Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver
Released 2010
Borrowed from Library
ISBN – 978-0-340-98090-3
“They say that before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that’s not what happened for me.”


For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—”Cupid Day”—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night. However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.


Have you ever read a book that is so unfair that you want to yell at the author? One that is so heartbreaking that you sob for an hour after you close the cover? One that is so perfect that you hug it for hours?
This is that book. 
At the very beginning though, I hated it. The protagonist, Sam, and her friends were those high school queen bee bitches that we all either were, or hated. 
They lived a perfect little life in a perfect little bubble. Anyone outside of that bubble was outcast, a freak. Juliet Sykes was the biggest freak of them all and they tormented her every chance that the group got. 
Then Sam dies. 
Before I Fall is a fresh take on the “Groundhog Day” concept. Sam dies in a horrible car accident, and wakes up the next day to find that it is actually the first day all over again. She has to relive the day until she works out how to change the outcome and break the cycle. 
I can honestly say that Lauren Oliver has astounded me yet again with her writing. This time with her talent for voices. 
She captures Sam and her friends as popular perfectly. At the beginning of the book Sam’s monologues, and the way that she speaks directly to the reader, come across as spoilt, over confident and self-righteous. 
Gradually, as she grows her voice changes and she reads as slightly more compassionate and caring. 
Sam’s growth is amazing in the story and Lauren’s writing makes the reader really feel it. I went from hating her to really caring about her over the three hundred or so pages. Each day I loved her a little more.
I also loved how the story changed each day instead of Sam simply repeating her actions. This lead to us meeting new characters throughout the story. I enjoyed how they slipped in from the sidelines as though we were seeing them through Sam’s eyes. They had always been there, but not close enough to see clearly. We got to know each of them through Sam. 
This book took 5 stars without hesitation. I tried to find something to criticise or hate but I cannot. I adored it and I will re-read it until it’s spine falls out. (I am buying my own Dearest Librarian. Don’t worry)
Now if you don’t all mind, I’m going to go and sob a little more. 

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Macmillan Children’s Books
ISBN 970-1-4472-6323-7
Borrowed from Library
“There was a boy in her room.”

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

I generally do not like contemporary novels. I find them hard work and dull to read. Usually nothing really happens and that makes them hard for me to get into. I need action, not real life, to keep me interested.
Fangirl was highly recommended everywhere. Bloggers raved, twitter tweeted and everyone told me it was going to change my mind about contemporary. 
It didn’t. 
The book took me over a week to finish. For under 500 pages this is bad for me. A similar length dystopian would usually take me a couple of days. This book barely grabbed my attention for more than 15 minutes at a time. I had a relatively quiet week and instead of spending it reading the book, I found myself avoiding it. 
It wasn’t all bad. I found the characters to be likeable. Reagan especially. I do wish we had gotten more of her. I found her instantly likeable and fun. She brightened up the story with her wit and unconventional way of thinking.
Cath, Wren and their father were interesting to read too. I enjoyed the dynamic between the three of them, especially Cath’s reversed role with her father.

I definitely feel that Laura wasn’t included enough in the story. Her back story was vague and the lack of conclusion for her thread was disappointing. I would have loved to explore the relationship between Laura and Cath a bit more and to have gotten some feeling for how they moved forward beyond the book.

The worst part was that nothing happened. Well, stuff did happen but not in a build up-climax-aftermath sort of way. It felt like the story simply plodded along and was interspersed with pinpricks of tension that were always over before they got going. 
Another annoyance was the fan fiction sections. I won’t go into the series that they were obviously inspired by. I am sure that has been covered many times and much better than I could do it.
My issue is that there was too much. The snippets of Simon Snow possessed the story. They stopped the flow of the too often and too abruptly at times, ruining the rare occasion that I found myself settling in. When they did appear they were so cheesy! The writing in those sections was awful and I actually cringed inside at the mere sight of the font change that signalled simon snow. 
I couldn’t and still struggle to understand what the story was about  No single thread stands out as being a main one. I don’t know if it was a love story, or if it was about family struggles or about Cath’s first year in college (not that she left her room enough for that to be the case.) It was too muddled and bland. Nothing stood out at all and the ending … Just ended. It didn’t conclude anything.
The book left me feeling unsatisfied and definitely didn’t change my mind about the genre at all. Maybe some of you did enjoy it but this one really wasn’t for me.