So after watching the trailer, I decided to read this…
(Which is not advisable because then of course the characters I pictured in my head were the actors, aka Daenerys Targaryen and Finnick. Oh well.)
So this novel has gotten a lot of hype. I initially avoided it for the same reason I initially avoided The Fault in Our Stars–because the premise sounded too depressing. From Goodreads:
Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.
But I was wrong not to immediately read TFIOS, so predictably I was wrong about this as well.
The prologue, which covers Will’s accident, didn’t totally thrill me. But the first chapter, told in Louisa’s wonderful voice, did:
There are 158 footsteps between the bus stop and home, but it can stretch to 180 if you aren’t in a hurry, like maybe if you’re wearing platform shoes. I turned the corner onto our street (68 steps), and could just see the house–a four-bedroom semi in a row of other three- and four-bedroom semis. Dad’s car was outside, which meant he had not yet left for work.
Behind me, the sun was setting behind Stortfold Castle, its dark shadow sliding down the hill like melting wax to overtake me. On a different sort of day, I could have told you all the things that had happened to me on this route: where Dad taught me to ride a bike without stabilizers; where Mrs. Doherty with the lopsided wig used to make us Welsh cakes; the hedge where Treena knocked a wasp’s next and we ran screaming all the way back to the castle.
So I fell in love with this disarming voice, and was hooked.
Things I loved about this book:
1. The aforementioned voice. And just Louisa’s character as a whole. I saw in reviews people complaining that she was “childish,” but I really liked that about her. Some people simply don’t have their lives figured out at twenty-six (or older) and I think that’s perfectly realistic. I like my protagonists with a good amount of self-doubt and uncertainty and Louisa had that in spades.
2. The setting I am a sucker for old castles. Honestly I wish they had spent more time there.
3. The Englishness I am also a sucker for English accents and read the whole book inside my head in one.
4. Slow-burn relationships I like that it took them a long time to get used to each other and start to feel things. Slow-burn relationships are the best kind.
5. The family I am also a sucker for large disorganized families, so Louisa’s made me feel perfectly at home.
Things I did not love about this book:
1. The Traynors’ privilege I couldn’t help but wonder the whole time what Will’s life would have been like if his family hadn’t been wealthy. How the story would have gone if he wasn’t handsome. Not that I’m an expert but I’m not sure Will’s life is an accurate depiction of the life of an average quadriplegic.
2. Lou’s backstory I felt like the *thing* that happened to her wasn’t particularly necessary, felt more like a plot device to explain why she was still living at home (and come to think of it, wouldn’t she want to get away from home after that happened?) You can be messed up and unfocused for no good reason at all. It doesn’t have to be some cataclysmic event. Perhaps I will write that story someday: someone messed up for no good reason at all.
3. The alternative POV chapters It felt really jarring and off when we suddenly got a chapter from Will’s mom’s point of view, or Nathan’s. Not sure those were necessary.
4. The ending I somehow thought it would end differently. Silly me! I’m not going to get on any moral high horses or anything because I don’t have one to get on, but I wanted a different ending.
This was still a beautiful book and I think you should all read it, if you haven’t. I will probably see the movie and read the second book (has anyone read it? how is it?) 8/10 stars for me!
Image found here