Me Before You, Jojo Moyes

So I imagine I’m quite late in reading this book which has been an immensely popular read over the summer – might have something to do with the film adaptation being released?

Well, I might as well start this review with a bang and share what is possibly an unpopular opinion and say this book lacked the emotional punch that many other readers have promised…

No need to call me a cold-hearted though, right?

Me Before You tells the story of Louisa ‘Lou’ Clark, who happily lives at home with no ambitions to leave or disrupt her arguably idyllic life she has become accustomed to. This little bubble of hers is unexpectedly burst as she is thrown into being a carer for Will Traynor, a young quadriplegic, once a wealthy, daredevil who is left resentful after a motor accident left him dependent on others 24/7. These two characters are forced into each other’s company, regardless of whether they are worlds apart in terms of personality.

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The relationship between Lou and Will is perfected by Moyes, and is the heart of the book. From their silence stares, to sarcastic and witty competitions and finally to their blossoming romance, this pair is bound to make you laugh, as they develop from tolerating one another to becoming almost lovers, well more like best friends with increased sexual tension and the odd bit of flirting. Even though I understand this book is primarily about Lou’s development into a completely new woman, I felt like the addition of a chapter from Will’s perspective would have been an interesting narrative to add, all we get is Lou’s assumptions about what he is thinking and feeling, which withholds the reader forming a more rounded view of Will, as I felt this was just as much his story as Lou’s.

The reason I say this is because Moyes has gone to the effort to provide us with chapters from various other characters in the story from Will’s parents Camilla and Steven, to Lou’s sister Treena. I felt that the addition of the Traynor’s perspective was unnecessary and did not add much to the overall story, as Camilla’s was essentially quite boring as she fitted the stereotypical portrayal of a mother at a loss with her hardened and rude son (– would provide more reasoning to my opinion but that would unfortunately ruin the plot to those who have not yet read the book.)

Treena’s was the most refreshing and an example of when the disruption of perspective worked, although it does not appear until the last third of the novel, it made me realise that I wanted to learn more about Treena’s life (I know she is only a secondary character but she was interesting!) and I loved seeing Lou from someone else’s perspective who actually knows her, and I believe adding Will’s perspective would have been an improvement on the narrative structure and overall story. – I mean were you not yearning to read what Will originally thought of Lou when he first saw her?!

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The ending of the book was as my sister quite rightly pointed out rushed. Throughout the novel Moyes has built suspense towards the ending through Lou’s anticipation and anxiety, but all this building fell short of the ending itself. Moyes had built her novel with only two possible endings and once the reader knew which one was going to be told the suspense diminished quickly into an anti-climax. I cannot say a lot more about the ending without spoiling the entirety of the novel, but I do believe that watching the film adaptation first might not have been the best way of approaching the story.

Moyes’ writing style is simple, descriptive, and she has true talent when constructing witty conversations or one-liners, a few I might add did make me laugh out loud. With this, the book is an easy read, and can be read anywhere – commuting to work, on holiday sunbathing or one to snuggle up to one a wet afternoon with a mug of tea – the latter option becoming a frequent happening due to the British weather just ignoring that it is in fact summer. It is Moyes’ writing style and compassionate characters that will encourage me to pick up another one of her novel’s, and see what other mundane life experiences she can turn into romantic adventures.

Me Before You is available to buy at all major book retailers alongside the sequel novel, After You. The film version is expected to be released on DVD on October 10th 2016.

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