Title: If I Stay
Author: Gayle Forman
Genre: Paranormal, young adult, romance
Stand alone or series: First in a series
How did I get this book: Borrowed
Let’s start with a brief synopsis (from the back cover):
On a day that started like any other…
Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, adoring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. Then, in an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left—the most important decision she’ll ever make.
Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting, and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving.
What I thought:
Is that enough? Can I be done?
No? Okay, I’ll try to put into words how I feel.
I did not emotionally connect with this book. At all. There was one scene close to the middle that made me pretty sad, but mostly because I imagined what it would be like if that happened to me. I don’t want to give anything away, but I have a younger brother too, so I could relate. But I didn’t feel anything because the narrative made me feel that way, but rather because I could imagine it for myself.
Everything I read or heard about this book made it seem like I was going to cry and be devastated and that I would remember/be thinking about this book for a long time after I’d done reading it. In fact, the back cover quotes the Sacramento Bee as saying, “Long after its last moment, readers may find themselves dwelling on how the story resonates in their own lives.” Honestly, I doubt I’ll think about this book after I finish this review.
The “romance” in this novel is non-existent, at least to me, until the last 5 pages. The relationship has been having problems since the beginning; Mia actually says that. She says that her relationship with Adam started off rocky and that the last several months of their relationship has been problematic as well because they’ve been moving in different directions in life. Mia says that the middle of the relationship was wonderful; they were in love, blah blah blah. But the reader doesn’t actually see that.
Everything that the reader is supposed to feel in this novel is, I guess, implied, but even Mia doesn’t feel anything. In the state she’s in, she doesn’t feel: not the physical pain of her injuries nor the emotional pain of the tragedy that’s occurred. How in the world are WE supposed to feel anything if she doesn’t?? Seriously. I don’t get it. Also, you can’t tell me I’m supposed to be sad. You have to show me, you have to make me feel it through the narrative. I just didn’t, and, therefore, I didn’t connect.
I will say that If I Stay was an easy read. I read it quite quickly. For some reason I can’t actually explain, I will probably read the sequel. I guess it’s mostly because I’m curious. And because I know it’ll probably be as quick a read as this one was. The writing style was easy and simple, which was nice.
I honestly don’t know if maybe I just read this at the wrong time. Maybe after the other books I read this week, this one just didn’t live up to those or something. I do think this book was overrated, and that my opinion might have suffered from the hype surrounding it. It was not “devastating” as the synopsis said. Sad, sure, but only because of the subject matter and not from the way it made me feel. I was just kind of bored with it, to be honest.
The bottom line:
I couldn’t connect with this book. And if I can’t connect with it, I’m not going to like it.
Rating: 4 – Eh. This is bad.
Reading next: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Have you read this book? What did you think?