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Lauren Oliver

Lauren OliverLauren Oliver was previously an editorial assistant at a publishing company in New York. A graduate of the University of Chicago and the MFA Program at New York University, she is now a full-time writer. She divides her time between Brooklyn, New York, and anywhere her friends will let her crash on their sofas. She enjoys reading, writing, cooking, running, dancing, and yes, long walks on the beach (or, more practically, along New York City streets). Learn more at Lauren Oliver’s website.

Click here for more stories by Lauren Oliver.

Before I Fall: Will be one of Kelly’s annual rereads

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

It could have been maudlin. It's not.
It could have been preachy. It's not.
What Before I Fall is, is awesome.

The protagonist, Samantha "Sam" Kingston, will alienate a lot of readers at first. She and her friends Lindsay, Elody, and Ally make up the ruling clique at their high school. Steeped in privilege, fawned over by other students and teachers alike, they torment classmates who are lower on the social ladder. Sam is uneasy about some of the bullying behavior, but goes along with it — in part because she doesn't quite realize how damaging it is, and in part because she was once one of the dorky kids and is terrified that she could slip and become one of them again. Everything changes when Sam and her friends get into a car accident on the way home from a Friday night party. Sam dies.

Then she wakes up in the morning, safe in her own bed. ... Read More

The Spindlers: A plucky heroine and a plucky rat

The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver

I can’t say that Lauren Oliver’s The Spindlers is a particularly memorable middle-grade novel, but its combination of familiar plucky heroine and unusually plucky rat, echoes of The Borrowers, and a few moments of inspired originality made it a consistently enjoyable one.

When Liza’s younger brother Patrick begins acting strangely one morning (one clue is his lack of sticking his tongue out at Liza), she realizes his soul has been taken by the Spindlers, evil spidery creatures that can change size and that have heads at the end of each of their eight legs. Liza had been schooled in the Spindlers and other fantastical creatures by her former babysitter Anna, who unfortunately is off at college. This leaves Liza on her own to travel via a crawlspace in her basement into the “Below,” land of the Spindlers.

But before she can get to the Spindler nests to rescue he... Read More

Rooms: A lovely ghost story about compassion and self-knowledge

Rooms by Lauren Oliver

Rooms by Lauren Oliver is a beautiful, and beautifully-told, story about a house and the generations of people who have inhabited it. As the story opens, the Walker family converges upon the house after the death of Richard Walker, ex-husband to Caroline and father to Minna and Trenton. What the living do not realize — at least at first — is that the house also harbors ghosts: Sandra and Alice, two women who lived in the house at different times in the past.

I was nervous to read this book because I do not like being scared, and I especially do not like ghost stories. But the evocative cover — a red expanse with black tree branches reaching in from all sides — piqued my interest. And Lev Grossman blurbed it, so I felt like I had to give it a shot.

Rooms alternates ... Read More

More fantasy novels by Lauren Oliver

Delirium — (2011-2013) Young adult. Publisher: They say that the cure for Love will make me happy and safe forever. And I’ve always believed them. Until now. Now everything has changed. Now, I’d rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years smothered by a lie.

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsLiesl and Po — (2011) Ages 8 and up. Publisher: Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice — until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone. That same night, an alchemist’s apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable. Will’s mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey. From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous and magnificent novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsPanic — (2014) Publisher: From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes an extraordinary novel of fear, friendship, courage, and hope. Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of twelve thousand people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do. Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought. Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game; he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for. For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most. Already optioned by Universal Pictures in a major deal, this gritty, spellbinding novel captures both the raw energy of fear mixed with excitement as well as the aching need to find a place to belong.