Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Review: Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Young Adult Fiction
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division Published 2010/07(UK)
ISBN:9780340980903 (Paper cover book) 

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.
I bought this book on an impulse the other day. I walked uphill to a bookstore with my best friend late in the evening, under misty rain just to torture ourselves with the smell of new books, promising each other that we were there just to ‘look around’. Mission failed. We cracked under pressure.

I saw the new beautiful UK cover for Before I Fall and croaked. She saw a couple new psych self-help books and croaked. There goes our hundred dollars. Poof it went.

On to the review then. Well, I am still reeling from the effect this book had on me. It was a confusing feeling. A tinge of sadness, relief, a load of frustration, a swell of happiness. Letting go, letting go, letting go.

My first rule in reading a fiction book is I have to like the MC. At least to a certain extent. So I was frustrated with the main character in this story, Sam. My goodness, What. A. Bitch. I hated her at first. I didn’t understand how a person’s heart can be so vile and black. There were moments I just felt like giving up because I can’t stand being in her head, reading the inner thoughts of such a mean girl. When she died the first time around I felt sated, like the feeling you get after a full lunch in hot afternoons. My face muscles twitch in satisfaction. “There you go bitch, you deserved to die!! People like you are a waste of space.”

Yet, somehow, I can’t put the bloody book down. I needed to know. I needed to keep going and continue being soaked up in Oliver’s words. This woman is good, man.

But I’m not exaggerating, Oliver really made Sam a character you would love to hate and you will hate her. It wasn’t until later that I realized that making the readers hated the main character so early in the book was a deliberate move. Oliver had managed to make Sam transformed from this ugly thing into a beautiful person while avoiding the usual cheesiness of the typical made-for-tv/Disney movies. Bravo.

I came from hating her to caring about her and by the end, I love her. I love her courage, her fears and the abundance of love that sat heavy in her heart. Oh my, what a wondrous thing to be able to witness how much she'd change.

Speaking of love, I really love the intense friendship she shared with her three best friends. Some of their interactions were laugh out loud hilarious! Bitches that they were, but they were funny, loyal and they got each other’s back. It was not a perfect friendship but it was real.

And then there was one Kent McFuller - who wore bowler hat and drew weird cartoons and had a pair of green eyes the color of grass. Adorable, adorable, adorable. It was Sam’s thoughts and time spent with him that made me smile the most while reading this book.

This book is about second chances, even if it's just for a while. It's about making things right and if you have the chance to do so, you should. Because we made a lot of wrongs in our lives. Each of our word, actions and decisions matter and it can hurt people, scarring them for a long long time. But most of the time we don't even realize it.

This book frustrated me, made me laugh, broke me apart, made me goes awww, smile, cry cry cry and then some. Like I said, I’m still reeling from it.

But one thing is true: It’s one of my best reads so far and you, my dear need to read this book. When you’re ready, get your hands on it and open its pages and get lost in it. 

Ok, perhaps you should smell the book first. Books have good smell. Even the musty ones.

Recommended Reads:  Before I Die by Jenny Downham 


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