Friday, 13 June 2014


Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—"Cupid Day"—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam 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 ever imagined.

Oliver's set herself up with something really quite tricky to pull off here. From the blurb, the reader knows that the main character, Sam, is going to die at the end of the first day. So they're waiting for that to happen. They also know that she's going to live that last day seven times over, meaning they're going to read about the same day, the same people and events, seven times. Now, I'm not a big fan of repetition. I don't like it if the same word appears a couple of times within a page or so. I'm not talking words like she, or the, or said. Or or, for that matter. I don't remember what I was reading, but recently I came across a chapter that had the word purple mentioned in it four times. The first time I didn't bat an eyelid. The next three, it was incredibly jarring. So I went into this book warily.

I think I was right to be wary. If I'd had high expectations, I'm sure I would have come away disappointed. As it was, prepared to be bored/irritated/infuriated, I got along with this book fairly well. Yes, there were parts that I got bored of reading over and over - like Sam's conversations with her friends on the way to school, which varied very little - and that first day was a bit of a slog to get through, since I knew what was going to happen, but I wasn't anywhere near as frustrated as I expected to be.

Sadly, though, I didn't really like or connect with any of the characters. I don't necessarily need to like a character to enjoy reading about them, they don't have to be good people, people I'd want to be friends with, but there was just something kind of...flat about these characters. Maybe that's because I read about their lives over and over again, but I don't think so. Sam is basically a blank page, a Bella-Swan-type, but her best friend is a stereotypical popular girl in high school, and their other friends carbon copies of her. Bleh, boring. There's no depth to them, they were difficult to keep separate in my head because they aren't even distinct from each other.

Perhaps I just don't get along with Lauren Oliver's style of writing. I mean, I read Delirium last year and basically hated it. Like, seriously, hated it. I wanted to try something else of hers and the premise of this story called to me, but maybe I just have to accept that her books just aren't for me.

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