Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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Earlier this year, on “Galentines Day,” I went to see the movie How To Be Single with my friend Elizabeth. It was a classic girls day out- we had brunch then split a bag of extra-butter popcorn at the movie theater. Now you should know that I don’t go to the movies often (one of my exes insisted on going every week, and I’ve been mildly disinterested ever since). I also don’t watch cable TV; and my Internet time is pretty much limited to reading the news, scrolling through my Facebook news feed, and updating this blog. So when I do actually go to a movie theater, I LOVE the previews. Usually the previews are the first time that I’ve ever heard of upcoming movies. So when Elizabeth and I went to see How To Be Single, one of the first previews was for Me Before You.

I have to admit, the preview made it look great. Daenerys Targaryen (aka Emilia Clarke) as the main character, an attractive (in my opinion) male lead, set in England, and an interesting plot- I mentally added it to my Movies I Might Actually Want To See list. When I went home after How To Be Single (which I highly recommend, by the way) I googled Me Before You and learned that it was based on a novel by Jojo Moyes. I added the book to my reading list right then, and I vowed to read it before the movie hit theaters. Since the movie is going to be released at the beginning of June, I included it in my May reading list so that the story would be fresh in my mind when I go see it.

I was really excited to read Me Before You. With the movie coming out, and so much hype around it, I had kind-of-high expectations. It sounded like the perfect romance novel, and I thought I was bound to like it. Unfortunately, however, it wasn’t what I thought it would be. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the book, because I did devour it over the course of 24 hours and I still plan on seeing the movie as well as reading the sequel. I just didn’t really love it. It may be because there was so much hype; maybe I was expecting it to be a lot better than it ever really was. Or maybe it’s because for the most part I dislike mainstream contemporary romance novels. (As mentioned in a previous post, I really don’t enjoy anything by Nicholas Sparks, which is what I consider the standard for modern romance). Me Before You just wasn’t what I wanted it to be, and I wanted to like it so much.

I think one of my “issues” with the novel was that if you have any basic understanding of context clues you pretty much know the major plotlines from just the book summary and the title of the sequel. The details were well written, and for the most part I liked the characters, but it felt like I already knew what would happen, which I found kind of boring. It seemed like the climax wasn’t really a climax at all, just another chapter in the novel.   Before I read this, I think in my head I was expecting it to be a bit like My Sister’s Keeper by Jodie Picoult. My Sister’s Keeper was similar in the sense that you felt like you already knew how it would end, but then it completely throws you for a loop. The plot twist in the book (not the movie, the movie was appalling in the sense that it completely changed the plot) left me reeling, and it was one of the only books that I’ve ever shed a tear over because it was just so unexpected. I think I was waiting for something monumental like that in Me Before You, but it never happened.

One of the good things about the book was the main character, Louisa. I thought she was very likeable, but also very ordinary and normal. One thing that makes me roll my eyes is when female characters are described as ordinary but in actuality they’re super smart, or incredibly beautiful, or experience an unrealistic turn of luck, or basically anything that makes them not ordinary. Characters like that give real-life ordinary girls a bad rep, and it’s not fair. But Louisa Clark wasn’t like that; she was just ordinary, and that’s why I liked her. She never really tried to be anything but herself, and I think throughout the novel you were really able to see her grow as a character. I think Jojo Moyes did a great job in the development of her character.

Long story short, I wasn’t really impressed with Me Before You. I felt it was lacking in a lot of ways, but I’m sure I’m a minority in that camp. However, I’m still interested in reading the sequel; I made the mistake of reading the first chapter that was included in my copy and now I need to know what happens. And I’m still hoping to see the movie, as long as I can secure Elizabeth for another girl date. And even though I didn’t love the book, I know that this genre isn’t one of my favorites which is probably a major reason why I wasn’t thrilled with it. It was a relatively quick read, and it kept me company on a miserable Friday night, so I can’t say that reading it was a bad experience. It just wasn’t my cup of tea, but I’m glad I gave it a try.

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