Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Title: Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance

Goodreads rating: 4.36 out of 5.00 (38, 970+ ratings)
Goodreads | The Book Depository |

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.

What 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.

Review by Chantelle

Shockingly ambitious, daring, tear-jerking, gut-wrenching, life-inspiring writing.
I had no idea what I was in for when I picked up this book.

What made me read this book: cute cover, adult contemporary romance genre, 38, 970+ ratings on goodreads and the average is still 4.36 out of 5.00. That's a lot of people telling me this was a 5 star read! So yeah, thought this was going to be alright...

And now? Oh god. Worst. Book hangover. EVER. *sobs* (going to punch/kiss all 38, 000 of you goodreaders). I'm having legitimate difficulties with a) not thinking about this book, and b) picking up another book to read. The trouble is, I can't reread this novel either. It was such an intense and emotional read that I don't think I could do it again any time soon. Don't get me wrong, it was incredible, surprising, it made me laugh, it made me sob uncontrollably, but that's the thing, it was SO MUCH, I FELT ALL THE THINGS. It chewed me up, and spat me out an exhausted mess.

So I'm going to introduce you to a novel that I think, while not being a favourite (because I can't reread this over and over a million times), is a Panacea Candidate (everyone should read this).

Me Before You is a compelling read that through the most unconventional of romances, was a devastatingly honest and genuine exploration of love and life. There are so many aspects of this book that the blurb doesn't touch on, and I love that. I don't think I would've read it had someone spoiled what this book is largely about, so I won't tell you lovely people either, but the bottom line is, is that it worked. Jojo Moyes is insanely talented, and managed to write a truly thought-stimulating, controversial novel. For those of you that have read this book, I don't agree with the ending, but I understand it. I don't forgive Ms Moyes for the ending either, but I think that's because even days later, I still tear up when I reread some bits.

Will Traynor has it made. He's got the girl, the job, the wealth, the lifestyle... but then the accident happened, and he lost everything.

Louisa Clark is a small town girl, who genuinely loves working full-time at the local The Buttered Bun tea shop; she loves the comfort of it, she loves talking to all the customers, it doesn't matter that she's 26 with no future prospects. That is, until The Buttered Bun closes down and she needs to find a new job. Cue this funny scene at the Job Centre between her and the advisor, Syed, who is running out of jobs for her after she completely failed as a fast food worker, and was scarred for life after a night at the chicken processing factory:

'Um... Have you ever considered joining the entertainment industry?'
'What, as in pantomime dame?'
'Actually, no. But there is an opening for a pole dancer. Several, in fact.'
I raised an eyebrow. 'Please tell me you are kidding.'
... 'You said you were good with people... How about "adult chat line supervisor?'
I stared at him... 'No. And no to semi-nude bar staff. Or masseuse. Or webcam operator. Come on, Syed.'

Louisa is a really great character. Her POV is extremely well written, it was effortless to root for her, or to follow her train of thought. Her character was so convincing and real. She's talkative, bubbly and just all around a joy to read. So when she starts working for Will, who can only be described as snarky and sarcastic, it was hilarious! There's this part where she's trying to tell Will about her childhood, about why she dresses quite eccentrically:

"My favourite outfit was those glitter boots and my bumblebee tights."
"Bumblebee tights?"
"Black and yellow stripes."
"That's a bit harsh."
"Well, it's true. They sound revolting."

When Lou and Will's lives collide, it sets them both on paths that will change them, and change their outlooks on life, about what it means to truly live it.

'I had a hundred and seventeen days in which to convince Will Traynor that he had a reason to live.'

Hopefully that line alone can peak your interest enough to read this book, it's incredible.

I need to discuss some spoilers, PLEASE CLICK ONLY IF YOU'VE READ THIS BOOK

Oh god!!! Euthanasia??!?!?! I wouldn't have touched a book with this taboo with a 20 foot pole if I had known about it beforehand. To be fair, it is hinted at in the blurb, but silly me didn't pick up on that cue. When it was revealed that he was a C5/6 quadriplegic, my heart dropped. I knew what that meant. Paralysed from the chest down. He can barely move, he can't cater to the most basic of his needs - eating, showering, dressing, defecating... It stunned me that Moyes was brave enough to tackle this, and still keep the humour, and the romance, and the optimism prevalent throughout. I was so glad that she didn't shy away from the brutal truths of being a quadriplegic, it was obvious she did her homework, and the level of empathy she expressed through her work pushed boundaries, certainly with her argument about the prevailing importance about the quality of life.

Let's talk about the ending. WILL!!! omgosh Will :'( WHHHHYYYYYY
After she finally works up the courage to kiss him, having broken up with Marathon Man (douche), and pours her heart out, and when he gives in, and then pulls back saying no.... and she rages at him:

'Fuck you, Will Traynor. Fuck you. I wish I'd never taken this stupid job. I wish I'd never met you.'

Everything from then on... I literally couldn't read because the tears would not stop.

There is nothing more disconcerting to passers by than to see a man in a wheelchair pleading with a woman who is meant to be looking after him. It's apparently not really the done thing to be angry with your disabled charge.
Especially when he is plainly unable to move, and is saying, gently, 'Clark. Please. Just come over here. Please.'

ooohhhh my goodness. The ache in my chest when I simply quote that! The way he pleads with her to understand his impossible situation. And her reaction was so spot on to mine.

I couldn't look at him... I refused to have anything to do with him. I was furious and miserable.

'I tell you I love you and I want to build a future with you, and you ask me to come and watch you kill yourself?'... 'I tore my heart out in front of you. And all you can say is, "No, you're not enough for me."'

I was so close to not reviewing this novel simply because it was so hard to revisit this ending. It tested my values, my perceptions, my maturity, everything.

I say maturity because if I was Louisa, I probably wouldn't have spoken to Will ever again after they got back from Mauritius, telling myself that if I didn't say goodbye, he wouldn't be able to go through with his choice. Good thing I'm not Louisa, right?

Man, when Lou and Will are saying their goodbyes on (literally) his deathbed. I couldn't. I was completely gone to the land of tears. Damn stubborn men! Not letting Lou persuade him. But I guess I understand, his life wasn't a life. It's just that afterwards, I felt a severe, almost physical bereavement from Will's passing. Went through all 5 stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Wait, scratch that. I am definitely still in the depression stage :( On that note:

'These are the things that Will liked.

1. Watching films, especially foreign ones with subtitles. He could occasionally be persuaded into an action thriller, even an epic romance, but drew the line at romantic comedies. If I dared to rent one, he would spend the entire 120 minutes letting out little pffts of derision, or pointing out the great clich├ęs in the plot, until it was no fun for me at all.

2. Listening to classical music. He knew an awful lot about it. He also liked some modern stuff, but said jazz was mostly pretentious guff. When he saw the contents of my MP3 player one afternoon, he laughed so hard he nearly dislodged one of his tubes.'

I have such a love/hate relationship with this book. I love/hate the way it made me feel so intensely. I love/hate how perfect Lou and Will are for each other. I love/hate how driven, and determined, and stubborn Will is. I love/hate how ambitious Moyes concept for this book was. I love/hate how so many of you might not read this despite this review. But most of all, I love/hate how if you give this book a go, you will most likely love/hate it too.

Panacea Candidate

Overall: 10/10
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 4/5


  1. I had a HUGE book hangover after this one. I didn't put it back on the shelf for days because I just kept wanting to HUG it ALL THE TIME.

    This is only the second book I've ever cried about - and the only one that reduced me to a sobbing mess.

    Great review, I could see how much you loved it too!

    1. hahahaha that is such a great reaction! so true though, I kept having my kindle nearby to reread certain bits. Each time makes my eyes prinkle haha

  2. I haven't read this one, but your review makes me want to buy this now! I love this title and apparently, the book itself is even better. Great review! <3

    1. Thanks Celine! I hope you do get around to reading it, I'd love to hear what you thought. It hits you like a bulldozer when you make sense of the title in the context of the book.

  3. Yey, you liked it too :) I didn't have any idea how good the book was going to be either! <3

    1. I know right! Makes it hard to convince friends to read it though since the blurb doesn't give much away.

  4. This sounds fantastic. I don't think I'd really heard of this one before, though I have come across the title at some point. I think I'd have all sorts of feelings reading this too, but those are some of my favorite books.

    1. Definitely! I think if a book is able to give you genuine feels, it's instantly a 4 or 5 star. I hope you end up reading it! I think it's in the finals of the fiction category in the Goodreads awards :) (nudge nudge) haha

  5. FREAKING HELL I REALLY WANT TO READ THE SPOILER SECTION! (dw I won't, since #nospoilers haha)
    Gah, I feel like reading this now D:

  6. I LOVED THIS ONE!!! It was a great read for me and it seemed so real that I really enjoyed it. I'm glad you liked it too. :)

    1. It was so realistic I agree! So much so that it was quite confronting, and was a thoughtful exploration to both sides of the debate on euthanasia.

  7. Thanks for the nudge. I have read some great reviews for this but had nearly forgotten about it until now. Great review.
    -Dilettantish Reader

    1. YAY! I'm glad I could get it back on your radar, I hope you get around to reading it :)

  8. Aww, this sounds beautiful, and also (maybe?) very sad... Beautiful review!! :)

    1. Definitely sad haha but also, definitely beautiful! Thanks Cayce :)

  9. This book sounds beautiful. I don't read a lot of adult contemporaries so I've never stumbled across this book before, but after your review, I really want to give it a try. But I'm fearful of what it'll do to my emotions! :P

    1. hahaha totally understandable! Maybe save it for a rainy night ;) Emotionally tolling but definitely worth it