Apr 23

Book Review: After You

After You (Me Before You, #2)After You by Jojo Moyes

If every novel aims to tell an interesting story about believable, likable characters, this novel succeeds admirably. I’d listened to the first more than a year ago, and this audiobook has the same fantastic narrator.

Louisa Clark can be quite infuriating, as she is her own worst enemy, but she’s also quite believable. Who hasn’t done something even knowing while we do it that it’s not in our own best interest? (ie. yes, I will have another drink.) As the book opens, she’s used Will’s money to travel, and to buy a small apartment in London, but she’s working a demeaning, dead-end-job and doesn’t seem to have any direction in her life. She doesn’t have any friends, she doesn’t have any responsibilities, and she’s just kind of drifting along in a fog of grief, estranged from her family because of the event at the end of the previous book.

As soon as the stage is set, everything changes. Louisa suffers an accident that forces her to live with her parents, and then she meets a teenage girl who claims to be Will’s daughter. She makes a friend through her “moving on” circle and deals with what may be a blossoming romance along with the oft-infuriating self-absorption of Lily, the teenage girl. Lily, alas, was the least-well-rounded character in the book, feeling a bit like a stereotype of a teenage girl. She’s sullen and withdrawn and wheedling and exasperating and charming by turns. I haven’t met this sort of girl in real life, but she exists frequently in media.

No one is perfect in this book, but most of the characters are charming despite their flaws, excepting Lily’s mother, whom we all just feel good about loathing. Lou’s parents are having their own drama, brought about by Louisa’s mother having started to read feminist literature and developing her own autonomy, which causes a rift in their traditional conservative Catholic household. Lily is a hand grenade of drama, with colossally bad judgement that seems almost of the same self-sabotage vein as Louisa’s.

The worst part of the book for me was when Louisa makes a self-sabotaging decision that had me shouting at the audiobook. All her loved ones agree that it’s the worst decision ever, but it was in keeping with Louisa’s personality so I forgave the author, even if I didn’t forgive Louisa. She also sabotages her own romantic relationship, first through a misunderstanding, and then through her own lack of emotional stability, but that just caused some great tension and didn’t make me really angry. When characters do stupid things, and you know they’re stupid things but also know exactly why the character is doing them, it’s forgivable.

The best part of this novel was the resolution. Even though it’s sort of the second in a series, I feel like you could pick this up not having read the first one and be totally fine with following along. I also feel like I don’t have to read the third book to have a satisfactory ending. The loose plot threads were wound up, some of the bad guys were punished and some of the good guys were rewarded, all the main characters found a satisfactory resolution to their conflicts.

I’ll probably seek out the next book, just so I can spend more time with the characters. They all feel like real people, people I’ve known for a very long while, and I enjoyed spending time with them. Even some of the throwaway characters felt like real people. I especially enjoyed Louisa’s mother in this book.

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