Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Where She Went by Gayle Form8492825an
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Published by: Dutton Juvenile
Pages: 264
Format: Paperback
If I Stay (#1)
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

Where She Went by Gayle Forman, is the sequel to If I Staya book I really enjoyed. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy Where She Went, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of Adam in the first book so to have a book from his perspective didn’t improve my rating. Originally I hadn’t planned on reading the sequel, because I enjoyed the ambiguities of If I Stay’s ending. Now, I wouldn’t say I was disappointed with the ending, but I didn’t think I needed a sequel to come to the same conclusions that I’d already…concluded.

Adam spends the majority of the book moaning about how much Mia hurt him – this book takes place about three years after the ending of the first book – by going to Julliard and living her dream. I was absolutely appalled by the time it took for Adam to recognize that he had told her he would let her go if she stayed. Because Adam was in an unhappy place in his life it didn’t make for very fun reading. The novel definitely picked up with the introduction of Mia, but even then it wasn’t until the very end that I felt what I’d read actually meant something to the characters.

Forman still effortlessly went back and forth in the timeline, and I enjoy how easy her writing is to read. There wasn’t as much music in Where She Went, but I didn’t feel like this made it any less identifiable as Adam and Mia’s story. In fact the lack of music references just showed how much these characters changed. One thing that I felt was lacking was a resolute message that change can sometimes be good. Also, I wasn’t particularly fond of how attached Adam was to Mia – a good relationship should be supportive, but not dependent, which is what Adam was.

I think regret is a strong word to describe how I feel about reading this book, because I don’t think it necessarily added or subtracted from how much I liked If I Stay. I will say that if you’re undecided on whether or not to pick up Where She Went, just think about where you would like Mia and Adam’s relationship progresses and assume you are correct. Overall, I gave Where She Went two stars, because I couldn’t connect with Adam’s PoV as much as I did Mia’s and it would be unfair to rate it the same as If I Stay.

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Sta4374400y by Gayle Forman
Genre: Contemporary
Published by: Speak
Pages: 201
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★
Where She Went (#2) 
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

I really need to take a break from reading sad books, because the number of books I have cried at has significantly increased in the past month. When you’re doing a lot of coursework and essay writing for school, short books are your friend, ergo I read If I Stay. I nabbed this book off of Sarah the last time I went to her house, and she said that she ‘enjoyed’ it. I can’t quite remember whether the word – if you could count it as such – ‘meh’ but that’s probably the noise I would use to describe If I Stay.

I enjoyed it, but it was also just a bit ‘well yeah, okay.’ It could have been shorter, because I felt the middle was slightly repetitive, but the emotions were well written and I did enjoy it. Any book that can make me cry I have to have enjoyed at some point, otherwise there would be no juxtaposition.

Mia was a likeable character, I guess you could say I felt like I knew her, however I’m not a very musical person which, although it didn’t detract from the story, I wasn’t always aware of the significance of the references. Thank you Gayle Forman for the ‘Behind the Music’ explanation-y bits at the back. I can say, that if you do enjoy music, or are a skilled musician yourself, then you will probably find it a lot easier to connect to Mia and the other characters. That isn’t to say that I couldn’t connect with the characters, because I really liked the parents. It thought they were wacky and fun, and their death – not a spoiler – was hard hitting, and really made me understand why the whole ‘if I stay’ argument was such a debated one.

Adam is the love interest, and I thought he was okay. I didn’t fall in love with him like I did Étienne St. Clair or Dimitri Belikov of Jace Wayland (my favourites in reverse order) but he seemed like a nice enough guy, and I thoroughly enjoyed his attempts to get into the ICU. Kim was the best friend and I enjoyed her character, and hers and Mia’s backstory, it was believable and fun. My favourite character? Gramps. Hands down it was the grandad, because almost everything he said to the comatose Mia made me cry. He was so sweet, and so understanding, and it was nice to see some grandparents in YA. They’re not often there, so it was very refreshing.

One thing that slightly annoyed me about If I Stay was the structure. The significant information that isn’t relative to Mia’s medical condition is told entirely through flashbacks and backstories. I’m not the biggest fan of this format, unless it’s written by Morgan Matson. Gayle Forman handled it well, but by biggest problem was that I didn’t like them equally. I was happy when we were in the present, and I was happy when we were in the past. What I didn’t like was the chopping and changing, which led to ‘I don’t want to be in a seven-years-ago flashback! What’s happening to Mia’s brother now!’ or something along those lines. I felt like we were ripped away from present Mia, just so she could tell us an anecdote that I considered to be less important to her current situation. I already liked Adam, Kim and her family because of their reactions to Mia’s being in hospital, and in the beginning I liked the novelty of being through into the life of a family of which I had no context.

Overall, I gave If I Stay three out of five stars, because I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it.