Released: March 2, 2010
Age Group: Young Adult
*Debut Author Challenge
What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?There is something to be said about Lauren Oliver. She brings debut authors to an entirely different level. In Before I Fall, the reader re-lives Sam's last day on Earth seven times. Seven. I stress this because despite all of the gleaming reviews, I was a bit apprehensive: can I really read about the same day seven times and still care by the seventh round? Well, I cared. A lot. In fact I think I cared more each "day" than the one before. It's mind boggling that in her very first novel Lauren was able to create, and recreate, a single day I never wanted to end.
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 ever imagined.
Sam Kingston is the kind of girl I love to read about. She's kind of a snotty bitch. She's beautiful and popular, and she makes the lives of everyone who isn't just a little crappier. You would hate her if you didn't want to be her. Overall Sam is a pretty flat character in the beginning, but when she's faced with her own mortality, she becomes this other person. And that person is pretty darn likeable. Seeing Sam evolve into a better version of herself seemed like a privilege: like I was so lucky to be let in on Sam's secrets.
I'd love to write a more critical review, picking apart the plot and character development, to convince you to read this book. But I can't because all I want to do is jump up and down and scream, "Y'ALL! THIS BOOK IS SO FREAKING GOOD! YOU HAVE TO READ IT NOOWWW!!!!" Because y'all, it is that good, and as much as I've been trying, I really can't put into words how this book made me feel. There were several times that I had to put it down and say, "Wow." I actually had to step away so that I could both think about everything going on and try not to blow through it too quickly. This is a book to be savored: it's thought-provoking and emotionally charged, and it's the kind of read that doesn't let go.
The brilliance that is Lauren Oliver's first novel has made me a fan for life. Whatever she writes, I will read. Before I Fall is one of the best books I've read this year and definitely the best debut. While I have to be picky about the books I buy (because I have yet to find that damn money tree...), my next trip to Cavalier House Books will definitely include picking up a copy. It's one that must have a home on my shelf.