Sunday, 5 September 2010

Review: Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver

Before I FallWhat if you had only 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 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined.
I have really mixed feelings about Before I Fall. I really liked the sound of it before I started reading even though it's not really the kind of thing I'd normally read but I'd heard so many good things about it that I figured I'd give it a go. The book is beautifully written with lots of detail that makes it really easy to feel like you're right there in the story. The characters are good in that they have depth and you really get to understand the main ones. However, I found it really hard to actually like any of them. In fact I don't think I liked any of them at all. At the start this was okay because that's kind of the point - that Sam and her friends are mean and bitchy - but I just didn't warm to them by the end of the book either. I also didn't like the supporting characters much. Rob, Sam's boyfriend, was fair game to dislike a but I feel like I should've grown to like Kent and I didn't particularly. I mean, I didn't hate him, I just thought he was a little bit pathetic what with being completely in love with Sam even though she'd been a complete bitch to him for years. I'm sure this probably happens in real life but that would really bug me as well. I would like to make the point out that my inability to like the characters wasn't down to the author though. Like I said, they were well written and everything and I felt like they could be real people, just not people I'd like.

The book has an interesting enough plot although I found it a little predictable in places. This wasn't just down to the fact we live Sam's last day seven times, in fact the author did a really good job of not making that aspect repetitive considering. I just felt it was easy to guess the things Sam was going to do differently and even the order of how she'd deal with things (disbelief, try to change the obvious thing, go a bit crazy, give up and avoid the situation ...). A lot of reviews I've read talk about the emotion in the book but it just didn't get to me. Every time I started to feel sorry for Sam I couldn't help but think, "Well, you have been a massive bitch to everyone".

To summarise, Before I Fall was an enjoyable enough read - at no point did I consider not finishing it - and will probably be loved by many. The writing was excellent but I just felt it was too predictable (to me anyway) and I couldn't warm to the characters.

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