December 3, 2015

Time to Move On

After You by Jojo Moyes

Release Date: September 29, 2015
Publisher: Penguin; Pamela Dorman Books
Pages: 352 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
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Summary (from Goodreads)
Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started. 

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . . 

Thoughts on After You
When After You was announced, I was nervous. As sad as I was when I finished Me Before You, I didn't want the story to continue. I liked being able to imagine my own future for Lou - the uncertainty of things in her life didn't leave me wanting more. It actually made me feel hopeful for her! But, at the same time, I knew I'd pick up After You when it was released. I was too curious about where Moyes would go next, and I believed that she wouldn't write the book unless she had a story that needed to be told.

Unfortunately, I don't feel that way anymore. I know that everyone won't agree with me, but I honestly do not think this book should have been written. Having read a number of books from Jojo Moyes at this point, I was surprised this was something she'd written. Her books never fail to surprise me, to make me emotionally invested, to sparkle with creativity and warmth. Despite the heavy subject matter, Me Before You never seemed like a depressing read. After You, on the other hand, just made me so sad. I kept asking myself why it had been published - and why I was continuing to read it. The plot was contrived, the writing was dull, the characters were frustrating and the book was just boring. I never imagined describing a Moyes book that way!

I went into the book with no expectations for the story. I wasn't looking for something from Lou or anticipating a certain future for her. So, I can't even blame the hype or my expectations for the disappointment I felt! Everything in this story seemed so cliché. There were elements that served no purpose (Lou's mom), a romance with absolutely no chemistry, moments of drama that seemed better suited to a soap opera (a ridiculous accident and a shooting) and, worst of all, a "surprise from the past" that was incredibly contrived. It's a "shocking twist" that's been done a million times before - and in better and more creative ways. And it didn't even feel like it was Lou's story! It was dominated by Will's past and storylines more focused on secondary characters than on Lou. Plus, the book was slow and tedious. It was a chore to get through!

Sadly, I cannot recommend After You. I don't want to spoil anything, which is why I'm not going into more detail about my specific issues with the plot. Needless to say, however, this doesn't compare to Me Before You and certainly doesn't capture the magic of Lou or of Jojo Moyes' writing! 

So Quotable
"You don't have to let that one thing be the thing that defines you."

8 comments:

  1. I still haven't read this but having heard a lot of mixed reviews, I am wary of it...Me Before You was SO good and there is definitely no way that this one can live up to it!! I haven't read any of her other books yet either though.

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  2. I finished this last week and was so disappointed too. The plot twists were just awful, and I totally agree that a lot of the story felt like it was lifted out of a soap opera. I'm hoping that I can put the sequel far out of my mind if I reread Me Before You again.

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  3. THANK YOU!! You just expressed all my feelings about this book. I recommend Me Before You to a lot of people, but I really want to put a disclaimer on reading After You. It just felt very typical romance novel with the plot twists and very unlike the compelling writing of Jojo Moyes. I agree with Melissa, hopefully, a reread of Me Before you can put the sequel out of my mind.

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  4. I liked this a little bit better than you did, or at least I didn't dislike it as much. BUT I agree with everything you said about it seeming contrived and soap opera like as well as depressing and sad. :(

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  5. We're probably going to have to discuss this as soon as I've finished reading it! I'm a little worried because all of my friends who have read it so far have had a mix of reactions ranging from positive to negative. We shall see where I lie on that spectrum! I'm sorry it wound up not being a read you enjoyed though :(

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  6. I'm actually reading the book right now and I agree with you. I often read a book and think I would love for the story to continue when it ends, but now I see why this is a bad idea.

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  7. This is exactly why I have been hesitant to read this one. Like you, I was sad but satisfied with the ending of Me Before You. I had my own vision of how Lou carried on and I was okay with it. I didn't think a follow-up was needed. But I admit I was intrigued. I'm thinking maybe now I should just skip it and stick with Lou's future that I envision in my mind. Sorry this one was a disappointment, Hannah.

    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

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  8. I liked this book, but I could have done without the cheesy romance. It seemed to cheapen the story.

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