Me Before You and After You – My Spoilery Thoughts


I have a strong aversion to reading books about terminally ill people/ people struggling with ill-health / quadriplegics and tend to stay far away from them. I guess they all seem a bit too close to life, and after facing such issues with people close to me, I can tell you that real-life is far more complex and painful compared to what’s in the books. So why would I intentionally choose to sniffle over a sick person in a book when a sick person in my life needs the attention. Right?

So, when After You by Jojo Moyes landed on my doorstep (a review copy), I dreaded going through its prequel Me Before You (famously about a quadriplegic who wants to die). But when there are so many book bloggers going gaga over this book I felt I should just get over my prejudices and give it a try.

And here are my thoughts on both books, which I read back to back last week.

Me Before You

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.

~Synopsis from goodreads

I guess this book worked for me because of the main character of Louisa (Lou) Clark, and her family. I just loved how natural and fun and quirky they all were. Jojo Moyes has a knack of building characters with just a few words so well that you feel like you know even the minor characters of the book so well.

That said, I disliked Will, and however much I enjoyed reading about Will and Lou, I just couldn’t personally get over Will’s actions and decisions throughout the book. All the while he was lecturing Lou on how to live well, he was taking just the opposite decision! Towards the end though, my heart started to melt for them both, and I started to think maybe if dying was what he wanted to do, then maybe it is not such a bad thing.

But still, I just got the chills thinking about that place Dignitas, and I just couldn’t get over the ending, and how sad it all was.

So, in a way, I guess this book was great at simply making me feel so strongly about the fate of a character that I just didn’t take to at the beginning of the book. And yes, I sobbed pathetically at the ending even though I could see it coming from a mile away.

Yes, I can safely say that I loved this book πŸ™‚ .

You can also purchase a copy of this book from Amazon

After You

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fieldingβ€”the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future.

~Synopsis from goodreads

I actually liked the concept of this book a lot. Much better, truth be told than Me Before You. Unlike other reviewers, I felt this was a book that needed to be written. It specifically made me rethink my opinion of Will. Seeing how much Lou and his mom were grieving, I couldn’t help thinking that choosing to die like that was such a dickhead move.

I loved several aspects of the story, and overall I just loved the plot. But, and this is a big but, there were several flaws in the execution, and here I”ll list where I think the story went from being memorable to just about good.

  • The characterization of Lily – This is a new character in the book, and one of the major plot movers. Unfortunately, it takes the better part of the book for the reader to even understand the character (and I am not talking liking Lily, I am talking merely understanding what she was about).

    By the time all layers were uncovered, I found I didn’t actually give a damn about Lily.

  • Saggy middle – The middle was a bit too slow. Lou’s crappy job and boss, her accident, so many things in the book were just so unnecessary, and could have been cut off without any problems.
  • Everybody likes Lou – This was super-annoying. No one is universally loved, and everybody’s reactions just made Lou who is actually a great character into a stereotype. Especially, especially considering how judgmental she is about other people, without actually thinking they might have their reasons for their actions.

What I did love about this book was Lou’s new love interest. I thought he was simply so great, and the chemistry between them was smoking. Also, overall, he just seemed a better fit for Lou than Will (in my opinion). While I loved Will and Lou’s romance, in Me Before You, I just couldn’t get over the fact that:

  1. He chose not to be with her at the end of Me Before You.
  2. My conviction that if Will wasn’t a quadriplegic, he wouldn’t have looked twice at Lou, and there would have been no romance.
  3. I just thought Will and Lou were just such total opposites that it wouldn’t have worked out in the long run.

So, the romance between Sam and Lou totally rocked my boat. Also, just like in Me Before You, the secondary characters were really strong. I loved all the people in the letting go support group, Lou’s family is as usual tops, and in general, it’s such a positive story overall.

Highly recommend it for fans of Me Before You, it really is the perfect closure.

Thoughts on the Right to die Issue

In Me Before You, the concept of choosing to die is given a lot of thought and discussion. And I found myself swaying back and forth in my opinions. One minute, I was like yes, it’s a choice to live, and another time, like no, it’s just morally wrong.

At the end of both books, I am still conflicted, although I think I swing towards the latter opinion (wrong). But my stance is admittedly quite wobbly. What is your opinion on mercy killing/right to die?

Finally, huge thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me this book for review consideration.

You can also purchase a copy of this book from Amazon

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  • I think I tend to lean towards thinking that people have the right to die. Just because my own religious beliefs might dictate not to do that, I don’t think I have the right to tell other people they have to abide by that too. And I have been on the front lines of long-term caretaking, and it takes over people’s entire lives — I can imagine feeling very strongly that I wouldn’t want to be that kind of burden on my family.

    I’m glad you liked After You! I have it in my library bag, but haven’t been sure whether I wanted to read it. One Plus One remains my favorite Jojo Moyes book to date — it makes me happy and tearful every time I read it. Road trip books!

    • Nishita

      @readingtheend:disqus when you put it like that, I agree. But when faced with the details of it (like in Me Before You), I don’t know. I felt so terribly for Will’s mom. Especially in the sequel, she seems to be in such pain.

  • A great review of both of these books Nish – I’m glad you liked the second book more – I really enjoyed Me Before You and have held off reading the next book as I was worried it would be a let down – I get that you didn’t universally enjoy it but, I think I will pick it up at some point now. Thank you.

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