Book Review: “If I Stay” and “Where She Went”

I read both of these books in about 7 days, which is actually quite a feat for me considering how much I work. They were pretty good, but they were definitely written for the “Young Adult” genre. The writing seemed a bit “dumbed” down and it seemed like the author was using weird slang words to link herself to the younger generation, but it just wasn’t necessary. Both books are written in the first person narrative, but the first book focused on “Mia,” who was in a coma from about page 20 to the very last sentence, so there was much more thought dialogue than speech dialogue, which I liked. Some books get so conversation heavy that I’m just get turned off by it – they end up reading like a play instead of like a book. The second book focused on “Adam” and was much more dialogue heavy and some of the dialogue seemed unnecessary, but it was still well-written.

If I Stay

If I Stay focuses on “Mia,” a 17-year-old girl in a coma after a tragic car accident that killed both of her parents and her little brother, Teddy. Mia is somehow disconnected from her body, but is able to see and hear everyone around her. Throughout most of the novel, she oscillates between wanting to stay because of her best friend, boyfriend, and grandparents and wanting to go to be with her family. I really liked the premise of the book and will admit that I’ve thought of writing a novel based on a similar, but slightly different, concept. Forman appears to have a good grasp of the characters and what it would be like to be a 17-year-old in Mia’s situation. I also really liked the flashback aspects of the novel where you learn more about Mia and her family and how her and Adam fell in love. I felt like the “love” between Adam and Mia was exaggerated a bit though. There was something missing to make it an actual “love,” but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I loved the writing style and found myself crying along with Mia at the tough parts. I loved the character of “Gramps” and I thought he reminded me a lot of my Grandpa Bob and my Dad. It was so hard to think about how Mia’s life would be if she chose to stay. For me, living without my parents and my siblings would have been even worse than death and, if given the choice to stay, I don’t think I would have. Mia is a strong, courageous character and Forman takes great pride in being her “mother.”

One thing that bothered me was the number of spelling and grammatical errors. There were about 10 places where extra words were just randomly inserted and several others where words were missing. There was also about a dozen comma splices and it drove me crazy. People get paid more than me to read books and catch these things and yet they were missed so many times. I would suggest that Forman gets some new editors because the mistakes made me think that the book was just for teenagers who don’t care about spelling and grammatical errors and that is going to severely limit her market.

Long Story Short: 4/5 stars.

Where She Went

I REALLY liked the ending of this one. The beginning was a bit lacking, but only because I think it was too long after the first one. I know that it was easier for Forman to write it once Mia is done school and Adam is a huge rock star, but it just seemed like there were too many questions that didn’t get answered. The actual ending was really good though. I wanted them to get back together so bad and when it seemed like they weren’t, I was so disappointed. I thought the book was just going to end with both of them accepting that they’re over and getting their own sense of closure, but I didn’t want it to end that way. I thought that there was so much build-up that they HAD to get back together. I will admit to crying at the end because I was SO glad that Mia still loved Adam because it really seemed like she didn’t earlier in the book. One thing bothered me though – How could you not talk to someone that you love for THREE years? I just don’t understand that part of it.

I will admit that I liked “If I Stay” better than this one because I liked the lack of conversation in the first book. It was all written in the first person and didn’t really include that many conversations, but the second book wasn’t that different.

I did not like all of the stereotypes that Forman used for musicians though. It seemed like she did some research, but wasn’t really willing to try to learn an instrument or even play around with one so that she could know how it really feels to play music. To me, playing music is the same no matter what instrument you play and music has the power to make you feel things that nothing else does and Forman just didn’t seem to grasp that. She described it as “life changing,” but there seemed like something was constantly missing from her descriptions.

Long story short: 4/5 stars. Will I read the next book if there’s a book 3? Yes. Will I run out to buy it in hard cover the day it’s released? No.

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