I first read Lauren Oliver’s debut novel, Before I Fall, as an ARC (advance reader’s copy) way back in 2009. I enjoyed it and was pretty sure I had Lauren figured out as an author. She’d definitely stick with the YA age group, writing realistic teen fiction with an emotional twist. I looked forward to more.
And then she released her first middle grade novel and completely twisted my conception of her on its head! Surprise! She’s an author/shape shifter who just gets more and more compelling with each new release.
Born: Queens, NY
Genre: YA realism & dystopia, middle grade fantasy
Before I Fall; HarperCollins; 9.99; Ages 12+; pub. Mar. 2010
Opening line: “They say that just before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that’s not how it happened for me.”
If I had a nickel for every time someone compared this book to the movie Groundhog Day, I’d have many, many nickels. It’s really more akin to a marriage between Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why and the darker moments of Mean Girls. Oliver weaves a beautiful story of redemption that is bittersweet and satisfying without conceding to a traditional “happy” ending.
Liesl & Po; HarperCollins; 6.99; Ages 9+; pub. Oct. 2011
Opening line: “On the third night after the day her father died, Liesl saw the ghost.”
I was teary by the time I finished the forward of Oliver’s middle grade debut. Written shortly after the unexpected death of a dear friend, Liesl & Po exudes a deep connection between author and material. It feels like a treasured fairy tale and makes a terrific read-aloud. My favorite of her books so far.
The Spindlers; HarperCollins; 16.99; Ages 9+; pub. Oct. 2012
Opening line: “One night when Liza went to bed, Patrick was her chubby, stubby, candy-grubbing and pancake-loving younger brother, who irritated and amused her both, and the next morning, when she woke up, he was not.”
Initially inspired by Maurice Sendak’s creepy and arresting Outside Over There, Spindlers is the story of an intrepid sister who sets off on a grand adventure to save her brother. Liza descends into the hidden world beneath her parents’ basement (I’m reminded of Gaiman’s Neverwhere) to win back Patrick’s soul, which has been spirited away by spindlers, hideous spider-like creatures. It’s a quick read, and one I tore through in one sitting—I didn’t want to let it out of my clutches until I reached the (very satisfying) ending!
Delirium trilogy; HarperCollins; Ages 12+; pub. Aug. 2011
Opening line: “It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure.”
Lauren Oliver does dystopia! Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem comprise Oliver’s imagining of a world where love is a crime. This series is well written, thoughtful, and far less “explodey” than teen dystopia tends to be, for which I give it lots of credit.
Come browse our shelves and flip through some of Lauren’s books! You’ll be under her spell in no time.
Read on, readers!