22 January, 2012 | By: Rhee

Before I Die

Before I Die

Title: Before I Die
Author: Jenny Downham
Pages: 326
Published: 2007

Summary: Tessa has just months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, drugs with excruciating side-effects, Tessa compiles a list. It’s her To Do Before I Die list. And number one is Sex. Released from the constraints of ‘normal’ life, Tessa tastes new experiences to make her feel alive while her failing body struggles to keep up. Tessa’s feelings, her relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, and her new boyfriend, all are painfully crystallised in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time finally runs out.

Review: When I started reading Before I Die, I was sitting in a book store, waiting for my mum to get out of an appointment and I realised that while I was reading it, I couldn't put it down. It had nothing to do with the writing or how captivating it was, but the mere fact that I wanted to see how it all ended for Tessa. I knew by the description and the category that it didn't have a positive ending, but I still wanted to know exactly what happened to end this book.

Upon finishing it, though, I have to admit that I am disappointed with having spent money on this book. The writing was poor, as was the characterisation. I expected for something to happen, anything, that would possibly make the book become a little better, but by the end of it all, even though it did upset me a little bit to read the ending, I found myself having a 'That was it?' moment with the novel once I had hit the last page. To me, the story didn't seem complete. The way that the author ended the book, while it did put the novel to rest, didn't quite hit the emotional factor that the reviews I had read about it insinuated.

Also, I was really rather disappointed with all of the characters other than Adam. The best thing about a novel is to see how a character grows and changes through the events that have happened to them, and I honestly feel like that didn't happen with anyone other than Adam. Tessa, while she accepted the fact that she was dying, seemed to say her whiny, inconsiderate self, and her best friend, Zoey, only seemed to get worse by the end of it. True, she did come to say goodbye to Tessa in the end, but she'd initially started with promising her dying best friend that she would be there to help her with her list and then managed to blow her off time and time again and then try and make Tessa feel bad for what she was doing to her.

Overall, the book was emotional and it was an adequate read, but it really wasn't something that I thought could grasp a captive audience. I had to stop reading this book multiple times because I just couldn't get into the emotions and writing that the author was trying to convey. It was a good book, but it wasn't anything spectacular.

Rating: ★★★ 3/5 Stars

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