Friday Flashback is hosted by Jen @ The Introverted Reader.
Originally Reviewed: March 6, 2011
I loved "If I Stay". LOVED IT. It was one of those books that made my heart and soul ache. It moved me and surprised me and lingered... So much so that I kept mentally comparing the way I felt reading the two books, and I admit to being a bit disappointed by this follow-up.
This is Adam's story. I loved Adam in "If I Stay". He was this incredibly supportive and sensitive and wonderful guy who loved a girl so much that he would do anything for her, who accepted and honored her for being the unique and oddball opposite to him, rather than wanting her to be something she wasn't, who loved her family so much that their deaths were as painful to him as his own family's deaths would be. I liked Adam so much, that I didn't even talk about him in my "If I Stay" review, because nothing would have really done justice to how perfect I thought he was. I don't mean literally perfect, he had flaws, but just perfect in the situations he was in.
Unfortunately, I barely even liked Adam in "Where She Went". I get that Mia leaving him left him heartbroken. I get that. Even taking into account the unusual aspect of the end of their relationship (meaning him supporting her through the accident and the recovery), I just find being heartbroken, anxiety-ridden, depressed and self-destructive for 3 years (with no end in sight) a bit... tiresome. That's longer than they were even together. And yet, after three years, a meteoric musical career, fame and fortune and success, all Adam can do is blame Mia for walking out on him and leaving him cold, and take that bitterness and anger out on others.
I don't mean to sound insensitive. I know that many, many people will find just this thing I found so tiresome to be rather romantic. We all want to be the center of someone's world. Someone's soul mate. I understand what she meant to him, and what their potential meant to him. But with every outburst and cynical thought, I just got more and more tired of it.
I also missed the music that was so much a part of what brought "If I Stay" to life. I know that there was a lot of musical references in "Where She Went", but it wasn't the same. I have no interest in where each of Shooting Star's songs debuted on the charts, or other details of their rise. It's enough to know they made it, for me. What I missed was the way that music mattered, the way they LIVED through music, not just lived by it, or with it, if that makes sense.
All of this is not to say that I disliked the book. I didn't. I liked it, overall. Some parts quite a bit more than others. The writing is still fantastically emotive and brutal in a way. It pulls no punches and makes sure that the reader feels everything (to a fault - see above). I WAS sad and hurt for Adam's loss, and I did want him to find a measure of happiness again... and if not happiness, then closure and acceptance. It's hard to lose those we love. It's even harder to lose those we love after we've helped them through their own lost loved ones. Who's there to help pick up those kind of pieces? I grieved for him for that.
I liked the way that the story came kind of full circle, and Adam did get his closure, even though it came through finding out things that certainly hurt. I liked that he was able to understand and appreciate the decision that Mia made in leaving, even though he was shattered by it. I liked the way he found new reserves of self-respect in himself because of this revelation.
This book didn't live up to "If I Stay" for me, but it is by no means a bad book. I like themes of lasting love, and I think that many people will love this book for that reason, but I just didn't think that this one had the same heart that "If I Stay" had, and for that, I can only give it 2 stars.
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