Tuesday 13 April 2010

BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver

Sam Kingston is dead.

Except she isn't.

On a rainy February night, Sam is killed in a horrific car crash. But instead of seeing a tunnel of light, she wakes up in her own bed, on the morning of the same day.

Forced to live through the same events - the drive to school, skipping class, the fateful party - she struggles to alter the outcome, but wakes up again on the day of the crash. What follows is the story of a girl who comes of age in a matter of days. Who discovers, through heartbreaking insights, the consequences of her every action. Of a girl who dies young, but in the process learns how to live.

And who falls in love...a little too late.

The concept of this story grabbed me as soon as I read the blurb. And when I picked it up, it hooked me in straight away.

Sam Kingston's life has taken a turn for the worst. Actually, she died in a car accident. But instead of moving on, she finds herself waking up on the morning of the accident. She finds herself living February 12 over and over again. A never-ending cycle of Cupid Day, a time that used to mean so much to her before, when the amount of Valograms she received was all that mattered.

At first she's pretty sure that the reason this is happening to her is because she's getting a second chance, a way to make sure that the accident doesn't happen. And so, she tries several tactics. Some of them seem to work but lead to other tragedies, and don't stop her from waking up to relive the day all over again.

It was great to read about each day, to go through the events, and seeing how everything changed slightly. During one of the days, she loses total control because she's so angry and figures no matter what she does, things will end up the same anyway. Slowly, she goes from being one of the most popular mean girls in Thomas Jefferson High, to a girl who's growing up and trying to make things right before the day is over.

It's also about what happens when a girl realises that everyone and everything around her isn't what it seems. While alive she'd never wondered about anything or anyone or how everything was connected. All she cared about were her three friends, her boyfriend, and setting trends. All of a sudden, Sam starts to see people and places through the eyes of someone who's about to lose them all.

I particularly enjoyed the Kent storyline. I loved the way their connection slowly developed even though she was the only one who knew what kept happening between them at the end of each day. It was also great to see how much she still loved her best friends--Lindsay, Elody and Ally--even after she saw all of their faults. It just made them more human, especially Lindsay, the one with the most secrets.

Before I Fall is a fantastic and very intoxicating book. It's a beautifully written story with a heartbreaking air that captivated me from start to finish. A story about really looking at everything and understanding what's important, instead of letting it pass us by like we usually do during our busy lives. This is definitely one of those books that I'll remember for a long time.

It's certainly going straight to my keeper shelf.

Before I Fall, April 2010, ISBN 978-144-470642-0, H&S Fiction Paperback

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