Book review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This is a NON-SPOILER review of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

I was very hesitant to pick up this book, but a few trusted reviewers enjoyed it and I found it at a library book sale so I figured I would keep it on my shelf and maybe someday read it.  Then someone told me they read it at the start of last year and it was their favorite book of the whole year, so I figured I’d give it a try.

I cannot express how happy I am that I did so.  I laughed, I (ugly) cried.  I feel in love with the characters and felt their highs and lows along with them.  Jojo Moyes has such a beautiful writing style that the book flew by for me, and I found myself not reading at times because I wasn’t ready to let go of the story.  So many times a book falls flat because I just can’t get into the world, but with Me Before You I felt like I was there, everything – from people to scenery to feelings – was so beautifully described that it felt real.

If you are looking for a typical love story – this isn’t it.  In fact, I hesitate to call this a love story for reasons that once you read it, I think you will plainly see as well.  What this is, however, is a beautiful story of two people thrown into situations they never would have imagined themselves in, and within those situations they learn more about themselves and the world around them than they ever thought possible.  Even the supporting characters were believable (even if not always likable).

This book resonated with me, in a way not many books have as of late and for that I am so very thankful.  This is my third book of 2016 and I have a feeling I have found one of my top five of the year.

This review, as well as star rating and other bookish info about me can be found over at Goodreads.

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Book Review- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

thegirlonthetrain

Date Finished: July 25th, 2015
Rating (on a five star scale): 3
**THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**

Let me start of by saying that if you enjoyed Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn you may enjoy this as well.  That said, it is NOT Gone Girl.  The feel is similar, the format of the story is similar but that’s about where the similarities end.

Rachel takes the commuter train every morning and enjoys looking out the window into the neighborhood that she once lived happily in.  She begins somewhat of an obsession with a house near her old one, and it’s inhabitants whom she dubs “Jess” and “Jason”.  One day from the train she witnesses something strange and out of the ordinary and that is only the start of how strange things can get.  She shares her information with police, but she is a less than reliable witness for several reasons.  She is determined to help solve the mystery and becomes entangled in a strange story that feels like a reality worlds away from the one she knows.

I picked up this book because, honestly, it was one I kept seeing all over Goodreads and Facebook.  Everyone was talking about it, mostly good things.  The story starts off shaky, and if it hadn’t been for the good things I had heard from trusted book loving friends I would have likely put it down.  I never became overly attached to any characters.  At most I felt sorry for Rachel, but generally even her attitude even bothered me.  I get it, she is depressed at all she lost and the things she thought she had done… but she was so insufferable through parts of this book that I just wanted to take her and shake her.

I did enjoy reading the story from Rachel, Anna, and Megan’s views.  I enjoyed the timeline set up and how it jumped around a bit, especially in the beginning.  The idea for the story was a good one, especially in the aftermath of Gone Girl, which we all know was a sensation.  However it wasn’t what some touted it to be.  It’s not the “next Gone Girl”, but rather a story with a mystery who-done-it element.  And to be honest… that element wasn’t too hard to figure out.

Again I find myself torn… with all the years of reading I have encountered most every trope, every plot line, and every twist out there.  I often find myself bored to tears with the twists in some of these books because they are so damn predictable to me.  This one pretty much fell into that category for me.  The suspense was enough to keep me reading even though early on I was nearly positive what happened.

The back story with the baby, Libby, was heartbreaking.  I figured something happened with a child in her past, but I wasn’t fully expecting what we got.  Bringing up her ex-boyfriend felt silly because he was a red herring and a not well written one at that.  We had so little information on him I never viewed him as a suspect.  Then he just is suddenly dead for four years and that’s that.  Scott was an obvious choice to blame, but it was too easy to blame him.  Even when he locked Rachel in the upstairs room – I knew he was innocent.  He was pissed off and hurt, but he didn’t kill Megan.  Megan’s doctor… again, too easy.  The comment Rachel made when she saw him the first time that he looked like a killer when he smiled at her – that erased him as a the killer to me in a second BECAUSE of that parallel being drawn.

So that leaves us with Tom and Mac.  Mac had me wondering for a moment… but again when he scared her on their first meeting after the night they were both drunk on the train, he didn’t seem likely and there just wasn’t enough about him.  Then there was Tom… oh, you asshole, Tom.

Early on I had my doubts about him.  Rachel constantly saying that she didn’t remember any of these things that happened when she was drunk.  They didn’t feel right or real to her, despite what her husband said.  Right there was a red flag to me.  I figured early on that the story with the golf club wasn’t what he said it was.  Once it was out that Megan was pregnant at the time of her death, I thought of Tom.  When we found out it wasn’t her husband’s or her doctor’s child -I knew for certain it was Tom.  The conclusion of Tom was pretty easy for me to get to.

The ending was odd and overall lacking.  I get it, Anna knew something was up.  She, in her heart, believed that Tom may well have killed Megan.  But when Rachel shows up at the house the interaction is just so strange.  It didn’t seem to fit.  It could have gone a few ways that would have been more comfortable and fitting – an explosive interaction or even a different play on what happened.  I knew Tom would show up and be pissed…. it all just felt really predictable and dry.

So, Rachel offs Tom with a corkscrew and Anna covers for her.  Lovely.  So many other ways that could have ended that would have been a bit more entertaining and brought a little more closure to the situation.  The ending, honestly, felt rushed to me.  Like, now that the action bits were over the author was just done writing the story and didn’t want to take us even a step further in the journey of the characters that we had spent our time reading about.  We got the bare bones minimum in that department.

I gave this three stars, because the story at least held my attention despite the characters not being very likeable and the twists fairly easy for me to see coming and figure out.  Even though I was certain I knew who had done it I was curious as to how all of Rachel’s fractured memories would come into play, and that was a strong point.

The verdict:  If you like a thriller, read it.  If you enjoyed Gone Girl, read it… but cautiously because it is NOT the same at all.