Imagine if you could do over the last day of your life until you got it exactly right? What would you do differently? That’s the chance Samantha gets when she’s involved in a fatal drink-driving accident on her way home from a party. She’s at the top of the pile in her high school, wielding masses of social power, and yet the last day of her life shows her exactly how much power she has.
I started off absolutely despising the characters in Before I Fall. God, they’re horrible! Really dreadful. And yet I kept reading because Lauren Oliver’s writing is just so superb. She’s descriptive enough to keep you interested and engaged and she keeps Samantha and her friends just human enough for you to keep caring about them. The things they get up to are basically any parent’s nightmare.
Although the book is written from Samantha’s POV, you also get a real feel for the poor girl they pick on, Juliet Sykes. I was never bullied at school - thank Christ - and I was never a bully either, but holy crap, at some points it really feels like you’re the one Samantha and her friends are bullying.
There’s some romance in Before I Fall and it keeps you wondering whether, if Samantha finally manages to play out the last day of her life the way the fates want her to, they’ll finally end up together. Kent’s kind of gawky and seriously uncool but you can tell that once the nightmare of high school is over and he’s had a chance to grow into his character and talents, he’ll be fighting the girls off with a shitty stick.
Before I Fall raises so many questions about how the things we do affect other people, even tiny things that from the outside look totally inconsequential. It’s young adult and marketed as such, but it ought to be required reading for everyone.