Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You (Me Before You #1) by Jojo Moyes
Published in 2012/2013 by Pamela Dorman Books/Viking/Mladinska knjiga.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: borrowed from my mom.

Genre: contemporary love story/drama.

My rating:

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. 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.

srcek

I’ve been hearing about Me Before You for a couple of years now. It pops up on blogs, my mom has been offering her copy to me, my editor said it was a good read, and even my grandma has read it – but it took a movie trailer featuring Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke to finally get me to read it. I didn’t even watch the whole trailer beforehand because (as some of you will know by now, lol) I am a passionate hater of spoilers. I mean, I knew what the basic story of the novel was about before I started it but I didn’t know any of the plot twists.

And I liked this a lot! So don’t watch the trailer if you want to go in blind. I just watched the whole of it and I’m a bit worried about Emilia Clarke’s performance (I only ever saw her as Khaleesi) but I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt. Anyway, I’m dragging my husband to the movies this week because we haven’t been in ages and we have the time. I’ll report on it later.

And now, the book. I really liked Lou and Will. I mean, they both had their issues (obviously) but they felt real in a way that you don’t often come across. I read lots of romance and this isn’t your run-of-the-mill romance novel, it’s a love story, sure, but it deals with topics much more serious than you’d expect. What surprised me the most (in a wholly positive way) was the manner of dealing with these hard topics: no moralizing, no overboard sentimentality, no didacticism, which are all pitfalls I expected with such a book. So I completely understand why this book went off and sold in millions across the globe.

I read it in Slovenian translation (by Radojka Manfreda Modic), even though I don’t read English books in translation as a rule. But my mom had this one at home so it seemed wasteful to buy an English copy as well. It’s a good translation, I liked it a lot, even though there are always problems (like when Will calls Lou “Clark” all the time, this doesn’t sound as natural in Slovenian, we rarely call women by their last names for some reason). But a translation is never perfect, so I was willing to let small things like this go when it became apparent that the story itself shone through without a hitch.

I did rate it with 4 stars/hearts instead of 5, though, because I felt like some of the issues dealt with in the book were a bit too simplistic (I can hear you groan: “But Kaja, you always complain about stuff! Why can’t you just love a book for once?!” And I say to you: “Balance, my dears, balance in all things.”). If you’ve read it, I’m talking about the reason Lou doesn’t want to go into the castle labyrinth – I felt like it was done too superficially, especially considering how in-depth other problems were. While this gave Lou a certain aspect of vulnerability and a reason to avoid living, I wasn’t a fan of how quickly Will managed to “fix” her. This whole “I will now educate you and make you bloom” premise was something of a thorn in my side, to tell you the truth, so yeah, I wish it was more subtle. But it didn’t bother me enough to ruin the whole experience for me.

I really enjoyed Me Before You and I definitely recommend it to anyone who wishes to read a heartfelt, beautiful story. I don’t think I’ll be reading the second part, After You, however, because this one feels like such a well-rounded story. And the reviews for the sequel are very mediocre compared to the ones for Me Before You, so I think I’ll give one of her other books a try instead.

srcek

Have you read Me Before You? What did you think?

Do you have any similar recommendations for me?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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  • For commenters who don’t know the story yet: BEWARE OF SPOILERS in my comment. No explicit spoilers, but stuff can definitely be deduced.

    I haven’t read the book, but I did see the film last week (I know, blasphemy), and I have to be honest: it left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth… Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin were amazing, I loved their performances, so in that sense it was a good film. But being aware of the criticism the story has received concerning ablism, I did pay attention to that, and I thought it was rather tasteless how quadriplegia is depicted as the end of the world. While I am pro-choice and understand that for Will it *was* the end of the world, the fact that it was romanticised didn’t sit well with me, and the same goes for comments such as “I don’t want to be that guy who just settles for this life” or something like that, suggesting it is weak to keep on living with quadriplegia. I think the films sends out a horrible message, to be honest… I have no idea what that was like in the book, though.

    I loved Lou, but I didn’t really like the way Will talked to her – again, I don’t know what the book was like, but he spoke to her mostly in commands (but meant in a “loving” way, which was weird).

    I don’t think I’m going to read the book, although I *am* curious now as to the differences between book and film, so I’d love to hear from you when you’ve seen it. :) Also, sorry for the long, ranty comment :’)

    • SPOILERS AHOY!

      I saw the movie yesterday.

      I’m really glad that you pointed this out. It was one of the glaring differences between the book and the film! It was the first thing I said to my husband when the film ended – I thought that Will’s situation was very inadequately portrayed here. He looked like a spoiled, gorgeous ass who just *loved* the playboy life he used to have and now it was over, sob sob. I’m also pro-choice but this was very extreme for my tastes.

      But in the book, there’s much more to it, honestly. I missed Lou’s internal debates about this issue, there’s news about two other cases where people go to die and the media shitstorm that came along with them. And also Will’s situation was much, much worse than this. He was in CONSTANT pain, like suffering horribly, every other week, there was some new complication that nearly ended up in his being killed, and his family really suffered because of it (the constant worries). I did wish he’d give his life more of a chance but it was definitely more logical for him to have made that decision in the book. In the film, all this was glossed over, and while he did go to the hospital once, he mostly seemed well. In the book, it’s just not like that. Every outing exhausted him, every movement pained him. So yeah.

      But as I mentioned in the review, I didn’t like the “I will now fix you” attitude Will had towards Lou – I didn’t like that she had to change herself to be good enough for him (even if she wasn’t good enough, in the end).

      And I love long, ranty comments, especially when I can then rant along! :)

  • It wasn’t until I saw the trailer for this one that I was intrigued enough to look more into it. I’m not sure I’d love it as much as everyone else, but it might be worth going to the library for. The end of the novel was actually spoiled for me (curse you, tumblr!), but I might give it a shot anyways. Enjoyed your review, Kaja!

    • I’d recommend reading it if you can get it from the library, it’s a good read. It also switched up my regular reading a bit, it’s quite unlike most of the romance novels I read. And I was sort of spoiled for the ending, too – a friend told me I’d cry, which is hardly indicative of a happy ending. :D

  • MissBookiverse

    My experience with this book was somewhat similar. I was positively surprised by the lack of cheesy romance. I found it really refreshing that their relationship was more of a friendship and I think it’s weird that it’s marketed as such a big romance. I haven’t picked up the sequel for the same reasons. It angers me that there actually has to be a sequel. The book worked just fine on its own.

    • Yep, this is what’s so great about the book – they are friends, first and foremost! I mean, it IS a love story but mostly it’s a story of transformation, I think.

      And I agree, it’s so stupid that a sequel was written – I guess it’s about the money? I mean, some people might want to read about what Lou’s life was like but this ending was enough for me.

      • MissBookiverse

        Probably, I wish the publishing world paid a bit more attention to content and less to money. Sometimes I hate this greedy world we live in.
        Of course most readers would be interested in what Lou’s life was like AFTER but I think once you start reading about the after you realize that didn’t REALLY want to know, or at least not like that :P

        Aww, that’s so sweet of you. Don’t worry about it. We’ll just interact through your blog, goodreads and Instagram :)

        • Yeah, I agree. It’s better to make up some vague story about Lou’s (or any character’s) future after such events than to have it spelled out for you. Also, the synopsis didn’t really strike me as interesting.

          And okay, I’m counting on that. :)

    • Oh and by the way, I’d love to comment back on your blog, I usually do, but I don’t speak German. :(