Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Title: Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
Obtained: borrowed from library
Harper Teen
Rating: 4/5
Read for: Amazon Best of 2010 Challenge

Blurb (from dust jacket)

Samantha Kingston has it all: the world’s most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High–from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last.

Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding death–and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

On the Cover

The girl’s face on the cover is such a close-up that it’s almost creepy. The title, splashed in the middle of her face, is really distracting. And I can’t decide who the girl is supposed to be, Juliet or Sam, though I imagine it’s probably Sam since she’s the narrator.

My Thoughts

I kind of went into this thinking, Oh, it’s YA, it’ll have a happy ending. Instead, I got a weirdly bitter-sweet ending with little satisfaction. I wanted Sam to be happy with Kent. I wanted her to dump her jackass boyfriend, Rob, for Kent. Of course, the popular kids never do. I liked Kent, but then I have a soft spot for guys who do awkwardly-cute things like send people Valentine’s cards (or, in the case of the book, a rose), even if they haven’t talked in years.

I still can’t decide whether I like Sam or not. She has appropriate reactions right up until the end, and I just couldn’t figure out her decisions, at least where her so-called friends are concerned. I wanted her to seriously give Lindsay, at least, a piece of her mind. Instead, Sam decides it’s good to have friends. And through it all, I kept thinking that, no matter what, Sam’s motive was so selfish. It was all about fixing her; keeping her from repeating the same day over and over. Sam’s initial motive was to stay alive and stop reliving Friday, and over time she did out grow it, but at least up until that last bit, her motive was absolutely self-centered, no matter how she phrased it, and I had a hard time liking her.

Lindsay is a despicable person. She’s disgusting, and I don’t think she was meant to look good. She turns on Sam at the drop of a hat if Sam even remotely says anything that maybe relates to Lindsay being a bad person. She blames Juliet for her problems, and this leads to a falling out that completely destroys Juliet’s life. And the shitty thing is, even though Lindsay herself says that she thought it would all blow over, when it doesn’t, Lindsay doesn’t bother correcting people. She just lets it happen, and lets someone else’s life get destroyed, all to benefit her.

Despite not liking Lindsay, and the jury is, at least for me, still out about Ally and Elody, and really feeling kind of indifferent about Sam, I really liked the book. The characters were real. They were people I went to high school with. It’s such a refreshing change to finally have a book with characters I can at least distantly relate to.

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