Review: Before I Fall

I found a copy of Before I Fall at a local garage sale and decided to buy it since it was only a few cents, even though I have a pet peeve about book covers that feature movie posters or actors.  I figured if I liked the book, then I would buy the original cover edition to keep.  Another reason I decided to buy this book was because the movie recently showed up on Showtime and I was interested in seeing the movie.  However, I knew if I saw the movie first then I would never read the book – hence my garage sale movie cover book purchase!

Before I Fall has a simple synopsis because it’s about a teenage girl named Samantha who dies, but then wakes up in the morning.  Unfortunately she wakes up to repeat the same day, February 12th. Is there a way she can break the cycle and live to see February 13th?

Yes, that’s the simple plot of this 485 page book.

So…I kind of have a love/hate relationship with this book.  The story sounded interesting enough and I thought it would be fun to read about Samantha and her plight of reliving her last day, however, I was okay with the repeat storyline for about three cycles.  It might just be me because I’m not one for repetition.  I can’t even watch Groundhog Day all the way through, so it might be my inability to watch or read through a story that I know the ending to, even if the retelling is a bit different each time. And since this book was pretty much rehashing Samantha’s last day, I just couldn’t get behind it 100 percent.

With that being said, I liked the story.  Chapter 1 was fun because it laid down the foundation of the story and reading about Samantha and her high school friends was very entertaining. I have to admit, I don’t remember high school being to vicious!  But then again, I wasn’t really into the high school scene when I was a teenager so it could have been this way; or maybe not.

Chapter 2 was fun too because it gave you Samantha’s take on the whole “repeat” business.  Reading about how Samantha worked her mind through the obstacle of dying and then repeating the same day was well done and I liked how the author, Lauren Oliver, made this discovery believable.

Then Chapter 3, 4, 5, and 6 happened – all repeating February 12th. Yes, I know, Samantha was learning valuable lessons during these chapters, but I couldn’t get fully on board with these chapters because my mind was not interested in reading the same stories (even with the twists) again and again.  While reading these chapters I often found myself skimming through the pages until I came across some interesting flashback or a glimmer of something different from the norm.

When it came to Chapter 7, I read this one with a little more enthusiasm because I knew it was the finally chapter and that anything could happen to deviate from the repetitive cycle.  The ending was great only because it was the ending. But realistically, I don’t know how this ending would make any difference or change anything since the only person who really changed during the story was Samantha.  It’s hard to say without giving the ending away, so if you haven’t read this book skip the next paragraph.

-SPOILER-

Okay, so what I mean by how I don’t think the ending was realistic is this.  Even though Samantha gave her life to save Juliet, how would that change anything?  The story shared Juliet’s desire to end her life because of the treatment she endured and I don’t see how Samantha pushing her out of the way would really help that.  Juliet was scarred from years and years of psychological abuse plus now she probably feels guilt that her attempt at suicide caused someone else to die.  Then there is Samantha’s friends Lindsey, Elody, and Ally.  I’m sure Samantha’s death didn’t change their attitude towards Juliet because they don’t know the full story as to why Samantha saved her.  All they know is that their best friend died saving a loser. I’m pretty sure they’ll treat Juliet even worse now because they’ll blame her for the death of Samantha.  I can hear them now, “It should have been you Psycho!” and taunts like that.  Why do I think that? Because throughout the story they were mean and aggressive towards Juliet while never showing any remorse or regret for their actions – even the last scene with them throwing alcohol on Juliet showed how mean-spirited they really were. And I don’t think Samantha’s death would change that.  So with all that being said, this is why I think the ending was unrealistic.  Samantha said she realized it wasn’t about saving herself, but that she thought it was about saving Juliet. But did she really? I think Juliet still ended up killing herself because I can’t see how this one act changed anything. Okay, enough with my rant.

– SPOILER NOW OVER –

Overall I like the story and characters but I’m not a fan of the length of this book.  I think it could have easily been trimmed down to about 250 to 300 pages while still packing a punch.

I always end my reviews with recommendations on who I think might enjoy the book, but I really don’t even know who to recommend this book to.  I think it depends on the reader and the reading style of the person.  I don’t like reading endings first, like I know some do, so I think that’s why I had trouble with this book. You know the ending and are reading about alternate paths to that same ending.  I’m also a one read and done kind of reader which means I rarely read a book more than once.  If I know the story and remember it, I can’t reread it.  This is another reason why I don’t think I truly enjoyed this book.  So, if you can read books multiple times and you don’t mind knowing the ending then I’d say you will probably enjoy Before I Fall because the writing was well done and the characters are interesting enough to keep you reading.

Oh, and I don’t think I’m going to buy the original cover book after all.

Now I have to check out the movie and see how that matches up to the book.  I wonder which one I’ll like more??

Hmmm, they look so different than how I pictured them in my head. Isn’t that always the case?

 

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