Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Copyright 2010
Harper - Young Adult Fiction
470 pages

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.

©2010 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. I didn't know you were reading this one! I very much agree with you on all aspects of this book. It's been a few months since I read it and it's still very vividly rolling around in my head as well. In fact, the more I think of it, the higher the score I'd give it. Quite an awesome way to look at life actually.

  2. Everyone seems to love this book - I really need to make the time to read it.

  3. I loved, loved, loved this book! It's definitely on my list of the top ten books I read for the year! I can't wait to see what she comes up with next, either!

  4. Great review! I've been hearing about this one and I must read it.

  5. Tammy,

    I don't think I even mentioned the fact that I was reading Before I Fall in BB -- not sure, but I started it just before we left for Tulsa and finished it there. I already feel the same way. The more I think about it, the more I love the book. I've seen it mentioned as a cross between Groundhog Day and Mean Girls, but I think there's a little bit of It's A Wonderful Life thrown in, as well. Definitely agree -- it's a great way to look at life.


    It's worth rushing out to buy, in my humble opinion. I've actually read two books that I was tempted to begin all over again, this month, and Before I Fall was one of them.

    Rhapsodic One,

    Same here. Before I Fall is definitely going to land in my top ten for 2010. I was impressed. Now, if I can just swing an ARC of her next book. Where does one go to beg for YA ARCs? I haven't succeeded at that, just yet.

  6. I have seen so many wonderful glowing reviews on this one. Why am I waiting?!

  7. Iliana and Coffee and Book Chick,

    Yes, you must. Both of you must read it, right away. Go forth and purchase (or check out, if you're lucky enough to have a decent library).

    And, thank you, Iliana. :)

  8. I can't wait to read this one. It is eyeing me from the bookshelf!

  9. Rebecca,

    That cover does have a tendency to stare one down. LOL Quit waiting and read it. You won't have any regrets, I promise.

  10. I absolutely loved this book. It was such a great surprise - I wasn't expecting to like it so much.

  11. Alyce,

    Same here. I was a little worried that it might be depressing, but the idea was interesting enough that I figured it was worth a try. Boy, what a surprise. :)

  12. I must get my hands on this!! Groundhog Day was such a cool movie so I'm interested to see how the idea of living a day over and over translated to the written word. I've stumbled on so many books that I pick up at the store and then put down again and again. Of course, in the end, I eventually buy the book or borrow it from a friend and find myself totally enthralled. We should trust our literary instincts, I suppose. :)

  13. Rosemary,

    I was very pleasantly surprised at how well this idea was handled (and apparently everyone else was, too -- we'll likely hear a lot about Lauren Oliver, in the future). Yes, isn't that interesting how some books that you pass up end up continuing to whisper, "Read me, read me," from afar?

    I have such a terrible library that when I saw a copy of Before I Fall, I fear I snatched it off the shelf and clutched it to my chest like I was afraid someone would steal it from me. LOL It was actually paid for by a grant from the local paper factory. They happily dump chemicals into the river, pay their fine and then donate money for books (made with paper, of course) to the library. At least some good is coming from the nasty smell we have to put up with.

  14. I've read quite a few posts on this one, but yours is the first one that's made me actually want to give it a try! :)

  15. Eva,

    Really? How cool! You've just given me my warm fuzzy for the day. :) I hope you do read Before I Fall. I liked it enough that I wanted to read it all over again, but I don't really have time to do that.


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