Three Reviews: Before I Fall, A Man Called Ove, and Illuminae

The three books I’m reviewing today are nothing alike at all! One is about a bratty, spoiled high-schooler, another is about a grouchy old soul, and another is the first installment in a space adventure.

  • BeforeIFallCoverBefore I Fall by Lauren Oliver: Set in a Connecticut high school, Sam Kingston finds herself re-living the day of her death over and over again. This book is well written, however I found many of the characters extremely unlikeable, and therefore I could not care about the plot. Sam and her “friends” are the popular girls, and they are all bullies and aren’t even that nice to each other. And as the book tells the story of the same day over and over again, and most of the action involves Sam and her friends, it is difficult to be invested in something where you really don’t care what happens. And I didn’t care because I didn’t like Sam or her best friend Lindsay. They were mean, petty, and fake, and although Sam had glimpses where she could change, she never went as far as she could have, so I just ended up disappointed. I also did not understand the point of the book and the re-living of the day. It didn’t make any sense to me when it ended. I finished and was like “why on earth would that be the reason”. I just didn’t get it. Maybe I just don’t care for stories where days repeat, as I only got about 50 pages into Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life before I gave up. I would however read something else that Lauren Oliver writes, provided the plot sounds interesting. I’m not going to rush out and look for more from her, but if I see something in the future, I’d look twice at it, as this book was well written. My Rating: 2 stars (out of 5).
  • AManCalledOveCoverA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman: Ove is 59, cantankerous, and determined to commit suicide. He is interrupted by a new family that has moved next door to him, and what happens next I can only describe as a powerful, emotional heartbreak of a book. This is a very moving book about love, grief, and friendship. Pick up this book and read it. I’m just doing a mini review on this one because I don’t want to spoil any of the plot, and tears spring to my eyes now as I type this review. Seriously. It is that moving, that powerful, and that memorable of a book. Please someone turn this into a movie. I can see the movie starting out in black-and-white and slowly color being added in as the movie progresses. It reminded me of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (another fabulous story about love and friendship). I’m looking forward to reading Fredrik Backman’s other books, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here (which releases in the US in May). My Rating: 5 stars (out of 5).
  • IlluminaeCoverIlluminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff: The first book in a planned trilogy, Illuminae is a young adult, science fiction book that will probably be different than anything else you ever read. The story is told by messages, interviews, schematics, notes, you name it. I would not recommend reading this on an e-reader, as I read it in hardback and the format gave me a headache. At points I really wanted to skip the small font and swirly text, so I’m not sure how that would translate to Kindle. Some of the pages are all black with white font, and while interesting at first, it really started to get to my eyes. Illuminae follows 17-year-olds Kady and Ezra, who have just broken up and to make things worse the evil BeiTech Corporation has just blown up their planet. Kady and Ezra end up on different rescue ships, and must battle a zombie-like sickness, a crazy artificial intelligence taking control (AIDAN), and BeiTech coming back to destroy them. Even though the book was 599 pages long, I read it quickly because of the way it was written. It was fascinating in its originality, but I grew tired of constantly having to battle the format. I had trouble following this book because there is almost no description of anything. There are some pictures of the space ships, but I would have liked a few descriptive passages. I also didn’t always understand what was happening. I haven’t read a lot of science fiction, so this may be why I was having trouble following it, but with no description of anything I had no way to tell if terms used were specific to the book or if they were terms that regular science fiction readers would know. But, with that being said, as soon as AIDAN (Artifical Intelligence Defense Analytics Network) starts becoming involved in the narrative, the book really shines and the format really fits. I really enjoyed the scenes with Kady and AIDAN. And Kady was a smart, competent heroine who continues on despite her world literally coming to an end. And no surprises for me in the ending – saw that one coming from a mile away. All in all, I will look for the sequel when it is released, but I won’t be rushing out to get it. My Rating: 3 stars (out of 5).

Have you read any of these books? Do you agree/disagree with me?

Next post: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo


15 thoughts on “Three Reviews: Before I Fall, A Man Called Ove, and Illuminae

  1. Maybe authors like to write about characters living the same day over and over because they can then write a book without a lot of plot development; just tweak the days a bit… I don’t know. 🙂
    Enjoyed A Man Called Ove; it is a book that stays with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe I just didn’t care for repeating the day over and over because I then knew what was going to happen – there were small changes or events I didn’t understand, but all in all nothing really changed ? I dunno … but I’ll definitely think twice before reading a book with that kind of plotline again. Loved, loved Ove !!


    1. Oh, it was so wonderful! We read it for my book club and we all loved it, and continue to talk about it. It was so beautiful. I read Britt-Marie Was Here and really enjoyed that one too. I haven’t tried his other book yet – glad to hear it is good! I will check out your review.


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