Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall (published 2010; now also a Netflix film) is yet another variation on the theme of Groundhog Day, in which the protagonist must relive the same day over and over until some object is achieved. But where Groundhog Day and most of its pop-culture tributes use the trope for mostly comedic effect, Before I Fall plays it deadly serious.
Despite its high-school setting, Before I Fall is not really (or at least not typically) Young Adult fiction. There are elements of romance, but love and friendship are more dominant themes. More important still is the difference between perception and reality, so that by the end of the book no one is who they were at the start. With each day, Sam learns more about herself and the people around her.
Seven days (six in the film). I watched the film twice before reading the book, and once immediately after. Reading the book certainly makes you see things in the film that you probably wouldn’t; both are good, and the adaptation is fairly faithful, but a lot of secondary characters were cut out in the film version – which is inevitable, but one of key themes in the book is how Sam’s actions (like the butterfly of chaos theory) have consequences for the people around her.
I love the film. I love the book.