Sunday, December 8, 2013

Before I Fall: Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall: Lauren Oliver 

Rating: 9/10. 5 stars.

Series: Standalone 
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary  
Release Date: October 25, 2010
Publisher: Harper
Page Count: 470 

Synopsis: 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.

First Sentence: They say that just before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that's not how it happened for me.

In September, I was wandering around my local Barnes and Noble, $30 giftcard in hand, and then I remembered this book, I had heard about it before from a friend, so I picked it up, unsuspecting of what I was in for.

Cover 3/10: The book was an astounding piece of work, but when it came to the cover I thought “come on, seriously?”. The picture is a girl on her side. Yes I do admit it goes with the whole “Before I Fall” thing, although she is fallen over in the cover. Needless to say, I feel that a book that reaches this caliber deserved something either more striking or painstakingly simple, just anything that wasn’t what the cover ended up being.  

Plot: 9/10: This book is beautifully and carefully crafted. Samantha Emily Kingston re-lives February 12 seven times. Each day brings new events, each day goes down different winding roads the plot could take, and each day brings us closer to finding out who Sam is. Samantha Kingston is the ultimate popular girl, and a bit of a b***h too (don’t worry the book says that she is all seven of those days). She is living a transient fairy-tale life that no ordinary person does. So when she dies for the first time, she’s given six more chances to make sure she dies with all of her affairs in order, or at least with a bang.    

My one minor complaint is the seven times. It is true that the book needed those seven days to paint a picture of how different decisions can make your life. It ended up being a bit too much like the movie “Groundhog Day”. Yes those days were needed, but in the first three or four when she keeps messing up you want to scream, just hurry up already and move on.

Characters: 8.75/10
The characters of this novel are a reason why I almost stopped reading it, and not in a bad way either. The story is told by Samantha Kingston who has a little sister named Izzy (Elizabeth) and she has three best friends Ally, Ellody, and Lindsay the queen-bee of the pack. The other characters are Rob her boyfriend that wants to have sex with her, Kent a guy that’s loved her since they were in second grade, and Juliette Sykes the other main victim in this story. The other characters include Alex who is cheating on Bridget with Ann. There’s Mr. Daimen the calculus teacher, Marian who is Juliette’s little sister, and a whole other cast of characters.
The reason I almost stopped reading the book was because of Juliette Sykes. In those seven days, we learn more about her, each time delving in deeper to places we might not want to go to or know about. I myself am no stranger to the world of suicidal thoughts and depression,

“Juliette Sykes reminds me of someone I know & also someone I could become.”---Sofia Li (author of this review) on twitter 11:11pm

so when Juliette is introduced as the victim at Sam, Ally, Elody, and Lindsay’s mercy, I was taken aback. What those girls did to her, what they made her go through and suffer, to be stabbed in the back by the one person you thought would never do it. It’s heartbreaking betrayal. Her nickname over the year has been ‘pyscho’, ‘mellow yellow’, and much more. The four girls have consecutively sent Juliet a rose for cupid day since Freshman year when they found out no one had sent her one, with a snide note attached.

            Samantha Emily Kingston is proof that people really can change. I am also no stranger to being judged, and having to rise above a world that is falling apart around you. I understand the realization that I wasn’t such a good person, and that I have to pay for it for the rest of my life. On day one, Sam is ignorant, arrogant, self-entitled, and completely deserving of the b***h title. By day seven, Sam is changed, she’s grown, she’s trying to make things right. Some may say its an unrealistic pace in which she changes, but I don’t. When life hits you hard in the face, you have to hit it back and in this base it means rebounding straight away to try and become better.

I have to admit, these girls ARE NOT the best role models. They drink alcohol, ditch class, smoke cigarettes, and even do drugs. They go to extremes to make themselves seem big and other seem inferior. In that aspect, they’re like any cliche high school story, but its NOT.

“Have u ever been afraid of the person u could become? Because u know ur only a few steps away from becoming them?”---Sofia Li (author of this review) on twitter at 9:31pm

This is going to sound really deep and sentimental, but that’s what this book does for you. It has shown me who I do not want to be, who I do not want to become, and that popularity isn’t actually worth everything. What’s important is to be yourself, stand your ground, and never lose yourself trying to be someone you’re not. I officially sound like a guidance counselor now.

"I wonder if that will ever change, if it will ever get beaten out of her."

That quote was said by Sam referring to her little sister Izzy who has a lisp, and dresses unlike the other kids at her school. Izzy has such a young personality that can’t be quenched by the fires of society. She is the kind of person that wakes up every morning with the little kid innocence that makes you believe that everything is possible. In a story of a girl trying to turn back the clock, and right all the wrongs of her life, there’s a lot for her to be ashamed of, so Izzy is the streak of purity in the story.

Writing Style 7.5/10: The voice Lauren Oliver uses for Sam is very tennager-y, yet not totally concieted with attitude. I did feel there were things that could have been said differently, but I don’t know how to explain it.

Pacing 8/10: My one criticism was that the story felt like it was repeating itself. The events changed along the way, but in the end, you knew what would happen, it was only Sam’s reactions and corresponding decisions that changed. Basically nothing about the pacing could have been changed.

Feels 10/10: The entire time I was reading I just kept repeating to anyone that would listen, “The feels. The feels.” They are unimaginable. I definitely felt sorry for her as well as the other characters like Kent because of his love for Sam. Juliet as aforementioned was the character I felt mostly bad about and everything she went through. The book gave me the sympathy, sadness, anger, and happiness all when needed.

"It all seems absurd now. The chance and the randomness of it. One person shoots up and the other spirals downward-random and meaningless"

Ending 10/10: May I just say, after Sam lived through the same day six times, it ending with her dying or her going to sleep, I thought the seventh day would be the same. It turned out I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not going to spoil it for you. Some may be disappointed with the ending, but I loved it. It gave all the closure I needed for her and the rest of the characters. She couldn’t have done more.

Recommendation: I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes contemporary writing, the kind where it’s not fantasy or realistic fiction because it is like ordinary life with something that can’t happen that isn’t magic or unicorns. I would also reccomend it to someone who needs a new perspective on life and grounding.

Quotes: There were waaay to many picture worthy moments in this book. The two I chose were"

"It all seems absurd now. The chance and the randomness of it. One person shoots up and the other spirals downward-random and meaningless."---P. 393 Samantha Kingston
"Here's another thing to remember: hope keeps you alive. Even when you're dead, its the only thing that keeps you alive."---P. 137 Samantha Kingston
The first refers to the truth of Samantha's friend's relationship with Juliette Sykes. They shot up, she shot down. It could have been the exact opposite. All of it could have been different, which is a huge theme in this story.

The second refers to Samantha, when she was still trying to relive her first day. How the hope of her maybe survival kept her alive, even in death. It's pretty self-explanatory.

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