Alright before we dive into specifics, here's the covers, synopses, and Goodreads links about each book plus a little about the author, Gayle Forman.
Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.
I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.
Stay, he says.
Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?
Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it's the only one that matters.
If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.
It's been three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life.
And three years he's spent wondering why.
When their paths cross again in New York City, Adam and Mia are brought back together for one life-changing night.
Adam finally has the opportunity to ask Mia the questions that have been haunting him. But will a few hours in this magical city be enough to lay their past to rest, for good - or can you really have a second chance at first love?
Gayle Forman is an award-winning, internationally bestselling author and journalist. She is the author of Just One Day and Just One Year, and the companion e-novella Just One Night, as well as the New York Times bestsellers If I Stay and Where She Went. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and daughters.
Find Gayle Forman
Alright now that we've got the books and author intro out of the way. Let me show you guys the trailer for If I Stay which comes out August 22, 2014! In my thoughts I'll cover both books AND the trailer.
I won't lie to you guys, I was a little nervous going into this review because I know this series has HUGE acclaim right now and that I can be a little over critical of things that are "in". I have tried to take that into consideration in writing this review. Let me start at the bottom and work my way forward. It'll make sense, just stick with me. I actually only read this series after I saw the movie trailer!
Okay. My reaction upon seeing the trailer is "woah, I don't like cheesy love stories, but this looks amazing". That cast looks great, the music picked for the trailer looks like it fits the situation spot on. I definitely want to see this film. Oh wait. It's based off the bestselling Gayle Forman book? I should probably see what the hype is about!
If I Stay
Wait... are you guy sure this is the same book that awesome trailer was based on? No. I'm not being funny. Not at all. In fact there is nothing funny about If I Stay. No, you're right, it isn't a comedy, but uh... could it have been any more depressing?
Okay. I will just start out by saying I was not a huge fan of If I Stay. This was my first foray into Mrs. Forman's work and I almost couldn't finish it. I have been told that maybe it's because I am a guy, but I really just did not care for this story as much as many people undoubtedly have. I read the whole thing in one sitting, it was a very easy read and I really liked that about it, but even for a YA novel it just seems so... "young". Okay, before you start seething from my thoughts, let me get some of the positive aspects of the book out of the way.
I love the storyline. I'll be as spoiler free as possible here. I thought the story of Mia being the sole survivor in a horrible accident would make for a story with a great plot and full of emotion. On that front, Forman definitely does not disappoint. The book is sad to nearly the point of tears, but I almost wonder why it needed to be so damned depressing? I felt all the feels that I was supposed to, but in the end, I just didn't see why. Mia's family was great and I loved how Forman told us their story in the form of flashback as often as possible. It was a nice touch. I'll come back to the flashbacks in just a bit.
Okay here's a few of my bigger negative thoughts about If I Stay. First off, those flashbacks were ridiculously crazy. They were in no order and they seriously come out of nowhere. At times I didn't know if I was reading the present or a flashback so it made the story really hard to follow at times. Most of them added to the plot, but some... not so much. My thinking here is that this was a 200 page novel. I was much more worried about Mia in the present than all these back stories that didn't mean anything in the end.
Second problem. The trailer makes Adam out to be one of the biggest characters of the movie, which is great, except oh yeah wait... He isn't hardly in the book. Sure Mia has a boyfriend, yes he is there, and yes it is very heartbreaking, but at no point in this book did I think Adam was as big of a character as he should have been. He was her boyfriends for God's sake. he should have been WAY more of a primary character than her now dead family. Maybe it was just me, again, but him being all there and stuff for her (even canceling the defining show of his career, which I totally understand) and Mia just kind of being like "meh" was pretty hard for me to take in.
I loved the characters of book one. Mia, Kim, Adam, Teddy, the family. Seriously, they were all great, I just wish we had seen more of them. More of them alive, that is. My biggest issues were with Mia's character as a whole. The story is gut wrenchingly emotional but Mia really got on my last nerve. Unfortunately that didn't change in book two. I'll get there in a second though.
All-in-all I am giving If I Stay a 3 Star overall review. I know that may seem a little harsh, and it kind of is, but I really really disappointed by this read. I really hoped it would meet the hype and not just be another read that's ridiculously overrated by the masses. Judging by the trailer I had really high hopes that were ultimately crushed. If the film is half as good as that trailer makes it look then I have no doubt that I will enjoy it far better than the book.
Where She Went
I will start out by saying the most important thing about this book. I liked it WAY more than If I Stay! My biggest issues were, again, with Mia.
I'll go ahead and knock all the negatives out of the way first this time. The very first line of the synopsis gives away my biggest problem: "It's been three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life." Wait. WHAT?! You mean to tell me after all that she left him? Oh yeah. That was the tipping point for me with Mia. I am just done with her. Book two, thankfully, takes place from Adam's POV three years after book one. Adam had shot to superstardom when his band, Shooting Star, hits the scene in a huge way. Essentially they are the One Direction of this book universe. Adam is the biggest thing since sliced bread, yet he cannot get over the devastating loss of his one true love, Mia. Why did Mia leave Adam? Because she is selfish. No seriously, I'm not going to run the entire book here but there is a confrontation and it was THE DUMBEST thing I've ever heard. Mia treats Adam like absolute crap and yet we're still supposed to love her? No. Mia has basically ruined Adam's life and now we have to forgive her. Like I said, no spoilers, but the scene in question takes place atop the Brooklyn bridge. The same bridge I would have pushed Mia off of, had I been Adam. I don't use memes, EVER, but this seems appropriate here:
The angst is STRONG with this one. Now it has come to my attention that maybe I don't like this aspect of the story because it really does hit close to home with me. Guy treats girl like princess, guy gets left out in the cold. Yeah, yeah, yeah, everyone has been there, but I felt like I seriously could relate better to Adam more than many other characters I have read. Adam was extremely misunderstood and really pushed aside in book one so I was really glad to hear all about his life. Adam is a great character and may be added to the list of my favorite male book characters, which is the only reason I am reviewing book two so high. Adam has a great story. Again, like book one, I read this in one sitting. The difference being that I read this one so fast because I was in love with it, not because I wanted to hurry up and finish it!
The interesting thing about Where She Went is that is takes place over the course of a single day yet so much happens. We see a remarkable character transformation from Adam, and thankfully a somewhat happy ending. This book also featured heavy use of the flashbacks which were just as distracting this time around, except this time they added to the story. I love classical music more than I like rocking out, so you would think I would appreciate the class and elegance of Mia's story... wrong. Adam seriously kept me interested from page one.
The emotions were in check and well written, Adam's character development was phenomenal, and the ending was.... somewhat satisfying (you can tell that it was the easy way to please fans). I am so glad I didn't stop after book one because book two really hit it out of the park. If there was a way I could have JUST read book two, I probably would have. IN FACT here's my suggestion. Let's ditch this whole two book thing and just make it one book. One book in two parts. It'd still only be about 400 pages and I would have been way happier. I cannot imagine having had to wait 2 years for this second novel in the series to come out, I would not have been happy, at all.
Overall I am giving Where She Went a solid 4.25 rating I had lots of problems with this read as well, but nowhere near the issues I had with book one. I highly recommend this read, however book one needs to be read first so it's really a moot point. Take it however you will readers, but book two is well worth suffering through book one!
Where can you get your copy? Click the links below to be taken to Gayle Forman's store pages!
*Disclaimer $4.99 is rather pricey for an ebook. Just saying*
Alright readers, there you have it. My series review If I Stay by Gayle Forman. It may not have been my favorite series of all time, but I'm still glad I check it out before the film's release later this summer (8/22). I know LOTS of people love this series so I just want to point out that mine is only one of thousands of reviews of this series. Please read the series for yourself and don't solely make decision based off one reviewer! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! Until next time, Happy Reading!