doing so is not something I can go into because you'll want to enjoy the surprises. The two descriptive words that I think of when I reflect back on the reading of Before I Fall are "consistently surprising". I truly never knew what Sam was going to do, next. It's not wholly unexpected that she redeems herself in the end, but there are questions that really make the book a page turner. For one thing, you have to wonder if Sam will ever be able to save herself. Will she, by learning about her fate and how to prevent it, cease to be dead?
Well . . . I'm not telling. What you need to know is that Lauren Oliver is an amazing writer and Before I Fall is a stellar book in many ways. The author keeps you guessing, allows Samantha to learn slowly enough that the wild premise remains strikingly believable, and even makes a few people who seem truly horrendous reveal their good sides. Oh, and there's a bit of refreshing romance.
The bottom line:
I absolutely loved Before I Fall. I began reading it at home, rechecked it for my trip to Oklahoma and finished the reading of Before I Fall in Tulsa. A week later, it's still rolling around in my head and I am absolutely dying to see what Lauren Oliver comes up with next. Capricious Heather has read Oliver's next title, Delirium, which doesn't come out till February of 2011 and I am sooo envious.
Warnings:Sexual content, drug & alcohol use and . . . I think there's some bad language, but I can't remember. I personally think the author did a good job of using the sex, drugs and alcohol (drunken students falling all over each other and then driving off the road, basically) as object lessons, although she could have gone a bit farther about the dangers of drinking and driving. But, on the other hand . . . Samantha's dead thanks to her drunken friend's driving. That kind of gets the point across.
Tomorrow, I have a book tour and then I hope to return to cranking out reviews like crazy on Friday.