Monday, October 25, 2010

Falling for BEFORE I FALL

We all have those books that we pass by in the store and even though everyone and your mother has raved about it, you say to yourself, "Self, this just doesn't look like a book you'd enjoy."  Now, don't lie.  It's just us here, so you can be honest.  Admit it.  You've been there, too.  Many, many, many times. 

Admit it, damn it!!

BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver was one such book for me.  Every single time I'd pass it by in the store, I'd pick it up, read the book jacket, and then put it down to browse other, more interesting looking books.  I mean, seriously.  I'd seen Groundhog's Day with Bill Murray in it. (Hasn't everyone?) Why would I want to read a book that was essentially the same thing, only with a teenage girl reliving the last day of her life, over and over and over again?  I had better books to read.

So, this is where I admit that the only reason I actually picked up this book was for purely selfish reasons.  What does that mean, you ask?  Well, while my most recent effort was happily riding the Query Train, I received the best bad news I could ever get. Ever.  In my sad little Inbox, among the standard form rejections--from both queries and full/partial requests--I got an email from one agent that was neither a rejection, nor was it an offer for representation.  Yippee! Within this email, said agent talked about how the agent loved my writing and the formatting with which I delivered the story.  HOWEVER, agent was not quite sure that my story had enough of a standout quality for a first book...that this was more like a second or a third book, agent said.  Agent then went on to compare my work to others, (and not in a gushing way but in a these-are-better-and-let-me-tell-you-why way)

The first one that my work was compared to was BEFORE I FALL.  So, I went out and bought that book (and a few others like it), in the hopes of immersing myself in the writing of people that had made it, so I could learn and be stronger with my next work.

And, boy was I bowled over.  First off, I really did not like Sam Kingston, the main character.  She was a mean girl, any way I looked at it, and when the first time she lived the last day of her life came to an end, I was like, "You so deserved this, you mean, mean girl."  But, it was this flawed, popular, snotty girl that kept me turning the pages.  And each time she relived Friday, February 12, she grew and evolved, and I liked her more and more to the point that I found myself hoping against hope that maybe just maybe she'd find a way to save herself from certain death.

BEFORE I FALL is probably one of the best books I've read this year, and I've read a lot of great books in the past 10 months, so that is saying something.  If you haven't read this book, run right out and get it.  Buy it, or borrow it or...well, don't steal it.  That's illegal, not to mention immoral ;)  My point is, read this book.  You will be so glad you did....And if a certain agent is reading this (you know who you are) thanks so much for naming this book in your email to me.  I would never have read it otherwise, and I'm kind of sad to think that I might have missed out on this awesome book otherwise :)

What about all you fun folks?  Have you read anything lately that you never thought you'd like, but were pleasantly surprised?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments!