Friday, March 15, 2013

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes

Me Before You book cover
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books/Viking
Publication Date: December 31, 2013
Source/Format: Netgalley (Thanks Penguin!) || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

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 honestly didn't know what to expect from Me Before You before I dove into my copy on a random Saturday afternoon. I went in pretty blind, only having read reviews from Rachel, Hannah and Cass and knowing that all three of them had enjoyed this one a lot. Me Before You proved to be an addicting read, one that I only set down to eat, sleep and go to work. I really ended up enjoying the book, although it left me surprisingly thoughtful when I finished.

This is a novel by a British author, and so much of the language, setting and nuances are British. As a bit of an Anglophile, I properly enjoyed this and lapped it all up as I read. While the novel translates well no matter where in the world you're from, I do like noting the British details included in the novel. They transported me to an entirely different place as I read, and I always appreciate a novel being able to do that and do it well.

Alongside the British influence, the characters practically popped off the page as I read. I remember thinking that I could have been friends with Lou or that I'd known people with an attitude like Will's as I read, and I loved that the book brought these two to life so very perfectly. It easily swayed me into being concerned with how their stories - together and apart - would turn out.

Lou is certainly quite a character. Even though she begins the novel as a bit timid, regimented and entirely too used to and content with her comfort zone, I liked her right away. I sensed that beneath all that was an indomitable spirit, one filled with vivacity and color and energy and positivity. She's definitely a character I could see myself being friends with in real life, mostly because we share a positive outlook. It was fun to see how she was coaxed out of where she was comfortable, and forced to embrace all these new things - that's always a good experience (if slightly hard and painful) for anyone to go through.

Will, on the other hand, was a character that I didn't immediately like. He's a bit obnoxious and surly, but that's probably reasonable considering that his accident left him paralyzed for life. That's definitely a big change for someone who once used to be active and adventurous, and it takes a toll on his emotional well-being. Underneath his contempt for his body and his anger at the unfairness of his situation, Will has a good heart though, and it shines again and again in this novel... especially when it comes to Lou.

Will and Lou make such an interesting, and unlikely pair, one that circumstance brought together. Reading their banter and watching their relationship grow and change was so enjoyable. It flowed so well, and was so believable to me. I loved that there were moments both good and bad showcased in the story, because that helped me see all the dimensions of their relationship.

The thing about this book is that you need to go into it not knowing most of the details, and I don't want to spoil that for you in my review. All I will say is that I finished the book not only emotional, but also full of new thoughts. I had an immediate reaction to the dilemma that surfaces in the novel, but I was challenged in my thinking at many turns and finished feeling slightly perturbed. There are many things to consider in the light of the situation, and yet... my gut still tells me that my reaction is still my opinion.

Me Before You was certainly an enjoyable, gripping novel that had me from nearly the very first page. The book had me feeling all sorts of things, with glee, anger and sorrow being chief among all others. It was interesting to me that the book managed to challenge my own perspective on that mysterious something I refer to, and I appreciated that the author managed to make me think. Once I had turned the last page however, I closed the book with a smile on my face, knowing that I had enjoyed my journey along with Lou & Will.

21 comments:

  1. Lou and Will were so vivid to me and I especially liked Lou right away. Will is definitely difficult at first.. but I loved what Lou brought out in him. Actually what they ended up bringing out in each other. And I agree, this book definitely made me think in a way I wasn't expecting to. It brought to light different perspectives and it's important to go into this book not knowing any of that stuff. Sigh, I feel like reading this again. Maybe if I'm in the mood to cry haha. Great review!!!

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    1. I went through an entire emotional spectrum with this book, even though I totally wasn't expecting to be so invested. I really fell hard for Lou & Will, and found their relationship and interactions very amusing and heartwarming! SO glad I listened to you!

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  2. I'll admit... this doesn't sound like my cup of tea, based on the summary. But after reading your review... maaaaaybe I should reconsider? Sometimes I really like reading heavier, deeper, lovely books and this may be one that fits that bill!

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    1. Honestly, this is more women's fiction/chick lit. It's just that there's this one big issue that is faced in the novel - and it sort of makes things a bit more serious. I really liked it though, so I do think you should give it a try!

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  3. I haven't heard a lot about this book but I do love to read British books. I particularly like a book that have unlikely -- but in the end, believable -- couples and vivid characters. I think I'm going to have to pick this one up soon. Great review!!

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    1. I love reading British books too! Even if the context is different for me as a US citizen with Asian roots, I do think it's fun to venture over the pond every now and then. This one is done so well, though that ending KILLS me.

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  4. This is the first I've heard of this book, but you had me hooked at British influence. I'm in. I kind of love books that you don't really know anything about because some books you get the reading experience in not knowing what to expect. It doesn't seem to happen too often any more, so I'm pretty excited about this.

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    1. Even if I'd heard about it, I actually went in pretty blind - and that's why it blew me away. I think you'll like this one, but I warn you that you may feel extra melancholy when you finally shut the book.

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  5. So glad you enjoyed it dear! These two weigh heavy in my heart.

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    1. Agreed. I just can't think of Lou & Will without feeling both fond of them and sad at the same time.

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  6. This sounds like a really interesting and probably a very tough novel to read, not dealing with light subjects, but by the sound of it, it's also surprisingly light, which seems like a good mix. I love stories where you just know you would be really good friends with one or more of the characters, no matter what role they play, and reading them years later and remembering that feeling is incredible!
    Excellent review!

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    1. It's actually a pretty compelling combination of darker issues with a lighter atmosphere. I do love that it was so well-done that I was completely immersed in the story and taken in by it.

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  7. This one sounds so good! I've never heard of it before, but from your review, and the other reviews you mentioned, this sounds like something I would love. The characters and story sound really fascinating and I want to learn more. Great review :)

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    1. Glad that you found it interesting! I think it's a very different book, but one that's well-written and compelling. Hope you get a chance to read it!

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  8. i'm quite curious about this book even though i know it's not all sunshine and rainbows. i'm glad you liked it overall! it sounds like the characters are certainly unique.

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    1. It is definitely not all sunshine and rainbows, but I think that's part of what makes this book so compelling for me. Lou & Will are really awesome characters!

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  9. I love reading reviews of this book, because I loved it and so, it seems, did everyone else. I was so emotionally wrung out when I finished it, and it took me a few days to fully digest it all. Amazing book. So glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. When I finished reading it, I texted Rachel to tell her I was feeling all emotional. I didn't know how to explain it, but this book totally moved me.

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  10. I, too, heard so many rave reviews about this book -- and while I enjoyed it in parts at the start, I can honestly say I have NEVER EVER EVER been so upset with a book in my life. My father-in-law was a quadriplegic before he lost his battle with a terminal disease a few months ago. Without spoiling this book for anyone, you can imagine how furious I was about how the end was portrayed. Anyway, I can see why people without a personal connection to the issues would respond differently. But it was a fascinating reminder to me how people with unique life experiences can react to very differently to books. Okay rambling xoxo bye.

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    1. I can totally understand where you're coming from when you mention the ending. If my own personal experience was similar, I would probably have felt the same way. Interesting how stuff like that changes each of our reactions to a book, isn't it? I'm sorry you had to experience that though, considering your own personal history :(

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  11. This is one that I am rather excited about. I have read nothing but praise for it and I can’t wait to see what I think. I think you make a great point about just how hard doing simple things is for someone in a wheelchair, and how frustrating it can be for that person. Excellent review today. I smell a shopping trip coming up!

    Irene (Paydirt)

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Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)

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