Monday, 30 June 2014

Before I Fall

Before I Fall
Lauren Oliver
London, Hodder & Stoughton, 2010, 344p

When I last tried to read Lauren Oliver, I was stumped by the slow pace; and although I wanted to find out what was going on in the strange dystopia of Delirium, I couldn't get past the first hundred pages.

And yet, I wanted to give her another chance, so thought I'd give Before I Fall a shot.

For Sam, what starts out as a normal Friday turns into tragedy. It's Cupid's Day, and her and her friends are excited by the prospect of all the roses they expect to receive from admirers. They are the popular girls, admired and respected, but with a tendency to victimise others. Sam has the perfect boyfriend, the perfect friends, and the perfect life. After a great day at school, she heads to a house party in the woods, and excessive drinking results in a road accident.

The next morning, Sam awakes with a start, shocked that she survived, wondering what happened last night. But she soon discovers that it is Friday again, and she has to live her last day over and over, trying to work out what she has to get right in order to escape this limbo.

Before I Fall is about consequences. Whenever Sam changes her behaviour, a different outcome occurs. On one day, she acts out, rebelling against school and family and friends, but ends the day lonely and bitter. Another day, she tries to be the hero, attempting to save one of the victims of her bullying from her all-engulfing depression, but changing fate is not as easy as it appears.

The novel is well structured and engaging - although Sam lives the same day repeatedly, Lauren Oliver successfully creates new situations and develops the character enough to make you read on. It is a sweet novel, full of heart and hope.

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