Saturday, 13 September 2014

If I Stay By Gayle Forman

If I Stay Series
If I StayWhere She Went
Published: April 6th 2010
Publisher: Turtleback Books
Website: Author’s Website

Mia and her family are driving into town on a snow day when they are involved in a collision. Disembodied, Mia watches paramedics and nurses try to keep her alive. The remains of her life gather—her grandparents, best friend, and boyfriend—to see if she will awaken from her coma. The choice is hers to make, and she remembers her life, thinks about her future, and the ones who have already left.

Cover Blurb
“Will appeal to fans of Stephenie Meyer’s TWILIGHT.” – USA Today. Whoa there, USA Today. Not that I ever took you seriously, but you just lumped together a paranormal romance about vampires with a tragedy novel about a girl in a coma. Unless you’re making the connection that this book is a fad that will come and go (which I agree with), you are totally wrong.

I’ve read that some people expected this book to have more paranormal aspects. Admittedly, I thought it was going to be a little bit more about her as a ghost, and the book is far from that. It’s not a paranormal story about the afterlife; it’s a character driven drama told mostly in flashbacks. I did like how the afterlife isn’t explained, because the book isn’t about it. It’s about her choice. There are no answers about the afterlife given to the reader, and to me, that was great because it would have been too much. The book has more than one concept of “staying”, and I enjoyed thinking about what her decision should be, knowing that it would be a tough one.
This book is not plot driven—it’s character driven, so it is more on the literary side. Some people find it slow, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just different from books like Divergent, where the pacing is faster and has large plot points.

The protagonist has a nearly perfect life that revolves around music. She has a boyfriend, Adam, who I didn’t like or dislike, and he is a rising star in the music scene too. Her parents are old rockers, and even her little brother plays drums.
The story is music-centric, and it mostly plays like a 90s after-school show (this burns away with the reality of the collision). Her free-thinking parents are basically fantasies from every teen. They aren’t perfect, but I’m saying this as an adult. As a teen, I would have been taken aback and wishing that my parents were that cool. As an adult, I know that her parents are actually far from perfect and therefore they are actually realistic.

My only gripe is a commonly mentioned mar on this book: Mia slides a bow across her boyfriend’s body as foreplay. This wouldn’t occur in any serious fashion, ever. It brings the love of music into a weird fetish territory, as the reader is told that Mia sees the cello as a person. I’m certain that Hannibal Lector could walk in and take it from there (and the book would be a million times better, no hyperbole). Whatever floats your boat, but I can’t take that scene seriously.

As an aside, I’m going to discuss the following:

Obligatory One Star Reviews       
1.       Sex in YA gets one star.
It’s fine if you have your own views on morality. It’s fine if you, a reader, want to wait for marriage. But don’t force your opinions on someone else, or on a book. Don’t expect books to follow your moral code because it isn’t your personal codex. The book doesn’t follow your moral code so you have to give it one star in reviews? Grow up.
2.       Only God can make the choice.
A review also can’t tell me, regardless of my own religious views, that only God can make the decision about whether she lives or dies. Giving a one star review because a book doesn’t follow your religious code is also ridiculous. You can see from the back of the book, or the introduction, that this book is about her making the choice. Read the ingredient list before you eat a box of chocolate chip cookies and complain that it has chocolate chips.       
The film is in theaters now. It's one of those movies that I'll wait to see at home. The trailers that I have seen on T.V. didn't showcase the music aspect of the film, which is both a shame to the book and misleading to potential movie-goers. will always be Hit-Girl to me, though it's fantastic that she is getting more roles on big projects. If you haven't seen the trailers, here's one that I liked: 

Final Verdict 
I’m not sure why, but I want to read Where She Went because I want to close the loop, so the book was successful—I care enough that I want to know what happened after. I recommend this to people who are comfortable with a non-linear story. It is a quick read that made me sad without making me cry. It is another over-hyped tragedy novel, but I can’t complain or find much fault in the book itself. This book can generate a discussion at a teen book club about what the readers think she should do, if she should stay and on what levels.