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Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (audio)
labandbooks
proseandkahn
MP3 Book, 12 hours, 25  minutes. Performed by Sarah Drew. Harper Teen, March, 2010.

Samantha Kingston is an "it girl." She's also a mean girl. And so are her friends. The four rule the school, have their pick of tables, parking spaces and boys. On Cupid Day, Sam is looking forward to gathering a large collection of roses and maybe even beating Lindsay out for the most. Of course they are sending the usual rose with the usual cruel message to Juliette "Psycho" Sykes.

She is also planning on losing her virginity to her alpha male boyfriend that night. She has mixed feelings about this, but they have been dating for four months and Sam cannot think of a reason not to get it over with. Then Kent invites her to his party. Kent, who used to be her best friend. Kent who sent her the most beautiful rose. Kent who is too geeky to give the time of day. Of course, all sorts of things go wrong at the party ending with Sam's death. But then she wakes up, and it's Cupid Day all over again. And again. And again. Sam gets to relive the last day of her life seven times.

I had this one on my pile forever. I was lucky enough to get an arc! But I just had too much required reading. It finally became required reading when I signed up for Bookfest@Bankstreet. I chose the "Dead Teens" group, led by Jennifer Hubert Swan, and it was one of four titles featuring dead or dying teen girls. I ended up downloading the audio book to my iPad to read with my ears, mostly while walking the dog and raking leaves. The last two times I disliked the main character, was after reading Going Bovine and Before I Die. Man, was Sam unsympathetic.

Sam and her friends were not nice, to each other or many others at school. Sam wasn't always popular. She was, in fact, made fun of by Lindsay and her boyfriend. But then Lindsay decided she was cool and that was that. When she's totally honest with herself, she lives in fear of that day when Lindsay decides she isn't cool.

The book has been compared to Ground Hog day. I have never seen the movie, but assume that it's a comedy. There is very little funny about this book though. It is intense and frank. I loved Sarah Drew's performance of the story. Her voices were distinct. Her timing was perfect. I was always thoroughly engaged in the story. There were no distractions to pull me out of it.

So, I am glad I finally got to it and am looking forward to reading Lauren Oliver's sophomore novel, Delirium.