Before I Die by Jenny Downham

I may have read this book a while ago but I am just taking the time prove that not everyone thinks this book thinks it is fantastic. I am in the minority of people who think this book is poor.

I found the main character extremely self-absorbed and boring, all she sought from life was a boyfriend and a little bit of sex. I found her incredibly hard to sympathize with because she was so selfish, she wanted her boyfriend to move in by the end of the book and was quite ruthless in the way she made it happen. She takes drugs, she doesn’t really care about the effect it will have on her family. You expect some self-pitying, hey, if I were terminally ill I would feel pretty sorry for myself. But I also would feel sorry for my family who I left behind and I don’t think she really regarded their feelings. The fact she wanted a boyfriend really says it all as he was left behind.

I just feel like so much more could have been done with this book. Ok so Before I Die could have done anything. I mean anything. It is fiction so have the main character travel to the moon and see piranhas in the Amazon or SOMETHING! Instead she wants a boyfriend to just stay in her wardrobe where is the logic in that?! She also wants to take some illegal substance just to see if that’ll kill her first. Ok, so maybe that’s not the motive! I just don’t think it depicted teenagers well. If a teenage gets told they are terminally ill they aren’t going to come up with her list. Teenagers are ambitious and want adventure, they would have thought of a much better list, ok, so sex may have been on some people’s but it wouldn’t have been their main goal in life. You know when the author just wants a sex scene, this was a book like that. It’s a shame because I did really want to enjoy it but unfortunately I didn’t. At all.

While I was writing this, I typed in “Before I die” into google images and the things that people want to do are probably more inspiring than what Tessa wanted to do. I would also like to point out that although a lot of them were to do with love, none mentioned having sex. They were things such as:

  • Change someone’s life,
  • Go to a masquerade,
  • Stop being afraid and start living,
  • Learn how to surf,
  • Confess to loving someone,
  • Send a message in a bottle,
  • Travel the world,
  • Try food from every part of the world,
  • Ride an elephant in India.

And just to make the whole experience more fun for me and others who didn’t enjoy this book…it has been made into a film! This year it is being released under a different name: Now is Good. A pretty bad name, if you ask me! Dakota Fanning plays Tessa in the film. I’m sorry but I doubt I will be watching it.

Overall I wanted to enjoy this, I really did, but I just didn’t. I think the author could have just done so much more with the way that it was written and maybe thought up a better storyline!



  1. Cassie · April 7, 2012

    Now I want to read this book – sounds fascinating.

    • Hayley · April 7, 2012

      I know lots of people who have read and really enjoyed it, so maybe you’ll like it more than I did! Thank you for the comment 🙂

      • Cassie · April 7, 2012

        I will definitely add it to my to-reads list 🙂

      • Hayley · April 7, 2012

        Glad to have recommended it to you 🙂 Hope you enjoy it! 🙂

  2. Pingback: You Against Me by Jenny Downham « Sunsets and Fireworks
  3. Pingback: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes « Sunsets and Fireworks

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