Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "What if you only had 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 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.  

The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death--and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing."

Review:  Here’s the question I’ve asked myself. Do you not write a review for the books you didn’t enjoy? Then, what would be the point in sharing books and reviews on a book blog, right? So, I will share.

In preparation for my Popular Literature course, I decided to read Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, knowing how much other readers loved her writing and this story. I’ve had other students read her books and love them, so I figured this would be my introduction. Sadly, I was not as enthralled with it as they were.

The premise of the story is a great one. “Bad” girl dies. “Bad” girl gets to relive the day leading up to her death, over and over again, until she learns a lesson. “Bad” girl makes crazier choices each time, knowing there are literally no consequences. “Bad” girl then eventually wakes up and smells the proverbial coffee and becomes a “better” girl, possibly. In some ways I felt as though I were watching Grease backwards, with Sandra Dee going from her smoking, tight-black-leather-pants-wearing self back to her bobby socks and poodle skirt goodness. (I couldn’t help myself with that comparison, because that’s really what I pictured.)

Yes, I oversimplify—a lot. I’ll just have to own up to the fact that I didn’t like the character. When I was in high school, I knew a number of “skanky” girls (pardon the terminology), who just didn’t seem to see or care about anyone else around them (but what did we know?). The girls in this story were so real in that way, that in a strange way, I found I couldn’t relate to them at all. Even in the journey our character takes to wake up to her choices felt like it took too long, which it really might be for a person in that immature head space. I don’t know. I usually say that I hate to judge, but I will admit to not liking the main character and shuddering at one too many scene.

On the flip side, I’ll now say that for the right audience, this hits home. I just wasn’t the right audience. Some of my students love this book and told me that they enjoyed reading a book from characters that felt true to life. Yes, that sounds judgmental on all of our parts, but every person I know who has read this book has stepped in as judge and jury as I did. Overall, I would say that this is a great story and premise; you simply have to be in the right mindset and ready for quite the ride!

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based on a library copy of the novel.


  1. Sandra Dee in reverse sounds awful. Also: Groundhog Day, take three million.

    1. Yea. It wasn't the best premise for me. Others really love it though, so I guess it depends on the reader?

  2. I liked Before I Fall, but it wasn't one I will read again.

    1. I wanted to like it! I didn't hate it, but definitely found myself annoyed way too much. Maybe I've been teaching teens for too long to relax over this read? I don't know! I don't usually react that way to other teen reads that are similar?