Title: Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
Published: October 25, 2010 by HarperCollins
Genre(s): YA, Contemporary, Fantasy
For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—”Cupid Day”—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.
However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam 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 ever imagined.
I love, love, love this book. I loved it when I first read it probably around 5 years ago, and I love it now.
This book is told through the perspective of queen bee Samantha Kingston, whose safety bubble of popularity and power suddenly bursts and she struggles to cope with who she is without it. I decided to reread this book on February 12th, because this book takes place all in one day (well, seven different variations of the same day). And that day is, you guessed it, February 12th. Also known in this book as Cupid Day, a day where high schoolers (is that a word??) get roses from their fellow high schoolers, and a day that is basically just a huge popularity contest. So, fast forward, Sam and her friends go to this party the night of Cupid Day, and get into a fatal car accident when driving home. (Don’t worry-this isn’t a spoiler, it’s literally on the first page) And Sam has to relive the day she died over and over and over: desperately trying to save her life, realizing the impact of her actions, and seeing how she affects the world around her. It’s like a darker version of the movie Groundhog Day. And I love it. I know I already said that. Just wanted to remind you guys. I love this book. So much.
Why do I love it? Good question, glad you asked:
- The characters!! I loved their progression. They start off the book being very much like the cliche popular girl types: mean, shallow, materialistic, etc., etc. But as the book continues on, Sam and her friends get more and more 3D. They start to feel like real people. Their edges get sharper and they become more distinguishable. They also honestly all have such a good relationship. I got jealous of how close-knit their friendship a couple times. It really prioritizes the importance of having people who can challenge you, laugh with you, and be there for you.
“Lindsay was freaking out. I told you, she was really upset.”
“It’s true though, isn’t it? What I said.”
“It doesn’t matter if it’s true.” Ally shakes her head at me. “She’s Lindsay. She’s ours. We’re each other’s, you know?”
- It’s…actually kind of scary. Since a lot of the book deals with the theme of death, the book gets heavier and more unsettling as the story unravels. All the buried anger and secrets that these characters have starts to morph into this terrifying, looming presence that shifts the story’s mood. It’s subtle enough that you can laugh at something on one page and get chills on the next page without noticing a change in pace. It’s impressive, honestly.
- The writing. There’s something so relatable about the way Sam is written, even though I wasn’t exactly popular in high school and have no reason to relate to her. Lauren Oliver’s style is so good, just the way she describes situations and her characters, you just find yourself nodding along with whatever she says. Which is kinda weird. But also cool.
- The plot. Okay, that’s kind of an obvious one. But if you’re looking for a contemporary with a more serious, adult-ish twist, read this one. Even after five years, it still stuck with me. Probably because I was like 13 or 14 and it scarred me a little. But still. (Also: don’t read this if you are 13 or 14 unless you want to experience a mini existential crisis)
Why I couldn’t give it 5 stars:
- It was mean. But like, of course it is. It has to be, since a huge plot point focused on Sam shedding her ignorant and egotistic mean-girl skin and gaining a new perspective. But there were things she and her friends said and did (especially in the beginning) that left a bad taste in my mouth, and those little things chipped away at that perfect 5 star rating.
That’s my review! Did any of you guys read this? Did you love it too? Did you hate it? Are you as excited for the movie as I am?? Let me know!