Not so long ago I had pre-written a book review that I wanted to save for a day where there’s really nothing else to say and not even a decent photo to post. Today is such a day and now you’ll get my thoughts on this book. The English title is “Me Before You”. The German title translates to “A full half year”.
This book is widely popular and chances one of you has at least heard about it, if not read it, are very high I guess. I know at least one of you has already seen the movie 😉 (which officially comes out in June this year). I’ve seen the trailer and I think it’s safe to say, that the movie seems to stay very true to the story in the book. I’ve seen all important story elements in there. So you won’t get spoiled by what I have to say.
If you have neither read the book nor seen the movie and are a NO SPOILERS type, then stop reading here!
Frist off… I probably wouldn’t have read the book if S hadn’t recommended it to me so much. She loved it very much, said she had even cried several times and that I HAD to read it. Now I’m not the biggest fan of the so called rom-com genre in books and movies, but it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a good rom-com if I come across one.
Um… rom-com? Is that book a rom-com? Well.. there may be some funny parts in it but no, it’s not a comedy so erase that.
Let’s just say I’m not a regular reader of your typical love story and stuff like that. And then I got even more unsure when S told me that the story resembled in parts the story of the most wonderful French movie The Intouchables (German: Ziemlich beste Freunde). (And if you haven’t seen that movie yet: what the hell are you waiting for???)
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read a story similar to this one. But then I didn’t have a chance because S gave me the book as a Christmas present. When I then heard that it was already adapted to a movie that would come out in the summer, I thought I shouldn’t wait for too long with reading because I would most definitely never read it anymore if I had seen the movie first. Because I hate that!! Only two exceptions from that rule: the Twilight series (yes I KNOW! shut up!) and Night Train to Lisbon. I almost always lose complete interest in a book if I’ve seen the movie. There’s no point for me anymore to find out an original story of a book and make up my own characters when the movie has fed me all the information. Although most of the time I can’t stop from comparing movie to book while watching and also most of the time I like the book more in the end. I know that one shouldn’t compare the one with the other. I know that a movie can never be as detailed as the book. I know that both are art in their own individual way. But it is how it is. And still I prefer it that way, rather than spoiling the experience about learning about a story from a book.
And so I began reading.
Didn’t take many pages and I found myself wondering who had copied from who? When did Jojo Moyes start writing her book? Before or after The Intouchables came out? Then I remembered that the movie was and adaptation of an autobiography that was released many years before the movie even came out. And Moyes’ book was released in 2013. So was she a copycat? Because the way that Lou (protagonist #1) becomes Will’s (protagonist #2) caretaker is pretty similar: poor underdog with no qualifications in that field gets the job because they are such an unusual character. There’s the rich handicapped guy who’s crusty at first and everything’s off to an awkward start but suddenly the two find out they have a connection and yadda yadda.
But when I was sure this book would be a complete copy, the story became different, thank God. (Although there are still some similarities to Intouchables and I wouldn’t rule out that Moyes wasn’t at least inspired by that story to write her own.)
I liked the book, but I never shed a tear. About halfway through I said to S: “don’t tell me if I’m right or not but I’ll predict that Will dies in the end and leaves a big chunk of money for Lou in case to enable her to live the life that he wants her to live.”
So the reason could be that I found it too predictable in the end. (And no, Intouchables has a completely different ending so it wasn’t because of any possible similarities.) Albeit I thought the ending was the only possible ending. Everything else would have been too sappy.
Other than that I wouldn’t really call this book a love story. I don’t think that Lou and Will had fallen in love with each other if Will hadn’t been disabled. I wasn’t even sure if Will was really absolutely in love with her. What he loved about her was how she tried to turn his final decision around. He liked her, but I don’t think he loved her. I liked Lou’s character (most of the time) but I also don’t think it was real love that bound her to him. She maybe thought it was love, but for some reason I don’t think that “relationship” would have worked out if he had changed his decision.
While coming across as a lightweight romantic novel, it still touched the very serious topic of medically assisted suicide. I’m sure there are many discussions about Will and if what he did was “right” or “wrong”. I don’t even want to go there. I think that no one who is NOT in Will’s situation – or is disabled in one way or the other – should judge here. I think that everyone should have the right to decide what to do with their life. And no healthy person with the great gift of being able to walk and run and move and live an independent life should judge about the decision of a person who isn’t that lucky.
The real tragedy is, that in most countries, as far as I know, assisted suicide is against the law, which I think is just wrong! But that’s not a topic to cover here in between talking about a romantic novel.
All in all I liked this novel for what it was: a romantic, sometimes funny, somtimes sad story that touched a serious topic. But still a romantic novel. It was an easy-read, I liked how she created the not always likeable characters (looking at you, Patrick also Lou’s sister was on my nerves at times) and I wasn’t always down with how Will tried to control Lou’s life in telling her what she should or shouldn’t do while he refused to let anyone tell him what to do.
So… nice enough book but it was neither life-changing (like a couple reviewers said) nor will it find a way in my book hall of fame.
And then I saw that the Khalessi (you Game of Thrones nerds will know, for everyone else: Emilia Clarke) would play Lou. Um… seriously??? NO! A big NO from me. Her type was as far from “my” Lou as I could even imagine. That’s one reason why I love to read books first. I don’t want to have a vision of a character before my eye that I haven’t made up myself when reading. I would have hated to have a vision of Emilia Clarke all the time. No, I haven’t seen the full movie and I only saw the full trailer AFTER I had finished the book. So who knows… maybe she even nails the role. But… um… no. Sam Clafin as Will on the other hand though… while it wasn’t exactly “my” Will, I don’t object him.
I think the trailer doesn’t suck. From what I can see, the movie stays pretty true to the original story, which is good! So now I’m curious if Daenerys Targaryen can convince me as Lou :-). Speaking of which: looks like another GOT character – Charles Dance who plays Tywin Lannister in GOT – is playing Will’s father.
That’s it. I’ve also read the sequel to this book, but I’ll save that review for another day with no inspiration for a photo or something to write.