Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
This is one of those books that you fall asleep reading because you can't put it down until your body forces you to. Not because it's boring. Far from it. I'm usually a slow reader so I was a little hesitant to get started on this nearly 500 page monster. It's heavy and intimidating. But once I got started I just. Couldn't. Stop. I finished it in less than two days. For me, that's saying something.
High school senior Sam Kingston is going to die today. We as the readers know this because her thoughts during her final moments are detailed in the prologue. Oh, you don't read prologues? Well, maybe you should. The prologue in this book is everything a prologue should be: short, tense, and raises the good kind of questions that keep you reading.
There are only seven chapters that follow, so if you're a math wiz you've already put two and two together. These are LONG chapters. I think the first one clocked in somewhere around page 80 (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, I don't have the book in front of me right now). But seriously, you barely notice the length. For a piece that has such a literary feel to it the story reads surprisingly quick. Each chapter is the last day of Sam's life, beginning with when she first wakes up and ending when she dies that night. You'd think starting with the "wake up" would be another no-no, but again, the execution here is superb.
In chapter one, Sam doesn't know what's coming... but we do. So we keep reading (Even though she and her friends could be described as typical "mean girls." I hated them all in the beginning). In chapter two, Sam is justifiably confused when she feels she's having a severe case of déjà vu but can still remember everything that happened the night before. (but the real mystery is how she remembers *anything* with how much drinking there was at that party. yowza) As the repeated days continue, Sam goes through differing reactions and emotions until she figures out what she has to do to stop this madness. Which is expected.
What I didn't expect was the ending. I'm still not sure whether I liked it or not, and unfortunately I can't discuss that here without ruining it for anyone who hasn't read it yet. Overall, this was EXCELLENT and I highly recommend it. If you shy away from books like this simply because they are labeled "YA" then you're seriously missing out.