Saturday, 15 December 2012

Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

A critically acclaimed novel that will change the way you look at life, love, and family.

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, Mia's story will stay with you for a long, long time.
I am always wary of reading books that are surrounded by a lot of hype because I almost always end up disappointed.  I was told that I would love this book, that it would break my heart and make me cry.  I built it up to be something extraordinary, and in the end ruined it for myself because I didn’t love it, and it didn’t break my heart, and I didn’t cry. This book was good, very good but it was not extraordinary.  I almost feel cheated out of an experience, maybe if I hadn’t heard the hype I would have fallen head over heels for this book like everyone else.

I did like this book I thought parts of it were amazing but I thought some were not.  It is a beautifully written book that studied life and death with care and consideration.  I loved that there was no un-needed drama.  I half expected Mia to find out her boyfriend was cheating on her or something, because YA has a habit of going overboard with the dramatics, but this book did not.

I liked the characters everyone was well built and likeable.  I thought the romantic elements were pretty good as well.  I loved the ending; I thought it was a perfect ending for this book.  (I read the synopsis for the second book and wish I hadn’t because I had a perfect vision for where I wanted this story to go after the end and the next book is not it.)

So where did it go wrong?

I think my main issue with this book is that it is very slow.  It meanders along and is more about thoughts than action.  I would have preferred it to be a little faster paced.  There were times that I struggled to engage and times where I was bored.  Also Mia’s life was a little to pristine and perfect.  Her parents were a little too cool, her best friend a little too awesome and understanding and her boyfriend just a little too amazing.  I wanted a little more depth to her relationship I guess, and for her to have a few more faults. 
If you are reading this review and you haven’t read the book please do not be put off.  Just because it didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.   I know this book touched many people and I wish it had done the same for me, but it didn’t so this book remains good and not amazing.

3 stars

Published April 2nd 2009 by Dutton Juvenile.  A free copy was provided for review. Image courtesy of Goodreads

Review by Kate Phillips


  1. Ahh, yes. It is slow. I remember thinking that when I was reading it. That was an issue for me too. The good news was, the sequel was a lot better. LOVED the sequel. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts. :)

    ~Sara @ Forever 17 Books

  2. I know so many people loved this book but I was not one of them either. I remember ending it feeling very conflicted and uncertain of even how to rate it (I think I ended up going with a 3 or 3.5). It just didn't click with me.

  3. I recently reviewed this one as well, and I agree with you--it was good, but not GREAT the way so many other reviews put it. I expected to be bowled over, but wasn't. Even so, I'm interested enough to try the sequel I think.


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