Before I Fall
I also really liked the way that all the repeat days were actually quite different each time - one thing I always fear with Groundhog's Day-type stories is the tedium of having to go through everything more than once. But it worked really well here.
** spoiler alert ** I really liked the middle of this book, but was kind of disappointed in the ending. Maybe this was a kind of purgatory to teach Sam the error of her ways by making her relive her last day 7 times, before she was finally able to die the final time and move on to whatever was next. It seemed a bit like a deathbed conversion though, that she had the chance to make things right -- kind of -- before her final death.
I liked the Groundhog Day aspect, and the mention of the many worlds of parallel unive I really liked the middle of this book, but was kind of disappointed in the ending. Maybe this was a kind of purgatory to teach Sam the error of her ways by making her relive her last day 7 times, before she was finally able to die the final time and move on to whatever was next. It seemed a bit like a deathbed conversion though, that she had the chance to make things right -- kind of -- before her final death.
I liked the Groundhog Day aspect, and the mention of the many worlds of parallel universes. There wasn't really any way to solve the problem of Juliet -- their tormenting and bullying toward her was too engrained to repair in just one day, no matter how many times she was granted to try it again. And that's what bothered me -- Sam's solution didn't feel like it would actually be successful. She did invoke Random Chance several times though, so that must be it.
Sam Kingston and her three best friends are popular seniors. Lindsay, Sam, Elody, and Ally are basically untouchable. Put down whomever they please. Go to the best parties. And after one of these parties, crash their car. This is where Sam’s story really begins. And ends. Over and over again. Sam is forced to repeatedly live through her last day and see how her choices change everything.
I’m going to start right off with what I didn’t like about the book: I basically hated all the main characters. Sam and her friends are the epitome of the mean-girls trope. They are pretty and popular, and that’s pretty much all they seem to care about. They are bullies: Lindsay being the particularly vicious one, but they all play along. (This is specific issue for me, if you know my history.) They, admittedly, do seem to care about each other, but they are the kind of best friends who call each other “bitch” and “slut” regularly, which I frankly find disgusting. Typically, not having characters I can care about from the beginning is a deal breaker for me. And I thought I was going to hate this book from the first couple of chapters.
Then, because I rarely give up on a book without finishing it, interesting things started to happen. Sam’s final day started changing more drastically. Twists were revealed. And I found myself hooked. I was still cringing at things that Sam and her friends would say or do, but I wanted to know what happened next enough that I ignored it (mostly). And as I hoped, Sam starts to - very slowly - have a change of heart. This is helped along by the more likeable side characters. Kent, in particular. Kent is the saving grace of characters in this book. He’s a goofy little sweetheart, who has wanted to be Sam’s hero since they were friends as kids. And finally gets his chance.
I can’t quite say I loved this whole book, but I do think it will stick with me. It was a thrilling ride, which turns emotional towards the end. Maybe having slightly unlikable characters is a necessity for telling a story like this. You had to see just how much of a change Sam went through.