Title: After You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Release Date: June 2016
My Rating: 6/10 Alright
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 Fielding—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…
For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.
It’s taken me a while to gather my thoughts before writing this review. I have to first state that while I really enjoyed Me Before You, it wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read. It was one that made me think a lot; one that I probably won’t forget, but not one that I absolutely loved. I was apprehensive about reading After You. I’d seen the bad reviews, and wasn’t expecting too much from it. I did think however, that as I wouldn’t put myself directly into the ‘Me Before You Fan Club’, I wouldn’t mind this book as much as other people. Other people wanted it to be perfect, and I really wasn’t expecting that. Unfortunately I was wrong. I did end up being disappointed. Not drastically, but I really wanted it to surpass my expectations.
As a standalone book, with no relation to it’s predecessor, it would have been fine. Just fine. Standard chick-lit. As a sequel to Me Before You, this wasn’t enough. Me Before You isn’t just your standard chick-lit, it’s actually much more than that, and that’s what makes it so good. It tackles some very controversial topics in a very sensitive and clever way. There is none of that in After You. If anything, it’s a little boring. Other than the ‘unexpected guest’ part, the story is pretty predictable. Girl grieves, meets boy, rejects boy, realises boy is what she needs.
The wonderful, funny characters of Me Before You are no more. I can understand this in a way as things have changed and people are grieving, but that caused the book to lose its charm. Lou has turned drab and boring, rather than quirky and cute. I found her actions frustrating and struggled to sympathise with her much. The new characters are equally uninteresting. Lily (being the ‘unexpected visitor’), is annoying and rude. I feel like we’re meant to feel sorry for her in a way, but I didn’t warm to her at all. Lou’s new eventual lover is fine, but so unmemorable I’ve already forgotten his name.
Overall, I found the whole thing unnecessary. I’m really not sure what I was expecting, but this wasn’t it. All I wanted was to see how Lou was getting on, see her overcome her grief and move on with her life. The addition of Lily ruined it. It spun both stories out of what I thought they were and if anything, I’m a little annoyed at Jojo Moyes for doing that. Why mess with a good thing?
I wouldn’t say this was a particularly bad read. I got through it fine, and some moments were quite nice. Overall though, it was too much, or maybe not enough. I would personally recommend preserving everything that’s great about Me Before You by not bothering with this book, and maybe read something else by Jojo Moyes instead.