Review: Me Before You

Posted 13 October, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 6 Comments

Me Before You
By: Jojo Moyes
Format/Source: Mass bound paperback; my purchase

They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

Guys, I finally did it! After years of seeing this book everywhere–reviewed my book bloggers, cropping up on GoodReads and elsewhere on the Internet, seeing the billboards in the subway–I’m finally reading this book. It took the upcoming movie adaptation starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin to prompt me to pick up this book to read 😛 Contains spoilers ahead!

Hmm, where to begin with this review? I suppose I will start by saying I was bracing myself to read this book–I read it time and again how readers cried by the ending, so I was preparing myself for all the feels. And yeah, there were feels but I didn’t shed a tear. I think this was because I was inadvertently spoiled as to what happened at the end, but more on the ending later.

I have to say my favourite part of this book was the characters. While the story felt more or less predictable, it was the characters that kept me turning the page–indeed, on the day I read this, I pretty much just sat there and read the whole thing in a day. Could not put it down for more than 20 minutes or so, I had to find out what happened to Lou next. I really felt for Lou, I get where she’s coming from in a sense that she’s been pretty stuck and not really compelled to aspire towards anything beyond her present situation and her personality makes her a bit of the butt of the jokes. I was however surprised that there was something in her past that informed her present behaviour. Regardless, I found Lou to be quite a bright personality and smiling at the things that she does. I also enjoyed her interactions with her family, the realistic ups and downs in her relationship with her sister, her interactions with Will. From the first moment he was introduced, I didn’t quite understand why Lou was with Patrick, he just seemed to be in a different place in his life at that point compared to Lou, but I suppose the seven years makes it something to weigh in with regards to their relationship.

Going back to her interactions with Will, I love how their time together changed them. Will introduces her to new things–albeit in reluctance at times–and new experiences, looking beyond the small town they live in. Lou brings some happiness and a sense of comfort into Will’s bleak and confined world. Again, I enjoyed their interactions, especially after they overcome their initial discomfort and irritation with each other and become more comfortable around each other, the witty remarks and the general rapport that they build.

I can see where this book can be divisive as it deals with the present topic of assisted dying. It will certainly make an interesting book club discussion on the subject and where your own personal ethics and opinions lie on the matter. But I do feel the subject in this context felt more like a plot device that left me a little uncertain about the book in the end.

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

On a related note, and something that took a while to fester in my head: this book kept being billed as the “21st century love story” but it didn’t feel that way to me.

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

Overall, I’m glad to have finally gotten around to reading Me Before You. Despite of my issues with the book I liked the characters more than anything (though I’m having a hard time imagining Jenna Coleman as Trina; I feel she would’ve made a better Lou?). I feel like the author’s writing doesn’t seem as polished compare to her later books (or is it because Lou is the one narrating? Even then, her “voice” fluctuates every now and then) but nonetheless it was pretty easy to settle into the story.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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6 Responses to “Review: Me Before You”

  1. I loved the movie adaptation. I thought Emilia Clarke was the perfect Lou. I liked Jenna Coleman, but she wouldn’t have made a good Lou. The casting was good the way it is. I’ll be interested in seeing what you think of the movie if you watch it.

    • Glad to hear you enjoyed the movie! I haven’t watched it in its entirety yet; another movie on the long queue that I need to catch up on xD

  2. I’ve seen other criticisms to the same effect–that the book seems to be saying that life with a disability isn’t worth living, and that the ending decision seems to done with selfish motivations rather than out of love for the other–so I didn’t go see the movie. It didn’t seem like a message I wanted to support financially, even if the story raises some interesting questions.

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