Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Back in August, the teen book world was all abuzz about Lauren Oliver's Delirium, a dystopian title in which love has been cured. I thought it sounded super cool and made one of the Junior Junkies buy it on a bookstore trip. And have been waiting to borrow it. So when I had the opportunity to review Oliver's debut, Before I Fall, I jumped!

Samantha Kingston and her friends are popular. They can get away with just about anything. It's Cupid Day, a day they've all been waiting for. A day when popularity can be measured by the number of roses received. It's also the day Sam will die. But then Sam wakes up on Cupid Day again. The day starts the same as before, but as Sam's reactions change, the day begins to change as well. For Sam, every day will be Cupid Day until she gets it right. Save herself? Save her friends? Prevent the accident altogether? The options are endless and Sam's actions are the key.

I liked this book. I thought it had a lot of depth to the story. I've seen this sort of "what if" scenario in part before (and Sam even mentions Groundhog Day in the book), but this was a case where the author got it right.

One of the things I liked most was the way Oliver touches on sensitive subjects -- topics that are around us everyday and can easily become overwhelming or overly preachy. She handles them with ease and in a way that teen readers should appreciate.

As for Sam and her friends, it would be easy to paint the popular girls as the bad guys. And they aren't. They're teens and they're friends and they each have problems of their own. Oliver portrays them as whole characters rather than caricatures of Mean Girls, appropriate since they're the main characters of the book. Those kinds of flat stereotypes work fine with peripherals, but in this case they carry the story. The reader gets a chance to know them and connect with them, making them more real.

Lauren Oliver is definitely an author I'd like to see more of. You can bet I'll be snagging my sister's copy of Delirium as soon as I can, especially with its sequel, Pandemonium, due out next March.

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