Today I'm reviewing, 'If I Stay' by Gayle Foreman.
After hearing that a movie of it was coming out fairly soon, I decided that it was in my best interests as a Bookworm to read before seeing it.
Here's the blurb!
"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."
I have only heard so many good things about this book, so it's time to review what I thought of it :)
*Reminder, this reviews contain spoilers. I cannot promise that if you haven't read this that pretty much the entire plot is spoiled to you.
So either read it yourself first, or be spoiled with a smile on your face!*
So...of late, I've been reading A LOT of death/life orientated books. If I stay, The Wish List, More Than This...I'm on a not to be dead or to be dead train journey right now, and it's going full steam ahead.
Normally whenever it comes to the YA books which have life or death, cancer, or any form of death already put into the blurb, my frequent response to recommendations to reading them is...
To be honest, it's not my type of genre. I know Mara and Savannah are otherwise, but I'm more of the Apocalyptic/Dystopian/Survival type of Genre. I'll only read novels on death from the recommendations of Mara and Savannah (Like The Book Thief, My Sister's Keeper, Thirteen Reasons Why) and a large majority of them have been some of my favourite books, but I can't be bothered spending all that time sifting through try-hard and cliche death genred books when I have two Bookworm friends to do that for me :) (LOVE YOU TWO, XOXOXO)
If I Stay was a recommendation from BOTH Savannah and Mara, and then after hearing that it was getting turned into a book, I knew that I needed to read it before we went to see it.
It was a bit spoiled for me...I was half expecting it to end like The Fault in Our Stars because I went to Goodreads to read a bit about If I Stay and I saw that there was a sequel called, Where She Went
so...logically, that means that she survives and lives on to make it a sequel, unless of course she decides that she doesn't want to live anymore and the sequel is about her being a ghost watching her loved ones...but that doesn't seem like it would sell very well, or even really make THAT much sense...
So yes, I was a little bit spoiled in that sense, but I was always on edge just in case. I have trust issues after The Fault In Our Stars.
This book is one that jumps STRAIGHT into the action. It's not a slow build up, it doesn't waste time making you become best friends with these characters, it pummels you in the face with action after action, flashback after flashback, and feels for characters you've only met a couple of pages earlier. At about 201 pages long, it definitely seems like you're on a bullet train flying past everything and trying to take everything in without going cross-eyed.
This is one of the few Death-Genre books that I actually really liked. Push aside all the cheese, cliche moments, and hope is all you need type of inspiration, and this book is truly about family and what it takes to truly live. I'm a big sucker for books about family. I love them. So that's why it hurt so much reading this book because you're introduced to this absolutely cute family, taking a little car ride, only to be hit and all except for Mia is dead. As I was trying to place myself in Mia's shoes, imagining myself if I was in a car crash with my family, and I saw their mangled, dead bodies on the road, parts of them in different places...I don't know if I would have reacted like Mia.
Mia goes into shock. She is stunned into place and is trying to make sense of it all. I asked myself while reading, would I go into shock like that? Would I completely come apart at the seams and give up?
This book made me ask questions, which I feel personally that a good book should do. You shouldn't finish it, give a little smile, then never think about it again. A good book is one that stays with you, you see it everywhere, it'll be a random thought in the small moments of silence in your day. It becomes a part of your life, and a fond memory. Just like a scent or perfume can bring back a flood of memories, books bring back the memories of the time in my life when I was reading those books.
But once again...with Death-Genre books, that's the purpose of it. It's goal. It's to make you ask questions, about life and love and the after-life and what keeps us going. People you love die, and we don't know exactly what happens after we die so we make guesses, assumptions, and it scares us...
A key part of If I Stay are the flashbacks. Mia is trailing through her life through snippets. Kind of a My-Life-Flashed-Before-My-Eyes type of thing. It's a crucial part of the story, as it's giving you more feels about the awesome family that is pretty much all dead or on the verge of death, and it gives you insights into Mia and what type of person she is. I think the flashbacks were done very well. It's SO EASY to fail flashbacks and screw them up and turn them into these really poorly, artificial, and shallow parts of the book. But in the case of If I Stay, I felt that I was actually gaining more from these memories. It worked very well in its own favour, and I credit that to Gayle Foreman.
The only thing that I didn't particularly like was the continual reminder about the pain, the choices, and the fact that she might die. Over and over was this repeated throughout the book, and while I do understand that because it is a death-genred book, it's going to contain A LOT of that, but even then...
*Slightly off-topic, but something Mara and I have discussed with much vigour is the fact that our expectations for real-life guys are so high now because of all the fictional ones, that it's widely disappointing when a guy doesn't spot you for the first time across the room, has this out-of-body experience about how much he is in love with you at first glance, and proceeds to try and get to know you as a person. Take Augustus Waters from TFIOS for instance. He is so widely popular with the fans of the book because he, in my personal opinion, was confident and cheeky and flirtatious and sought after Hazel. Take any male love interest for example of that (And yes...even Edward Cullen from Twilight, who tips the balance of taking this desired confidence to the creepy side of the examples. Stalking her while she is sleeping is not appealing, or attractive in any way, shape, or form) and you can see why it's at least a little disappointing when you go out to a get-together, party, or whatever, and find that even when guys DO find you attractive and interesting and want to say hi, they don't because they are shy. My advice? FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE OF THOSE LAID BEFORE YOU IN THE BOOKS THAT THE GIRLS YOU LIKE READ. THAT'S WHAT THEY SWOON FOR. NOT BEING CREEPILY STARED AT ACROSS THE ROOM.* Rant over.
I really liked this book! It was a bit short for my liking, but any book that I enjoy is too short.
I did not cry at all during this book, so it's not a masterpiece in my mind or anything like that.
I rate it 6 out of 10 :) And will recommend it to anyone who is wanting to go and see the movie.
My favourite quote from the book is as such -
“I realize now that dying is easy. Living is hard.”