Book Review: Me Before You

the book

Me-Before-You-book-cover-Jan-12-p122Original Title: Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
First published: 2012
Pages: 369
Language: English
Format: e-book
My rating: 3/5


Synopsis:

“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.”

the author

Jojo_Small_Portrait_Crop-212x300“Jojo Moyes was born in 1969 and grew up in London. After a varied career including stints as a minicab controller, typer of braille statements for blind people for NatWest, and brochure writer for Club 18-30, she did a degree at Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, London University. In 1992, she won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to attend the postgraduate newspaper journalism course at City University.

Jojo worked as a journalist for ten years, including a year at South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, and nine at The Independent where she worked variously as News Reporter, Assistant News Editor and Arts and Media Correspondent.

Jojo has been a full time novelist since 2002, when her first book, Sheltering Rain was published. Since then she has written a further eleven novels, all of which have been widely critically acclaimed.”  // www.jojomoyes.com

the review

Everyone and their mother has read this book. Everyone and their mother has loved this book. I guess I’m an exception.

Don’t get me wrong, I did like this book, the 3 stars prove it. However, I expected to adore it, to love it as much as everyone else, I expected to cry for hours upon finishing it. That did not happen.
And while I understand why so many people loved Me Before You, I guess I expected more from it. The pure fact that it got such massive amounts of positive reviews made me believe it was something exceptional, something exquisitely written, something I’ve never read before. But it wasn’t. For me, it was just an average read full of average characters and with a non-satisfying ending.

But let’s start at the beginning. Me Before You seemed rather promising at the very beginning. With Lou having been let go from her job of many years and having to start anew, the story had so many options and possibilities. It felt like something new and exciting is awaiting Lou Clark just around the corner. You would think she would pursue her dream, maybe she would finally leave her hometown and do something she’s never done before.

Nope. That doesn’t happen. Because Lou has no dreams. She stays in her hometown and starts working as a caretaker for a quadriplegic man, even though she’s got zero skills in this area. Ugh.

oh god

The flat characters.
Oh, how I disliked Lou! The girl was such a bore! I do understand that she is very much a relatable character for many people, but at the same time, she didn’t have any depth to her. That I found unrealistic. A 26-year-old with absolutely no ambitions in a world full of options and pretty much no restrictions, felt completely unreal. A woman with no dreams, no vision and no hobbies that is willing to stay in an unhealthy and loveless relationship and you make her the main protagonist of your novel? It felt like I was reading a story set a few hundred years ago, and not in the 21st century. This is why I completely understood Will’s annoyance and his frustration with Lou’s lack of life in her. But it wasn’t just Lou, I found most of the characters rather flat, nothing complex or interesting about them – I just wasn’t invested in them at all.

Emma meh

The different POVs.
Throughout the novel, you are mostly reading from Lou’s perspective. But towards the end there are a few chapters that are told from the perspective of a few other characters. I found that completely unnecessary. First, I wasn’t even able to differentiate between the points of view. There was absolutely nothing unique about the few different people’s perspectives – no difference in the writing style, no difference in their thoughts. I found myself checking several times within one chapter whose perspective I was reading. And second, these different POVs did not explain or add to the story whatsoever.

The Evil Sentence.
„I let out a breath I did not realize I was holding“ and its variations – that is the Evil Sentence.
I made a list of books that feature this infamous sentence. And yes, Me Before You is also on this list, among many others. However, what I found surprising and quite funny, was the fact that it wasn’t our main protagonist Lou who has been holding her breath without knowing it – no, it was the man who was taking care of Will, Nathan.

The story.
The beginning – starts OK, reads nicely, no major issues there.
From about halfway to the end – predictable (partly because of everyone’s reactions and the spoilery title itself), repetitive and a little annoying, with only a few good moments here and there.
I did not hate the book like it might sound. I thought it had great potential and had it been written just slightly differently, it might have been a 5-star read for me as well.
But in comparison to some other great romances, I would describe Me Before You as a pretty average and predictable (love?) story that is relying completely on the emotional rollercoaster it puts you on. If you’re not on board, whether it be due to the flat characters, the slow pace, the predictability, the writing, etc., you’re just gonna stand there with a bored expression on your face and wait for everyone else to stop hyperventilating and crying their eyes out.

my rating

3 stars black

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