Friday, February 12, 2010

Review for BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver

by, Lauren Oliver
Published: March 2nd 2010 by HarperCollins
Hardcover, 480 pages
Placement in Pile:
This was very tough. I still am not sure where to put this. For writing and the ending I'd say Reaching New Heights. For the content I'd have to go with a Bit Buried or maybe Middle of the Stack
What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life? 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 had ever imagined.
The premise of this book was so intriguing to me! As I started to read it though I was really disappointed at first. I knew I needed to do a review, so I kept going, and the further I got in, I had to keep reading. It was like driving past a car accident--even though you're afraid of what you're going to see, you can't tear your eyes away from it. In the end, it was definitely worth it.
So, as I said, this one is very hard to place. The writing is beautiful and even poignant at times, and the last 1/4 of the book is wonderful (mostly), but the first 2/3 and the content were not enjoyable to me at all. First of all, I didn't even like Sam until almost 3/4 of the way through the book. Not the greatest thing. I could see why Ms. Oliver did it, and what lessons she was trying to teach, but still. It's hard to love a book where you don't like the protagonist for a good portion of it. As she is called many, MANY times through the book, she really is a b*%&$. And so are all of her friends. This served a point in the end, but still... I would have liked it if she would have been a little bit more "like-able" a little bit sooner. Thankfully, by the end you love her, and are rooting for her.
My other issue with this book was the content. I swear the characters (including Sam) are drunk or smoking or partying or doing drugs or talking/thinking/etc. about sex for way more than half of this book. And the whole thing with her teacher? Absolutely disgusting, IMO. It is a personal preference, I know, but I really don't like drug use in any form in YA novels; and in this book it's not only prevalent, it's casual, it's ALL the time, and it seems like everyone is doing it in some form or another. (Especially at the party we get to relive with her over and over.) I know some people don't care, or even say it makes it more "realistic", but I disagree. I think it just encourages teens to engage in habits that are life-destroying. (Trust me, I've seen it happen.) There are so many amazing YA books that don't include all of that. Okay, I will put my soapbox away, but definitely be warned--this is a book I would not let me teenager read until I know they are mature enough to handle the content.
If you put those two things aside, this book was amazing. The writing is surprisingly beautiful (especially considering how full of the aforementioned content it is!), and the plotline takes you all over the emotional spectrum. It ends up being heartbreaking, poignant and surprisingly moving. So, be warned about the content, understand that you're probably not going to like her or her friends for a good portion of this book, but that in the end it's worth the read.
Stay tuned for information about a giveaway of this ARC!! (Right, Aubs??)


Book Crazy Jenn said...

I really want to read this book - I loved your review, so honest.

Aubrey (AKA Stacey) said...

Thanks for your review. It is always hard for me to read books with what I consider unnecissary content. But it sounds like a really interesting read too!

And yes, we will be giving away an ARC of this soon!

Elle Strauss said...

Thanks for the honest review and for calling out gratuitous use of drugs/sex/swearing in YA.

I'm Erin said...

Wow thanks for the heads up on this one. I've been wanting to read it, but probably wont. I'm sick of all the muck in YA.


Great review, I also put my review up today too :)