Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver - They say to live every day as if it's your last - but you never actually think it's going to be. You always think you'll have more time.

That's what I thought. But I was wrong.

The thing is, you don't get to know when it happens. You don't remember to tell your family that you love them or - in my case - remember to say goodbye to them at all.

What if, like me, you could live your last day over again? Could you make it perfect? If your whole life flashed before your eyes, would you have any regrets? Are there things you'd want to change?
From the back cover

There's something that amazes me about books. I've read quite a lot over the years, and most of them have been really good books. I have a lot of them amongst my favourites. But every so often I come across a book, a jewel that is just so incredibly good, when I finish it's like time stops for a short while, and I just sit there in astonishment. Astonishment over how amazing the book was, and feeling incredibly lucky that I happened to pick that book up over another, that I was lucky enough to read it in my life time, that I have the memory of this read, this wonder, this astonishment forever. It's the one thing that makes me wonder if fate exists, as crazy as that sounds.

Before I Fall is one of these phenomenal books. There really aren't any words to describe how good it is, or how it made me feel. It's completely full of surprises, high moments, incredible lows, tragedy, laughter, craziness, utter bliss, paralysing fear, and deepest sorrow. It has absolutely everything, yet none of those words can even come close to the beauty of the moments I thought of as I wrote them. The plot, the writing, the characters, the small events, the big events... I'm just completely dumbfounded.

Sam Kingston dies at the end of what is a normal day. Except that's not the end. She wakes up again the morning of that day, again and again, having to relive it. Each day something different happens; she'll do, say, be somewhere different, which will lead to her seeing, hearing, knowing something different. As the days pass, she slowly begins to piece together how she dies, but learns about herself, about her friends, and about the life she leads. Will Sam break the circle, or will she continue to live the same day over and over? And if she does, what then?

How fully formed the characters in this novel are is fantastic. Seriously, there are so many different characters that play a part in this book at one point or another, but most are all part of the same popular clique, so it would be very easy for them all to blur into each other and for us to not see much difference, but they all have their own personalities, quirks, histories, secrets, stories. So many layers to if not all, then most of the characters, and you're always learning, always discovering - along with Sam.

Of all the characters in the book, I have to mention Lindsay, Elody, Ally and Kent. The three girls are Sam's best friends, the queen bees of the school and are so loyal, love each other deeply, but then can be the nastiest cows you could possibly imagine to anyone who looks at them the wrong way. It's so bewildering to read, because you want to hate them so much for what they do to people, because they are so absolutely disgusting, but the friendship and camaraderie between the four - they really are each other's best friends, and you can't help but smile over their antics. And Kent! Lovely, geeky, quirky Kent! I want one for myself. He is just the sweetest, most loveliest guy, and he makes me "aww" so much! And I can't say any more that I want to without spoiling the book.

You can't read this book without noticing things around you, and realising what you take for granted. I went out shortly after finishing it, and couldn't help but enjoy listening to the wind in the trees, and the rain on my face. Sam started paying more attention once she knew it was her last day replaying over and over, but we can never do that unless we start now. As the blurb says, you don't get to know when it will happen. It was brilliant to see how Sam reacted to finding out, and then how she chose to live each day, the decisions she would make that would change the outcomes of other things. It was really eye opening, and pretty much just brilliant.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It was unbelievable. I will relish reading this again at some point in the future. You cannot miss out on Before I Fall! I cannot urge you enough to pick up this book! You will not regret it.

Published: 22nd July 2010
Publisher: Hodder
Buy on Amazon US
Lauren Oliver's Website

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