About Me

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I'm immortally interested in cultural/literary deconstructions, feminism, anti-racism, South Korea, Supernatural, Sherlock Holmes, Hayao Miyazaki, Diana Wynne Jones, food (including but not limited to maple butter, tomatoes, and toast), fairy tales, parentheses, paper airplanes, films and books.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

after i fall

What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last.

Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

Before I fall is an interesting book. I didn't actually like it at all when I began but something strange made me read on. Probably the vindictive anticipation of seeing Sam die again. I really didn't like her. I'm not a fan of doormats and the main character was one in disguise. Also although Lindsay (narrowly) reminded me of one of my best friends, there was just something about her that made me feel nothing but disgust. I understand, though, how a girl like her could popular.

I don't however understand this concept of "mean girls". Maybe it's because my school was smaller than most, but I can't remember anyone actually bullying someone to their face like Sam, Lindsay, Elody and Ally did. The way they seemed to go out of their way to show others how much they disliked them. The "archenemies" and trailer-park girls and psychos seemed all so dramatic. I mean sure, I live in Canada and it might be different down South but really? Are teenagers really that mean, sad and shallow? It makes me feel terrified for my generation.

One things I loved about this book right out of the bat was Kent McFuller. Hands down one of the cutest guys ever grace my imagination. Ever. I swear I've never even met him and I could tell you puppies probably fall in love with him. I get the reason why Sam was so rude to him but at the same time, why would you? To someone that honest-to-God adorable, how could you be so cruel? It makes me sad to think of all the broken hearts most of the adorable boys in the world suffered before turning into jerks. (OK, that was a completely biased opinion but I've had it happened and seen it happened so I'm already a little disenchanted.)

I also loved the fact that none of the female characters were cardboard cut-outs. Even Sam's mom was surprising. Izzy is probably although my favorite female character. I want to give the author a virtual hug for actually letting the main character like her younger sibling. Not only does Sam like Izzy but she will get irritated by her because that is what older sisters do, after all. Their relationship is more than just annoyannoyannoy and that's a huge step forward from the family dynamics of recent YA books.

As Before I fall went on, Sam began to change. She started realizing the faults of her best friends, her boyfriend and the love she had been hiding all along for the rest of the world - and herself. I loved that this book wasn't just centered around the fact that Sam needed someone to rely on to get her through this. Oliver could have easily turned this into another wall-thrower of a novel complete with magical reincarnation, plucky "I'm ugly/pretty" girls and broody, hot male leads but she didn't. There was a realism to this book that I've felt have lacked in most YA magic-oriented books (mostly in the PR genre but I don't really classify this as such - it's more contemporary than anything else). Without seeing the person or entity behind the occurrence or knowing really why Sam's been given this chance, she's forced to go along with it and find out herself. This elevates Before I Fall to more powerful levels and draws out much more emotion in the end than it would have if there was some huge, twisted science-y explanation.

The best part is, in the end, the person who saved Sam wasn't even a boy at all. That I think is another one of the book's graces that kept going until the end. It was a book about friendship, through and through, and even if Sam found someone - a guy - to rely on, it was more to establish that she's not alone, that even though she is who she's become, there's always someone out there willing to listen. That's what helped Sam in her final mission and that's what made this book so deliciously good.

All in all=☆☆☆☆

(Because I actually did stay up all night to read it. Shh.)

*Summary provided by Goodreads.


  1. Really want to read Before I fall, and the newest release by Lauren Oliver, Delirium, great review.
    Kim @ http://sunniesarecool-reviewsbooks.blogspot.com/