Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Actual Rating: 2.5


February 12 is Cupid’s Day. It is the day that determines where you are on the social pyramid, the day that determines whether you are popular, or if you are a nobody. But for Samantha Kingston, it is also the day she died. Except not really. When she opens her eyes, it is February 12. And so the cycle begins. Sam lives her last day day seven times- and each time is a chance to change the ending.

The word ‘plotline’ is kind of funny, when you think about it – because it’s really seven smaller plots mashed into a bigger one. This was definitely unique in that sense, but I also felt like the story started off very slowly. Chapter one was the first day, the chapter that allowed the readers to gain a full understanding of what Sam’s original ending would be, but the chapter seemed long, boring, and tedious, full of irrelevant details.

In the beginning, I was extremely annoyed with Sam and her group of friends. They were bratty, overly dramatic and stereotypical “popular mean girls”, and the way they acted just seemed unrealistic. They were unlikable, and to be perfectly honest, if I could, I would have punched them all in the face two pages in. There were several scenes where Sam seemed to be complaining that she was paying an unfair price, that she didn’t deserve this, because “other people have done worse” – she kept wallowing in self-pity, and it came off as selfishness and hypocrisy.

It took a long time for Sam to progress through her own character development, but there were so many moments where she regressed, or didn’t even seem to have changed at all. She saw herself as newly made, rebellious, and different from her old, bullying self, but she stole her mother’s credit card and continued to laugh at others, continued to pursue popularity. She was the same person, just around a different group of people.

I’m also a little unsure about the relationship with Kent. At first I thought they were cute together, and I would have been perfectly find with them as a couple – my issue is with how quickly her attitude changed. Now, I’ve never been in love so I can’t speak for myself, but Sam went from ‘He’s a freak and I want him to leave me alone’ to a lovesick puppy who “missed” Kent ten seconds after they kissed.

Overall, I just wasn’t really impressed with the character arcs. The book was extremely Sam-centric, and while that makes sense, I don’t think there was enough closure, especially with Lindsay (the best friend) either. Firstly, the backstory wasn’t fleshed out enough, and secondly, she was – if possible – worse than Sam, and we barely got to glimpse at what she did, much less why she did it. And to be honest, throughout the book, I viewed Sam’s entire clique as one-dimensional; it wasn’t until the end, where she gave paragraphs describing what she loved about each of her friends, did I seem to be able to view them as actual people with individual personalities.

Several parts of the book left me wondering why they were even included. Sam’s interactions with her teacher (Gross, by the way), didn’t seem to provide a purpose other than to show Sam’s character progression, but she still seemed to come off as bratty.

Overall, although I liked the writing style, I had too much of an issue with the main characters to rate this higher than a 3. The ending gave me some closure – and I could definitely see how Sam had progressed, but it just wasn’t enough.


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