Tuesday, 3 June 2014
'If I Stay' by Gayle Forman: A Book Review
'Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.
I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.
Stay, he says.'
Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?
Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it's the only one that matters.
(Thank you, Goodreads!)
Well, the plot synopsis does seem a little vague, so I'm going to make things clear in this review. But no spoilers, I promise!
If I Stay is the story of a teenage cellist Mia, who's juggling her love for music and her love for her boyfriend Adam side by side. But one day everything changes when, on a long drive, her car crashes - endangering the lives of all four members of her family, including herself.
But even though Mia's body is in a coma, her spirit is conscious, healthy and awake. No one can see, hear or talk to her, though, so you could say she's somewhat like a ghost.
I was reminded of the Reese Witherspoon movie Just Like Heaven, where the heroine is in a coma but her spirit can move around freely. The resemblance stops there, however.
The cover of this book says 'Will appeal to fans of Twilight'. That should have been my first clue....
Yeah, you guessed right. I didn't really like this book.
I know it has a good rating on Goodreads and that everyone marked it as a heartbreaking story that will 'make you cry' but I didn't shed a tear. And I'm very emotional.
I just didn't feel connected to the story or the characters. Firstly, this is a tiny book. The hardcover version is about 200 pages, definitely not enough to make me feel anything substantial for the characters.
Secondly, this book barely has a plot. Mia has to decide whether she wants to live or die. That's it. Nothing else happens in the book. She tells us about her memories, her relationship with Adam, her parents, her grandparents, her best friend.... more than fifty percent of the book is a flashback. I love flashbacks, but if you have to use so many flashbacks to fill up the pages, you're doing something wrong.
Then there's the love story. Adam plays in a band. Mia plays the cello. I didn't see any other reason for them to be together. Why do they love each other? What do they like about each other other than their shared interest in music? It just didn't feel right.
Mia's family is a chorus of angels. Her parents are shown to be the coolest people in the world, her little brother is cute and sweet, her grandparents are open-minded and kind-hearted... do they have any flaws? Are they even real people?
Mia herself is such a boring narrator. I didn't feel a thing for her. I didn't care if she lived or died. I felt like she doesn't care, either! She seems very emotionless throughout the story. I didn't care for her, her family, her best friend or her boyfriend. I was not impressed.
The writing style was generic young-adult fiction. Nothing new or special. For the sake of the review, here are some quotes that stood out a little:
And I bet she'll be a stronger person because of what she's lost today. I have a feeling that once you live through something like this, you become a little bit invincible.
“Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.”
Sleep would be so welcome. A warm blanket of black to erase everything else. Sleep without dreams. I've heard people talk about the sleep of the dead. Is that what death would feel like? The nicest, warmest, heaviest never-ending nap? If that's what it's like, I wouldn't mind. If that's what dying is like, I wouldn't mind that at all.
The ending was abrupt and a little illogical. It wasn't a cliffhanger per se... it was just weird. I actually wondered if my ebook was a fake and had to go online to check if there was more to the ending than that!
There is a sequel (Where She Went) from Adam's perspective... and I think I might read it, but only because I don't like leaving a series unfinished.
I'm going with 2.5 stars out of 5 for If I Stay.
Recommended for fans of Twilight, I guess? A lot of people absolutely loved this book, so you might have to read it for yourself. It just wasn't my kind of story.
I actually saw the trailer for the upcoming movie adaptation and then I read the book. The movie seems to be better than the book. Here, take a look:
Are you a fan of If I Stay, or do you share my opinion? Do you have any books you'd like to recommend? Leave a comment below, then! Bye! :)
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