Genres: Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Michael Joseph (UK)
Publication Date: January 5th 2012
3 OUT OF 5 STARS
“You can only actually help someone who wants to be helped.”
Lou Clark’s life is simple. She has worked in the same cafe for ages and has been dating her boyfriend Patrick for seven years. She’s twenty-seven and still lives at home but she doesn’t let that bother her. When the cafe closes down Lou is forced to examine her life. She takes a new job with a disabled man; Will Traynor. Neither realises just how much their lives are about to change.
The problem with popular books is that they can never actually live up to the hype. Me Before You is no exception and it failed to deliver the emotional destruction I was hoping to experience but it wasn’t bad.
Moyes has a light writing style that made this book and easy and fun read. The characters felt a little simple, which is perhaps why I felt as though it lacked the depth to make me sob. However, I did love Lou. A lot of people in their twenties are uncertain about their life path and that makes Lou incredibly relatable. Will was charming at times and it’s easy to fall in love with a handsome one-dimensional character but it’s hard to care much about what might happen to him.
The plot was a bit of a cliche, but some elements kept it from being entirely derivative. Will’s condition and his plans are the driving force of the novel. I will acknowledge that there have been people calling this novel “ableist”, I have heard arguments for and against this point but I don’t feel I have the right to comment on whether or not it is. Just something to be aware of when going in. I personally felt that Moyes was delicate with her subject matter and seemed to put a lot of research into developing the plot.
Overall, it just didn’t feel spectacular. There are good things: Moyes allows several secondary characters to have a point of view chapter so readers can better understand them, there’s good comedy, but they just don’t make it as remarkable as it’s been said to be. The romance is weak at best and has very little payoff. The characters are flat and waffle between personalities and worldviews. The ending has less weight than it might have had if written differently.
So what are we left with? A par for the course romance with a standard illness twist. It’s a fun, light read; and that explains why it’s so popular. Jojo Moyes is an excellent writer and her skill shows. It’s certainly not a bad book, but it just doesn’t stand out from the pack for me.