I planned to review The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, but a week hasn’t proved long enough for that large book. Instead, feeling ill in bed last night, I downloaded Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver, currently on 99p Kindle Deal.
This isn’t my usual style of book, I enjoy teenage speculative fiction and this is set in US high school, where there are defined differences between sets of pupils. I started this book at 11pm, and between coughing bouts and attempts to sleep, ended up finishing it at 3am. The style is engaging and fast paced, hooking you straight into the story.
Teenager, Sammy, has been accepted into one of the popular groups at school, run by Lindsay. Not a natural bully, she falls into the role of tormentor to amuse her friends. In particular, Lindsay’s venom is directed at Juliet, who they all mock mercilessly. The book takes a dark turn when Sammy loses her life in a car crash, but wakes up the next day in Groundhog Day. This is not the most original idea, yet it works well here, along with a touch of The Butterfly Effect.
Expecting a tale of sophisticated, smart teenagers, the underlying theme of redemption and guilt surprised me. Sammy is forced to open her eyes to the behaviour of herself and her friends in a way that is both sad and shocking. This book shows the effect that bullying can have and touches on the theme of teenage suicide.
Other reviewers have criticised the book for its lack of positive main characters, but I liked the flawed group that made up, Before I fall. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to go to school with them, however as characters in a book they were interesting and carried the story well. If you have a main character that is going to change her mind-set in the way Sammy did, you can’t start off with a perfect person in the first place. Characters, like people, have to grow and change.
This book is a thought provoking, intelligent read that I would be pleased to spot a teenager reading.
Has anyone else read it? Leave your comments below!