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Friday, 9 April 2010

Review: Before I Fall

Author: Lauren Oliver
Release date: 4th March 2010 UK
Genre: Contemporary Teen Life / Speculative Paranormal
Target audience: 12+


Summary from Amazon:
They say that when you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that's not how it happened for me.
 Sam Kingston is dead. Except she isn't.
On a rainy February night, eighteen-year-old Sam is killed in a horrific car crash. But then the impossible happens: she wakes up in her own bed, on the morning of the day that she died.
Forced to live over and over the last day of her life the drive to school, skipping class, the fateful party she desperately struggles to alter the outcome, but every morning she wakes up on the day of the crash.
This is a story of a girl who dies young, but in the process learns how to live. And who falls in love... a little too late.


BEFORE I FALL is a brave and complex novel about the territory between life and death. As astonishing as The Lovely Bones and as luminous as Jenny Downham's Before I Die, it will make you want to live every day as if it were your last.

Review:
Before I Fall has a mesmerising power. It is a story about life, death, friendship and family but most importantly choices. The day Sam Kingston dies she makes all the wrong choices. But she doesn't die only once. She is forced to relive the day she dies over and over. Waking to the sound of the alarm and knowing it is Cupid Day again. Each day she makes her choices. Some right. Some wrong. Some that aren't hers to make. This is as far as I can summarise this book because it is a journey that Sam takes and to understand those choices, you have to read it. Before I Fall is a book which will hurt your eyes as it exposes the truth of why we do things and leave your heart aching.

This book touches on many issues which we experience in our teen years but often with our insular tunnel vision. It forces you to think about how the tiniest choice can have the biggest impact on another person. It made me wonder about my own (unborn) children in the future. Would I prefer them to be popular and not be a victim of bullying and ridicule? What if that meant they had to be the ones that were the perpetrator of those actions? Would I prefer my children to be bully or victim? Geeky, true-to-themself honest? Or safe in the bubble of the "right" clothes and the "right" friends? Obviously, I would prefer that my future children don't grow up in such a harsh and painful world but we have all lived through secondary school. We know that the story told in Before I Fall is as close to the truth as you can get so much so that it hurts to read it.

The characters are layered in a way that takes you time to strip back to their true self and see just exactly who they are.  As you read, you discover the truth behind each one. It made me reflect on the people that I love and want to reach inside them to see how they feel at any one moment. Life is so beautifully unpredictable.

The book is beautifully written and at times feels as if you are watching through a lense rather than turning a page. As the story progresses images, characters, Sam's world, all become more alive. Oliver makes you want to reach out and touch the snow flakes as they fall. It is breathtaking and shows us how life and all the people in it are startlingly fragile. Before I Fall is a tender story of truth and love. It is a definite must read.

Thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for sending me a copy for review.

18 comments:

Cat Clarke said...

Becky, what a beautiful review! This book DOES hurt your eyes - you're so right.

brizmus said...

Okay, I've read so many raving reviews of this, and all most of them have done is to convince me that I am going to find Same to be SUPER annoying. You, though, have convinced me to read the book. What a beautiful review.

prophecygirl said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed this - it's an amazing book, and so well written.

Lenore said...

Yes - I loved the way the characters were so layered. One of my all time faves!

Shweta said...

Now this seems like something that would interest me. I have seen both good and not so good reviews for it but I think it's worth a try. Especially since some of my fav bloggers are 5 Starring it!:)

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Oh wow Becky. Seriously awesome review. What amazing thoughts.

I knew a boy once (in college).
He was beautiful, sweet, tender, compassionate, popular, but kind to everyone that ever crossed his path. I would to imagine my imaginary child would turn out like him.

Christina/Book Addict said...

Another great review! I completely agree with you. I really enjoyed this book as well and I adored Oliver's writing style. This book made me reflect as well- powerful stuff!

I Want To Read That said...

Wow - brilliant review! I'm really glad you enjoyed it - and your review really captures everything I loved about the book:)

Caroline said...

Thanks again for your review!!! It is brilliant, as usual!!
Something tells me this book will be in my next "In My Mailbox"... ;)
I am amazed at how many YA books (may they be fantasy or other) talk about death...

Raíla said...

I can't really comment, because I am still starting this book. Otherwise, it sounds fantastic! I am so glad you liked it!

Bookalicious Ramblings said...

What a beautiful review! So glad you liked it too and yeah, it really is a powwerful read ...

Book Monster said...

I seriously need to read this,lol. I don't think I've seen one bad review on this, and it's on the NYT best sellers so that's got to say something. Nice review XD

Robby said...

What a great review, what a great book. I'm so glad you loved it. :]

Lauren said...

I'm definitely thrilled that you've rated this one so highly, because I loved it and I like the fact it's so universal. I honestly think it should be read in schools.

Ebony McKenna. said...

Great review!
I have nothing else to say.

Just kidding!

This book clearly touched your heart and that is fabulous. I love falling in love with books and this looks like a great one to fall headlong into.

Rhiana said...

I loved this one too!

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

Glad you enjoyed it. I love the premise.

Jill of The O.W.L. said...

I agree. I agree. I agree :) Well said!