Jay Asher, who wrote Thirteen Reasons Why, wrote the blurb on the cover of Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver. He claims I'll "have no choice but to tear through this book." And he is so damned right.
The sort of sad part about the blurb is that this book is everything his book wanted to be. It's more observant, thoughtful, probing, clever. It's deeper; it uses its gimmick better. I was more moved. Thirteen Reasons Why left me kind of cold--I heard the story, but it didn't touch me. It was a good idea, and it was an okay book, but it wasn't much more than that.
Before I Fall might be a great book. It knows how to feel sympathy for mean girls, shallow people, sexist pigs, without--and this is important--excusing them or forgiving them. It knows what's fun about high school, as well as how much it sucks. It understands popularity on so many more levels, and unpopularity, too.
And it doesn't waste any time justifying its gimmick. Sam Kingston is living the same day over and over again, yeah yeah. It's not like she takes it in stride, but no precious real estate is wasted trying to figure out how or why. It doesn't waste your time retelling the parts that don't need it, either--for a long book, it is beautifully economical.
I couldn't put it down. I set aside all the other books I was reading and just ploughed right on through. Jay Asher was right. I'm sorry I couldn't love his book this much, but my hat is off to Lauren Oliver.