Saturday, 27 July 2013

Review: Me Before You - Jojo Moyes

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

I thought that Me Before You was decidedly not my type of book. I had avoided it during it's huge success last year only to have it thrust at me last week by sister with the words, "You must read this. You have to." I had to? So I did.

The reason that I had studiously avoided Me Before You was that I don't like being so obviously emotionally manipulated, but what I don't like even more is the fact that it worked.

Jojo Moyes' hugely successful novel tells the tale of Will, once a high flyer and now a quadriplegic who has lost his desire to live, and Lou, the upbeat colourful whirlwind that takes over his life. I am hesitant to call Moyes' book a romance per se, I feel much more comfortable categorising it as a love story, not because I think that is in anyway loftier than a romance just that that is not the point of the book. Or at least, I don't think it is the point of the book. Moyes' novel is tale about life, freewill and the choices we make.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who remembers the media flareup around the novel that there is a serious euthanasia debate throughout. I have read some reviews that claim that it is merely a piece of crafty rhetoric wrapped up in a romance, but I don't think that is so.  Moyes' book was a lot better than I had thought, the debates in the novel are well crafted and manage to span a vast array of opinions and arguments both in favour and against. I think that it manages to satisfy readers in both camps, without alienating either.

Moyes' writing is supremely realistic, she manages to portray the mundane and everyday to the point where you can fully imagine the minutiae of Lou's life. I will admit that Lou's character could initially be quite immature and annoying, although with the detail of Moyes' writing you do understand her family frustrations and motivations. Will was both aggravating and superior. Moyes painted the change in his life so clearly that you did feel his plight and understand his decisions. Secondary characters were also well developed and fully supporting additions, instead of the usual throw in 'light relief friend'.

Ultimately I did enjoy the novel, I'll admit that I stayed up regrettably late to finish it, and I am glad that I did eventually get around to reading it. However, I am not sure that I'll be picking up another of the same ilk any time soon, I still don't think I am one for emotionally draining novels. If, like me, you dismissed Me Before You out of hand I would give it a second consideration. However, if the obvious emotional implications of this book aren't for you, then I would give it a miss. I get the feeling that it is almost the literary equivalent of films such as Beaches (my sister's go to tearjerker), obviously intended to tug the heartstrings but ultimately uplifting.

Has anyone else read Me Before You? What did you think of these types of novels? Let me know in the comments.

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