BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver

I cannot believe that this is Lauren Oliver's first novel. It's just too good!

The teenagers in this novel are realistic - more realistic than any others I have read. Oliver has a thorough knowledge of high school politics. Though the book centres around the 'popular group' at high school, aka the mean girls, none of the characters seem fake. Yes, they do some downright b****y things, but they aren't totally evil as some mean girl characters are in other books, they do have redeeming qualities. That is what makes them so realistic. And not only are the supporting characters realistic, but they are strong. They have a definite depth; each and every one of them.

Sure the storyline is a little repetitive - but that's to be expected when a character is reliving the same day over and over again. It's testament to Lauren Oliver's writing abilities, however, that the book never becomes dull or boring. Each day is the same, and yet totally different. It shows how much impact a small thing, something you would consider inconsequential at the time, can have on not just on your life, but on others' lives too.

Samantha is originally not a character that I liked; she is quite mean and inconsiderate. But by the end of the novel, I really liked her, and I cared absolutely about what happened to her. This change, from not liking to loving, was so gradual that I didn't even notice it. Sam changed too, each day as she learned something new about herself or those around her and she became a little more wise.

This is one of those books that change the way you view the world. It is full of subtle, positive messages, and overall has a very carpe diem (seize the day) feel to it. It shows that you need to treasure every moment, because you don't know how many moments you have. I came close to crying a couple of times in Before I Fall, and at the end the tears finally poured, but it is one of the most beautiful endings you will ever read. This book is definitely one of my all time favourites, and I'm going to read anything Lauren Oliver writes in the future, anything and everything.

I rate Before I Fall at 5 stars out of 5. I recommend it to anyone and everyone, especially you!

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana.
She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out much. Not because she's
not pretty. She is. It's just that, well, Sookie has this sort of 'disability'. She
can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable. And then along
comes Bill: he's tall, dark and handsome - and Sookie can't 'hear' a word he's
thinking. He's exactly the type of guy she's been waiting for all her life.

But Bill has a disability of his own: he's a vampire. Worse than that, he hangs
with a seriously creepy crowd, with a reputation for trouble - of the murderous

And when one of Sookie's colleagues is killer, she begins to fear she'll be next...

* * * * * * * * * *

Sadly, I have never managed to watch the show "True Blood". I went into the Sookie Stackhouse series, totally unknowing as to what was going to happen, and who the characters were. I wouldn't call this series Young Adult, but it does have crossover appeal for teens (aged 16 plus, I'd recommend) so that's why I'm reviewing it here.

Right off the bat, if you're looking for a deep, meaningful book, you need to look somewhere else. Dead Until Dark isn't the kind of story that leaves you lying awake at night, pondering what it is that you've just read. It doesn't make you question yourself, your purpose or... anything really. But that doesn't mean it is a bad book. Some books are meant to be deep, others are there for pure entertainment, and Dead Until Dark is quite entertaining.

Some of the dialogue was very awkward and forced. I mean, I know Bill is old-fashioned but "I want to enter you again." Seriously? I'm only 16, and I may not have been alive 200 years ago, but I'm preeeeeeetty sure that's not a normal thing to say, no matter the time period. And on the topic of things not making sense... *SPOILER* Sookie finds her grandmother brutally murdered in her kitchen, her boyfriend then appears magically fast, and her first reaction isn't to scream and cry over the horrible sight before her eyes, it's to laugh at how ridiculous her boyfriend's shirt is. Huh!? *END SPOILER*

Overall, though, Dead Until Dark is a quick, fun, enjoyable read. Just beware going into it with very high expectations, this is very much a guilty pleasure read. I look forward to gonig on and reading the rest of the series!

I rate Dead Until Dark at 3&1/2 stars out of 5. I recommend it to lovers of vampire stories and paranormal romance, aged sixteen and over.