This review does not contain spoilers.
That’s what I thought. But I was wrong.
The thing is, you don’t get to know when it happens. You don’t remember to tell your family that you love them or—in my case—remember to say goodbye to them at all.
What if, like me, you could live your last day over again? Could you make it perfect? If your whole life flashed before your eyes, would you have any regrets? Are there things you’d want to change?
Within the first few pages of Before I Fall, I had developed an intense dislike for the main characters with a passion. I honestly wasn’t sure if I would be able to finish the book because even the protagonist seemed so deeply unlikable that I didn’t want to hear her story. But I stuck with it and, in time, author Lauren Oliver had performed a miracle and made me truly care what happened.
Each time Sam relives her dying day, she becomes more human and her flaws and endearing qualities are made clearer. I was initially worried that, much like Groundhog Day, I would have to sit through the exact same set of events over and over again until there was nothing new or different about anything. But Sam relives the day in different ways, sometimes deviating entirely from the usual course of events, and continues to dwell on different aspects of her life as she comes to realisations about her friends and family.
The content of this book is unabashedly mature, and the main character matures with it. By the end of the book, she has completely transformed and is—thankfully—no longer a shallow young girl who engages in idiotic behaviour with no thought for the consequences. Sam becomes endearing and multifaceted, and her character development is a triumph for Lauren Oliver’s debut novel.
I’m happy that I stuck it out through the first 50-odd pages of Before I Fall, and by the end I was torn between eagerness to know how it ends and reluctance to let the story go. Lauren Oliver’s writing is compelling and her ability to create realistic and engaging characters is truly enviable.