Review: Before I Fall

Title: Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: October 25, 2010
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Synopsis:

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.

I wrote this review for a media class, and I figured I’d post it since a) I already wrote it, and b) the movie just released recently. Let me know if you want more reviews like this in the future. Here it is:

I turned the last page of Before I Fall expecting one more line, a funny quip, or even an epilogue. All I got were the Acknowledgements, and I sat there for a moment stunned. How could it just end like that?

Originally published in 2010, the novel Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver is gaining worldwide attention due to the upcoming release of its movie adaption by the same name. The movie stars Vampire Academy actress Zoey Deutch as Samantha Kingston. According to the synopsis, Sam is popular, has the perfect boyfriend, and dies on Friday, February 12, only to wake up the next morning and relive the day of her death six more times.

I decided to take a chance on the book before watching the movie. As they say, the book is always better.

Without spoiling anything, I have to say that Samantha’s character undergoes a huge transformation throughout the story. Although we only see seven days of her life, her character develops exponentially. Sam plays by the rules of her friend group without really questioning why they do the things they do. As the book progresses, we see Sam become herself, living her life authentically and being more accountable for her actions.

Each relived day is spent differently – the first two are slightly similar, then she spends a couple full of angst, and then another day is spent solely with her family. Each day is a testament to how multifaceted our lives are, and how easily we neglect different aspects of them.

Something I often didn’t think about during high school was that my friends were basically my family. I saw them eight to nine hours a day, spoke to them when I was home, and hung out with them during the weekend. My family was on the backburner. This is true in Sam’s story as well. Her friends have become such a large part of her life that her family is neglected as a result.

That being said, there is more to it than that. With friends, there is the potential for judgment and shame for saying or doing the wrong things. There is also a certain amount of scrutiny that you are under when you are popular. Sam reflects on this as she watches her friends bully people, her boyfriend belittle her, and people’s reactions to her being nice. It is fascinating how much is missed when focusing on oneself.

Before I Fall encourages readers to examine their everyday choices. A couple changes here and there lead Sam to learn things about her friends, family, teachers, and classmates that she would never have known otherwise. Her relationships were superficial, and she drifted through life with ease. When push came to shove, however, she began to see people for who they were and began to challenge the status quo.

Before I Fall is a very easy book to lose yourself in – the plot is well developed, the characters are thoroughly fleshed out, and the story feels real, relevant, and heartbreaking. In the end, I gave Before I Fall four and a half stars of five.

Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Cover: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.92/5

Day 11: Name Three Absolutely Awful Film Adaptations of Books.

Worst films this time, let’s go:

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The Mortal Instruments – City of Bones: I love, love, LOVE the cast. I also like some of the things they added and took away between the movie and the book. However, I hate their slogan of sorts “You Have Been Chosen.” No one was chosen. She was born like that so don’t go doing the whole “chosen one” thing. Harry Potter expended that entire concept for this generation. We’re kind of done with the whole “chosen one” thing. In addition, this movie could have been directed/written better. I loved that they kept some of the lines for the movie and I loved the way certain scenes played out. However, a lot of the lines that they did keep from the books were placed awkwardly in various scenes that just didn’t sit well with me (the whole shirt ripping thing, then the dog/wolf line, and Magnus’ part just was awkward (and I know he can act ’cause Godfrey was awesome in Queen of SOP)) and don’t get me started with the whole sprinkler system thing. That was so cliche. I did like various scenes though (the Hotel Dumort sequence was well done) so it wasn’t all bad, but it could have been so much better.

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Inkheart: This movie just sucked in my opinion. I watched it 5-6 years ago so I can’t remember exactly what sucked, but it REALLY sucked. The characters were nothing like that expected (I remember that much) and the Ink world wasn’t as developed as I would have hoped (I remember that much as well), but aside from that I can’t pick out anything that really drove me insane, I just know that when I finished watching it, I regretted buying it.

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Eragon: As a stand alone movie this would have been a little bit better, but because it was, in fact, based on a book, it just didn’t meet expectations. Again, it’s been years since I watched it, but I just remember wishing there was more to it, especially development in both story/plot and character.

Again, this isn’t an exhaustive list, I also wasn’t particular to Twilight, Percy Jackson the Lightning Thief (if we’re comparing the book to the movie. As a stand alone, it would’ve been pretty good), as well as the Series of Unfortunate events. The real live people version of Cat and the Hat just did not do it for me (and the Cat was really creepy…). However, because I recently watched City of Bones, I just wanted to blow off some steam. Eragon and Inkheart, on the other hand, really did not meet my expectations as film adaptions of such intricate stories.

Day 10: Name Five Absolutely Amazing Film Adaptations of Books

Alright, here we go:

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A Walk to Remember: My favourite movie and book to movie adaption~

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Breaking Dawn – Part 2: There was action in this one. ACTION. Best of the Twilight movies.

 

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The Hunger Games – Catching Fire: This was an amazing adaptation. Ahh ~ And the fashion *A*

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Percy Jackson – Sea of Monsters: I really liked they way the spun to movie. Super excited to see what they’ll do next with the series.

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The Help: An amazing story. The movie was just as good as the book !

I’d also like to say I loved the (bit I’ve seen of the) Harry Potter Movies (yeah, so I haven’t watched… 7 of the yet. I’m getting there), as well as The Time Traveler’s Wife. The Notebook was amazing too, as was The Host.

Day 19: Favorite Book Turned Into A Movie

I LOVED A WALK TO REMEMBER.

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Like it’s been my favourite movie since I was in like second grade. I read the book in ninth or tenth grade and I can honestly tell you that I enjoyed the movie way more. The cast was amazing and they managed to do something with the story that Nicholas Sparks couldn’t (though I can’t tell you what, because I honestly don’t know..). Definitely my favourite book adaptation. If you haven’t yet seen the movie check it out ASAP!

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