Author: Jojo Moyes
Series: Me Before You Series
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books/Viking
Publish Date: January 5th, 2012
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction
Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.
I decided to pick up a copy of Me Before You shortly after the movie trailer began surfacing on Facebook, and I can attest that the 2 minute clip, however captivating and intriguing, does not do the book justice. As in, you do not get the full-fledged fit of uncontrollable sobbing as your heart is shredded into tiny pieces and then trampled by a herd of buffalo from watching the trailer. For me, the hysterics were reserved for the book alone, and they managed to sneak up on me when I was least expecting it. I have one recommendation: buy your tissues in bulk.
I haven’t been one for sappy romance novels, particularly the ones that quickly rise to fame and quickly capture the hearts of the masses. And yes, this is a rather salty jab at The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor & Park, both of which I found disappointing and was overall entirely unmoved. Therefore I was understandably apprehensive when I began seeing countless advertisements and raving reviews of Me Before You. I’m so glad I finally caved and decided to ignore my instincts. Amazingly, Me Before You avoided all of the stereotypes and pitfalls that are generally associated with overhyped love stories.
Most importantly, Me Before You wasn’t cheesy and fluff-filled. Many of the quotes that have been frequently surfacing on Goodreads as well as in the blogging and booktube communities give a very different and unflattering impression of the novel from this respect. When taken out of context and interpreted by someone who has yet to read the book in its entirety, yes, the quotes can come across as sappy and insincere. After reading the novel, however, these same quotes assume an entirely new, often emotionally painful, meaning.
The plot is rather slow initially – the first 125 pages had me far from the edge of my seat. It’s difficult to discern where exactly the story is headed, and there are few shocking, heart-stopping scenes initially. While the novel maintains this unusually slow pacing, Moyes utilizes it to build up to the jaw-dropping, emotionally wrecking conclusion. The stark distinction in pacing between the final chapter and its predecessors fulfills its intended dramatic effect and results in an even more shocking finale.
Moyes was able to address a very serious reality with a necessary, yet respectful, dose of comic relief. This helps to alleviate the oppressive, depressing atmosphere associated with the subject matter that otherwise would have been very prominent. Her smooth, effortless writing style presented multiple challenging and sensitive topics in the best possible light without overlooking the multitude of stereotypes and difficulties associated with each.
Me Before You portrayed an array of unique, lifelike characters who displayed a very wide range of raw, unmasked emotions. It was interesting how different each of their perspectives were on the issues that were raised in the novel, as well as how they went about expressing these opinions. Each character had his or her own eccentricities, personal faults, and very realistic fears, all of which contributed to their comprehensive characterizations, allowing them to gradually win over readers’ hearts.
The romance, while bittersweet, was also undeniably perfect. Lou and Will were by no means always on perfect terms with one another – they fought and disagreed, yet were always able to reconcile and ultimately bring out the best in one another. Furthermore, they weren’t completely obsessed with each other; they recognized that there were other equally important individuals in their respective lives and refused to sacrifice these relationships.
Needless to say, several boxes of tissues are in order if you’re planning to give this novel a try. While the ending is a rather painful ordeal (I’d equate it to that of being stampeded by severely enraged buffalo – reread opening paragraph of review for full effect), it’s simultaneously beautiful. Each character is able to come to peace with the finality of the transpired events in his or her own manner and ultimately accepts, on some level, the decision that concludes the novel, however heart-wrenching. I laughed, I cried, and just about everything in between, and I couldn’t have asked for a book to evoke a more perfect combination of emotions.
|Plot & Premise|