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.
Details: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, 470 pages, 4.14 stars on Goodreads
My Thoughts: I finished this book in a single day, reading about half while waiting for my dentist appointment (and then waiting for my parents to finish their dentist appointments), and the rest of it later at home. It's a long book, so I was able to get nice and into it, and when I completed the book, my eyes had that funny strained feeling that doesn't quite feel bad or good. Now, see, I was actually kind of nervous about starting this book because I've heard a ton of great reviews and no bad ones, so I was scared this book wouldn't be as good as it seemed. My solution was to have super low expectations.
And I wasn't disappointed. Before I Fall was an amazing book, and I'm not entirely sure how to review this book, so I'll start by talking about the characters. Initially, I didn't like Samantha too much, but given the plot summary, I figured she would become more relatable, and she did. I didn't find her a very unique character, because she was basically normal apart from being popular (and with that, a bit bitchy) and having a hot boyfriend. But as she started repeating the days, I could understand her better and relate to her despite the fact that I am very, very far from being popular.
One thing I really loved about this book was that she didn't have the cardboard character cast of friends. Even though her popular friends were also mean at times, she genuinely cared about them, and they cared about her. Lindsey in particular was well-developed, and I felt like I could understand her a little, too. What I did wish was for Ally and Elody to be fleshed out more - I never really quite grasped who they are.
And then, of course, there was Kent. I love that Kent isn't the usual love interest, and that he isn't the Smexy Pinnacle of Smexy Hotness, and that he doesn't have an English accent (what's with that, anyway?). He is, in fact, quite unusual and largely considered a freak. He wears bowler hats to school, even. Oh, and of course, he has a crush on Samantha, but not because she's popular, but because of the Samantha he used to know. It was incredibly frustrating for Samantha and Kent to have a real heart-to-heart and express their feelings and desires, only for Samantha to wake up the next day with everything erased.
The characters weren't the only amazing thing about this book - the writing was wonderful. As Samantha learns and matures and grows, there are these passages that are written so heartbreakingly, so truthfully and honestly and realistically, that I had to read them a few times to ingrain them in memory. Before I Fall had the kind of writing that makes your chest hurt a little bit, and you can bet my brain was going in overdrive as I was simultaneously reading and analyzing analyzing analyzing the structure, the words, the sentences, the emotion, so perfectly captured.
And the ending. I know some people hated the ending, but I think it was perfect. Anything else would have made me upset even though I wished the ending didn't happen - not because it didn't work, but just because by the end, I was so emotionally invested in Samantha. I'm not going to say what happened because it's really the kind of ending that takes you by surprise, the kind of twist that you think you should have seen coming but you didn't. (Or at least I didn't, and I'm usually pretty good at seeing twists ahead of time.)
Overall, this was a great book. The one negative thing I have to say about it is that it slipped from memory quicker than I expected - at least for me, it wasn't exactly the kind of book you think about for days and days afterward, but it did make me run around wishing I could tell someone the ending. Now, two to three weeks later, I haven't thought about it in quite a while, but still. You have to read Before I Fall if you haven't already, because I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Plot - 4/5
Characters - 4/5
Writing - 5/5
Impact - 4/5
Inability to put it down - 3.5/5
Overall - 86% = A-