Monday, November 1, 2010

To Fall For, "before i fall"

before i fall by Lauren Oliver

What if you only had one day left? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

My review:

There are novels that you read and they stick to your insides, like your heart is beating the black ink text, instead of blood. It’s as if you are suspended over the world you are flipping through, watching, silently waiting to know what happens next, and can you, yourself, be saved from The End.

This is one of those books.

I believe there are two ways for a book to become you, one, amazing writing, two, the book becomes a mirror into your own life. I was never the mean girl, in fact I went out of my way when I was younger to be nice to everyone, all the outsiders, all the losers, Everyone. Like. Me. Eventually this quality got kicked out of me, I spent so long being the bottom rung girl that when middle school loomed above me one hot August day, I knew- it’s eat or be eaten.

So my seventh grade year, I learned how to style my hair, wear makeup and dress fashionably. I learned my first cuss word and used them, a lot. I brought my own lunch, but squeezed in fries and cookies from the lunch lines, because it was cool. I learned to speak in sarcasm and went head over heels crazy for a boy, while all my many “friends” watched in awe. Because I was sexy. I finally found what I was, in a world of blond, skinny, whiny cheerleaders, I could be sultry, my dark hair and big blue eyes, pale skin and well-endowed chest gave me the advantage and the right to wear heels and pencil skirts. I wasn’t slutty, but I was unique, I wore red lipstick and though I wasn’t the ‘it’ girl, or a cheerleader or even mean, I was someone at long, long last, I was someone.

After that year things changed, I won’t go into detail but I lost all my friends, I had to move and I lost that someone entirely, I mean, sure, my closet was still full of heels and red lipstick, but the ‘it’ factor just flamed out, and I was too sad to really care that it happened when I landed in high school.

Funny enough, though I wasn’t tortured in high school, I mean there was plenty of gossip, but no torture there, I felt constantly plagued by the “failures” of my youth. I was traumatized remembering all the things I had faced, and all the new fears I had on my plate swallowed me whole. Popularity didn’t matter, neither did existing, I just wanted to pass through, no one notice me, I just want to be alone. Unlike Juliet, from before i fall, it wouldn’t have been the constant reminders from other people that would have gotten to me, it would have been my own memory, constantly replaying the laughter, humiliation and pain I kept stored inside.

Now, I know what y’all are thinking, is this the pitch for her book?, no, it’s not, this is my life, the one I survived living, if you will. Barely, if you must know. So I feel a deep sense of kinship with the characters of novels such as Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, or Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, and now before i fall, by Lauren Oliver and I have become family.

This is the most truthful book you will ever read about the hierarchy and the horror of high school. This is teenage wasteland, America, this is what it is. Sad, right? Yeah, I think so too, but I am so happy that in light of recent suicide’s of teenagers across the country, books like this are flying off the shelves.

Oliver sat down and wrote truth and clarity, there is no cliche present, but the vague sense that you have been here before will ring out page by page. I don’t think that’s because this novel is anything like you’ve ever read before, but because it’s just like going back to your high school, or middle school, whichever was worse for you.

The characters were amazing, truly, every bad girl (Lindsey) has unspoken reasons as to why they are so hateful, why they need to boost of having others below them, I wish we could have gotten more back story on Alley and Elody though, but that was my constant thought in this book, more, more, more, more, more, more, more! It was so good, I just wanted more! I loved Anna, she was my very favorite, and I felt the most for her, she was so not skanky, even if she was ‘the other woman.’ The only cliche character was Sam’s boyfriend, but it wasn’t in an off-putting way, more like, with Kent out there, why would anyone be interested in this dude?! I love Kent... I want a Kent, I want to love a Kent, he’s too cool, too sweet and he is absolutely my hero! Juliet and Marian were so sad, so similar, but such opposites, one got the easy road, one got the bad end of things, I wish Juliet didn’t desire to give up, I do really wish Oliver had dug into that a bit more. Juliet just sort of stopped being there, just like I did, but I know that my thoughts were running wild all the time, even if you couldn’t see them on my face. Izzy is my favorite little sister ever, and I cried when she and Izzy went to Goose Point together, I cried and cried! And finally, Sam, Samantha, oh, if Aristotle were still alive he would bravo Oliver himself, for her tragic flaw heroine.

Aristotle wrote, in his works titles Aristotle’s Poetics, of a tragic hero, which was, a being, the protagonist of the story, who possessed on tragic flaw that did not immortalize him. That sums up Samantha Kingston to a T. Blindedness, I guess you could call it, the unwillingness to see the repercussions of her own actions in other peoples lives. I don’t believe she didn’t care, she spent the last day of her life, seven times over, trying to care. I guess she had finally done it, gotten out from everyone’s thumb, so she became oblivious to the people she had once been, to those she knew too well. Oblivious is a good way to describe her, a heroine, tragically flawed, mortal.

Spoiler alert!

Alright, if you have yet to read before i fall, go pick up a copy, tear through it, like I know you will, because whether you were a Lindsey, a Samantha, a Kent, an Elody, an Anna, a Brigit, a Tara, an Izzy, a Marian, or an Alex, you are in this book somewhere. Now that you have done that and are reeling from reading The End, imagine a sequel. I have, and Lauren, if you read this, I insist you steal my idea and write the heck out of that book!

Here is my idea and the major spoiler, I mean it, turn back now!

The high school that the novel was set in is called the “Suicide School” by many Americans, having one of the highest casualty rates of any public high school. I think Oliver should go with that, the book being set immediately after Sam’s death, Kent, Lindsey and Juliet, three complete opposites in character, as well as social standing (and if they care) with three equally important back stories, should tell the tale of how they changed everything.

In the wake of the heroic death of Samantha Kingston, her lost love, Kent, her best friend Lindsey and the girl she saved, Juliet, must unite to rewrite past wrongs, and bring back Sam from a glitch in time. Samantha was never meant to die, Juliet either, suicide was the only way out for these girls, haunted by the past, haunted by the present.

In their grief, the three come together, seeing Izzy’s pain most of all, and learn that they are all having strange dreams, dreams from their memories, where they know the present and how the event from the past that they are standing in will eternally change the lives of many. They decide then that these dreams are more than just dreams, they are chances, they have one shot to change things, they have to be in equal parts, selfless, brave and empathetic. They win some, they loose some, and struggle with the guilt of how things rest on their shoulders. They learn more about themselves, and the events that led to personal choices which branched out, affecting others in turn. They begin to let go of the pain from their home lives, choosing to stand up for what is right and good.

Kent wants her back to love. Lindsey wants her back to tell her all her secrets. Juliet wants her back to as why. Will they get the chance?

So, will they get the chance, Ms. Oliver, I ask you? No, wait, I beg you, I beg you to take this idea and run with it, tweak it, change it, make it better, but please write it! I even have the title for you, are you ready for this?

When I Wake, the sequel to the best-selling novel, before i fall by Lauren Oliver.

What does everyone think? Please comment below and tell me if you think this sequel pitch kicks tush!

Notes on the Names: As a name freak, I immediately noticed that of the four girls, three had names that ended in y. Lindsey, Elody and Alley were set apart from Samantha by this subtle, brilliant choice. I believe it was deliberate to give them this boundary, Elodie and Allie can also be spelled in this way, and Elodie is far more popular than Elody. All the names were amazing, and Izzie for Elizabeth was outstanding! Marian spelled Marion is one of my very favorite names, so I let out a little gasp of happy when I read it!

Thoughts on the cover: I love the cover, the lights affect on the side and back especially, but I was a bit confused as to why she is laying in hay, or grass, as it was Cupid day (in February when she fell) also, you may have noticed that I have not been capitalizing the title, well, look again at the cover, you’ll see why. I wonder, is it lower case because it looks better over her features, or is there some other reason?

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