Friday, November 4, 2016

Review: ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes

Rating: 2/5 stars

Will Traynor is such a selfish and entitled individual, and I really dislike his character.

I was so excited to read this book after hearing praise upon praise about it. I finally started it, and the prologue intrigued me and left me wanting more, but fifty pages in I realized I kept waiting for things to happen while nothing was actually happening. This first half of this book was very slow.

But once the pace picked up and became more engaging, the plot started to frustrate me before it downright angered me.

After an accident, Will becomes a quadriplegic, having no use of his arms or legs. He becomes completely depressed and begins to think that life is not worth living anymore simply because he's in a wheelchair. Will says that "this is not the life I chose." Yeah, well nobody chooses their lives, so you don't get to either. You can choose to be happy or sad about the life you've been given, but you can't change what life you've been given. But he seems to think that his life isn't worth living if it isn't exactly how he wants it to be. Entitled jerk. And tell me, how many times has something unexpected or bad happened in your life? Those kinds of things happen to every single person. That doesn't make a life unlivable.

Will thinks he's so pitiable in his wheelchair, but you can still live a happy and fulfilling life while spending it entirely in a wheelchair. Will doesn't even try. He doesn't look at any positives in his life, not a single one. I hate how he thinks that living with a disability is unbearable. Millions of people live with disabilities every day and you don't see them trying to kill themselves because their lives aren't good enough or how they want them to be. I suspect if I had a disability, Will's character and attitude would frustrate me tenfold what it does now.

I had heard before reading this book that it enforces ableism, which is the idea that able-bodied people are superior to disabled people. I didn't think that was the case for the first one hundred pages or so because I can understand how going from a privileged lifestyle of an able-bodied person to being disabled can be a frustrating learning process for both the disabled person and the family and friends around him. I can also understand how those who have never had experience working with disabled people might be misled or non-understanding about that lifestyle, such as with Louisa's family who kept making disrespectful comments in the beginning of the book about Will's disability. But then it got to the point when I just got fed up and angry about how Will was acting with his disability and how everyone perceived him post-accident, and I began to realize that this book does enforce ableism, even if it doesn't try to.

Enter Louisa, Will's caretaker hired by his mother to keep him happy and safe. Will is the biggest jerk to her, and I hated that. At least she got him to soften up a bit, but that wasn't cause for him to act how he did. I enjoyed Louisa's character quite a bit, even though she did frustrate me sometimes.

Despite the aforementioned parts of this book that irked me, I did actually enjoy other parts of it. I liked the writing style and found it to be easy to lose myself in the pages of the book and keep on reading. In fact, for about a hundred pages I was glued to the book and couldn't get enough of the story. There was also a bit of humor strewn throughout the pages, but I suspect most of the humor was lost on me since I'm not British and the author writes very Britishly.

Overall, however, I don't think you're missing much if you don't read this book. In fact, just watch the movie since most of it is verbatim what's in the book but not as slow paced. I was frustrated and angered throughout most of the book, and the ending makes the whole book feel pointless. I hated it. Ultimately, this was a very unsatisfying book, and I think that's what I disliked the most. I don't need a perfect ending to enjoy the book, but the whole plot leading up to the ending felt like it had no real purpose. I just felt really let down and unfulfilled.

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