Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver

They say to live every day as if it’s your last – but you never actually think it’s going to be. You always think you’ll have more time. That’s what popular high school students Sam thought, but she was wrong.

Sam dies in a terrible accident one night. However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realises that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

Sadly, this book is too cliche, predictable and unrealistic to make a lasting impact. Think of any high school movie and you’ll find the typical cliche character – the snarky popular girls, the jocks, loners, a cute nerdy boy, bad girls turned good, and clueless parents. Every issue or problem that crops up is, once again, cliche.

Sam quickly works out that for every action there is a reaction and that she has the power to change her outcome. Despite this, she remains a shallow and selfish young woman. When she discovers that she and her friends cause a schoolmate to commit suicide, it barely causes a ripple in Sam’s conscious. Starting a relationship with a lovely schoolmate, knowing full well of her predicament and that it will cause him immense heartache, further cements Sam’s complete lack of growth.

The story just doesn’t have enough drama, action or surprise in it to make it a great read. It becomes repetitive and cumbersome. The seven days drag on and on, with a disappointing, pointless ending to top it off. While I can appreciate Oliver’s attempt to drive home the message of don’t be a bully, your words have an impact, etcetera, etcetera, her execution failed this time round.

The book was first released in 2010. This re-release is because Before I Fall has now, predictably, been turned into a movie. Hitting cinema screens in New Zealand this month, sadly, the novel doesn’t compel me to watch it on the big screen.

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TITLE: Before I Fall
AUTHOR(S): Lauren Oliver
RRP: $19.99
ISBN: 9781473654785

Rebekah is an Otago-based mother of two young girls. The former journalist and primary school teacher has a soft spot for New Zealand authors and young adult fiction. Follow her on Twitter.

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