So I was so extremely excited to read this book, I have been for so long and when I saw the library finally got it, I almost screamed. I'll link to some positively wonderful reviews at the bottom so you can get some different opinions. If you check out my Kiss and Tell post, you can see what my predictions for this book would be.
Summary (from Goodreads):
What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?
Samantha Kingston has it all—looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined.
My Expectations: Very high. I’m pretty sure everyone’s been somehow affected by the hype surrounding this book. I expect nothing less than getting my mind blown.
Delivery: pretty well, it didn’t meet my exceedingly high expectations but a very strong effort. Mind blowing…unfortunately didn’t occur.
Put-down-ability: LOW! I read this almost all in one sitting (like 5 hours!) so a 2/10, with a 10 being “get it away” and a 1 being “gimme right NOW”.
I know that in my Kiss and Tell meme post, I covered this book. I thought it would be a hit-or-miss, I would side with a side and avoid the happy middle…yeah, I guess I was wrong. This book is pretty solidly in the happy middle of my book enjoyment section.
I liked this book, there’s no doubt about that. It explored the concepts of death, the connections between actions, redemption, and life in general. It was thoughtful, sad, heartbreaking, snappy, and also hopeful and uplifting, which is a very difficult combination to pull off, so kudos to Oliver.
The thing that kept the book from getting a full-on gush review was the pacing and plot. While some people thought the middle days were slower, I actually enjoyed them mostly because Oliver didn’t just change a couple tiny things to see the domino effect. Each day it seemed like Sam had a different outlook, a different way to go about things which kept the plot interesting.
It was just that after the fifth day, I was getting bored. I know, that’s never really a good sign. I was just itching for the “meaningful eureka moment” to happen, I was like “hurry up, already!” throughout the later days. That being said, each day was still special and affect Sam.
While the repeated days moved smoothly along, I’m not sure I cared for some of the stuff that happened during the day that Sam needed to change. For example, I was indifferent to the Anna thing, and didn’t see its point. Some events were unrelated that left me confused. It felt like the author bit of a bit more than she could chew, trying to balance Sam, her friends, her parents, her sister, boyfriend, love interest, enemies, random girls she barely knows, and the other girl (Juliet) to a point where it all became a bit too much. For example, that whole day with the Pugs just showed up, and then in the following days they were never mentioned.
So did I like Sam? Some people think she was an unlikable character, but I personally thought she was strong, well written and very, very well rounded character. I cared about what happened to her, even at the beginning. I disliked her friends though, to be honest. I hated Rob but liked Kent, but disliked the first days of Sam’s attitude towards him.
I actually thought that the point of her ‘meaningful eureka moment’ was that she should ditch her bitchy friends and go hang out with the people she hurt…I know. I’m a clichéd person, what can I say. Did I like how the author handled the friendship at the end? I’m not sure, because to me the things sometimes didn’t really add up. If I had a friend like Lindsay…I wouldn’t have a friend like Lindsay. I wouldn’t be able to be friends with such a frequently-mean person, it would just stress me out :P
I felt if her friends were so important, they deserved to be fleshed out more. I got Elody and Ally mixed up, like even right now I can’t really distinguish them in my head. What I mean by fleshing them out isn’t revealing their deep dark secrets, just that they could have had more ‘screen time’. At the end though, you can tell why these friends are friends, and they show actual "friend qualities"... so I might have to take back my "I disliked her friends" comment, ya know?
I thought the whole concept related to Juliet (haha, you’ll have to read the book to find out what I mean!) had a strong delivery.
Lastly, the writing was flawless. It was fluid, kept me hooked, mirrored the thoughts of Sam perfectly without going overboard, just a stunning debut effort by Lauren Oliver. Here is an example of a quote I loved:
“And then, just at that moment, when I’m no longer sure if I’m dreaming or awake or walking some valley in between where everything you wish for comes true, I feel the flutter of his lips on mine, and it’s too late, I’m slipping, I’m gone, he’s gone, and the moment curls away and back on itself like a flower folding up for the night.”
-page 341 (Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver)
Isn’t that just a gorgeous simile?
8.2/10 – because I thought the book had a great premise, strong (likable? Probably not) characters, impeccable writing, and a good plot. Was it a masterpiece? Ehh, to me, not really. The plot’s pacing towards the end started dragging out, though I appreciated the author’s effort to tackle seven repeating days with twists in each one, I thought the overload of characters and minor storylines did detract from the ‘main thing’ that Sam was learning though. Themes are well represented, and Before I Fall is a thoughtful, entrancing, and gripping book.
I would recommend it to people who enjoy contemporary fiction with a not-so-typical protagonist, wickedly awesome writing, and unique storyline. And a cute boy who draws comics, can’t go wrong there ;) An 8.2/10 is a solid B.
PS- However, if you want to read some reviews that gush about the book, so you can be further convinced to read it (I do recommend you all to read it, because I'm pretty sure my opinion is in the minority) check these very positive Book Reviews out:
Sarah at The Hiding Spot
Robby at Once Upon a Book Blog
Lauren at I was a teenage book geek
Steph at Steph Su Reads
Adele at Persnickey Snark