Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall is a novel with a sort of “Groundhog Day” plot that describes the main character, Samantha, reliving the last day of her life for a week. During this week, Samantha ponders her life up until then, and even tries to make serious changes in her life. Of course, nobody else realizes the never-ending loop besides Samantha, and she seeks any way to exit this loop to an uncertain future.
As for what I liked about the book, I can say that the main character was very well-rounded, and the story was extremely well-written. I couldn’t put the book down by the time I had gotten past the first couple times she had relived her last day. There wasn’t really a good vs. evil conflict. Instead, the main struggle was the main character battling with herself, who she used to be, and who she wants to be. She’s not perfect in any way, and I loved that Lauren Oliver wrote her and the other characters in such a fashion. I was able to connect with the characters, and it was as though I had simply entered into the mind of a fellow teenager.
On the other hand, I have to say that Lauren Oliver did leave more to be desired about minor/major characters and their back-stories, particularly with Samantha’s closest friends. Her friend group is tight-knit and there are mentions of dark attributes in some of the girls’ pasts. I wish Lauren Oliver had elaborated more on these. I was genuinely interested in learning about the other girls because this made them more real. The past of one of the girls is discussed in a chapter, but I really feel that more could have been put into setting up their lives to allow for some serious character development.
Overall, I loved this book. I had one main critique, but other than that, I enjoyed every minute of reading Before I Fall, especially the surprising and intense end (no spoilers!). I would recommend this book for anyone over the age of fourteen because of the mature themes, sexual content, and language. If this book intrigues you, then I would say go on ahead and pick it up. You won’t be disappointed.