Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Posted by Cobalt | Posted in | Posted on 5:42 PM

Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Samantha Kingston wakes up late on Cupid Day and rushes down the stairs to meet her best friend Lindsay, barely sparing a moment to snap at her little sister before she jumps in the car. Morning greetings and coffees are exchanged; bets are made on who will get the most roses in school.

Sam's especially nervous today, since it's going to be the Big Night for her and Rob, her perfect-popular boyfriend. Her friends won't let her forget it, either; Elody is merciless, but Lindsay valiantly promises that her best friend won't die a virgin.

Fate was just waiting for that line.

Because by the end of this day, Sam will be dead.

Well, it's actually a little confusing -- she remembers the midnight rain and screaming and the skidding tires, but then her alarm is shrieking in her ears and her little sister is bouncing on her bed and Lindsay's yelling that she'd better not make her late for Cupid Day...

I'm sure someone has made this comparison before, but this book is Groundhog Day meets Mean Girls.

The first part is obvious -- Sam is caught in an endless loop of her last day on earth -- but the second bit becomes more apparent as we get to know more about Sam and her friends. Like Lindsay, who steals Sarah Grundel's parking spot and scrawls graffiti in the bathroom about Anna Cartullo and invented the infamous theme song for Juliet 'Psycho' Sykes, which they all sing whenever she comes near...

These are not nice girls.

Sam is a interesting narrator, brutally frank about the cruelties of high school even as she enjoys the perks of being on top, brushing off the 'losers' with cold efficiency. Of course, Sam has a past, and as you learn more, you may be more inclined to sympathy -- or you'll just want to smack her. It's more through Sam's repetitions of the same day, and how these experiences change her, that we get to see a real character to connect with.

The only weak point I found was the sheer length of the book -- the writing was smooth and engaging, with some poignant insights, but there just felt like one repetition too many in there. But that's no reason to avoid reading, because the whole experience is worth it.

So come along for the ride. Sam will take good care of you -- promise.

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