I am a giant fan of Lauren Oliver. Whatever she writes, I read. This was actually the book I read before Delirium, and when I discovered Delirium I was ecstatic that she had written another book! Now I'm anxiously awaiting my chance to buy Pandemonium, but this is a review of Before I Fall, not Delirium.
For a book of Lauren Oliver's I think this book is sadly overlooked because of the excitement of Pandemonium and Delirium. Yes, those books are amazing and are going to be amazing, but Before I Fall is just as good. It doesn't have the romance that Delirium has, but it still has that style of writing that makes you feel as if something more is going on, something that will make you think over life again. In a way, Before I Fall is realistic fiction, everything happening is possible; except for the one thing that makes this book so unique. Samantha reliving her death.
In the beginning, I absolutely hated every single character in this book. Samantha, her friends, her boyfriend, the "loser", basically the entire bunch. Samantha seemed fake, petty, and selfish, her boyfriend was a total jerk (and not the good kind), her friends seemed cruel and empty (and like Samantha in that way), and Juliet seemed weak because she didn’t fight back. It’s only later on, I learned why. It’s later on that I realized why Lindsay acted the way she did, and why she seemed so fake—because she was.
In the beginning, Samantha is all looks and little substance. She thinks she’s crazy because she doesn’t “love” Rob, her all-popular boyfriend. Pshh. I sort of pitied Samantha at that moment, she didn’t know the value of her friends, her family, her life. It’s only when she loses all those things that she slowly realizes. There’s a lot of character development in Before I Fall, especially on Samantha’s part. Of course, I didn’t really realize it until near the end. Sam made a lot of mistakes, but slowly, slowly, she fixes them. Slowly, she’s finally getting her last day on Earth right. “Learn from your mistakes” and that’s exactly what she does.
Another plus is that Lauren Oliver played on the domino effect a bit. Samantha relives her last day again and again, so everything should be exactly the same, right? No. Each word she said, each look she gave, each action she did, changed something. Secrets were exposed, friendships were ruined, lives were saved, lives were killed. But those were all variations of the same day. It’s amazing how Lauren Oliver did all that, but really, was there ever any doubt?
My absolute favorite parts were the italicized parts. They just sent a chill up my spine, which happens when I read a book that touches me. It was like Samantha had gone over her own story and added her comments, added her experiences to help us understand better. My favorite non-italicized parts, to be specific, were pages 419-420, 428, 438, and 468-470. These were the parts that made me cry my eyes out or just absolutely cheered for Samantha. It’s amazing how the small things she does makes the people she cared about, or the people who hated her, happy. Samantha is a great character that shows what it means to have second chances to redo everything. In the end, she sacrificed one of the most important things and didn’t hesitate. In short: Lauren Oliver’s writing will capture your heart and touch you. She shows how everyone makes mistakes in their lives; that we can correct them, and the sacrifices people have to make in the end.