Before I Fall

Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver

I'm not quite sure why I am on such a contemporary YA kick lately (except that all of my holds from the library came in simultaneously--that probably explains both my reading choices and my lack of writing, actually), but I enjoyed this.


When it finally came in, I couldn't remember a blasted thing about it, so I was charmed by the plot, although not by the characters. Sam is a pain. She does grow throughout the book, but good grief, let's be honest here: she was a high school bully. She learns from the situation she has been put in and by the end I was rooting for her, but this was one of those situations where I was very happy that I read quickly, because having not been a high school bully (are any of us who read to the point that we are on a website like this the types who could look back and go "Yup, I totally bullied people in high school and was not bullied at all"? I'm curious.) and thus not having rose-tinted glasses for the whole experience, chunks of it were rough to read.


Several of the other characters do not get the kind of development I would like. Sam eventually realizes she is kind of a bitch, and I understand, given the situation, that the other girls in her little posse probably can't develop into better people, but I would have preferred that we not have Sam sweep the fact that several of them are genuinely horrid people under the rug with "Oh, well, she was upset for this completely ridiculous reason a decade ago at this person, so she is actually a nice person underneath it all although she has had a decade-long grudge of crazy." Because that is not development, that is not what that means, that does not excuse that kind of nonsense. You are welcome, Sam, to like her in spite of her flaws; nobody is perfect and maybe she has been a good friend to you (I don't see it, but okay, sure, your friends are sometimes your friends), but she is not a nice person because she is nice to you. Her behavior to other people still counts, and I hated to see this handwaved when the whole point of this novel is for Sam to have some character development about why her behavior was wrong.


Sorry, that was kind of a long and crazy rant. I'm not sure I realized how much it bothered me until I started typing, there.


Now that I have whined about the things that were wrong, it seems only fair to talk about the things done right, since in the end, as you will probably note by my score, I liked this book.


I enjoyed the ending, which I felt was very appropriate. I liked Sam's character development. I loved the focus on the little moments and small things that you don't always stop to notice or care about enough, and Sam's ability to appreciate them as time went on (or, okay, didn't). I liked the plot, although it has been done before to some extent, and I enjoyed watching it play out as she realized what was going on.


And Kent. Kent I loved. Kent was amazing and adorable.


All in all, I did like this. I'm happy I read it. It was interesting and intriguing, but I'm probably not going to re-read it and it is not the sort of thing that will stick with me very long.