Me Before You, After You & Still Me by Jojo Moyes - Trilogy Recap & Thoughts (Spoilers)

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

I promised myself that 2019 would be the year I read more books, and so far I'm not doing too badly. I think my total book count this year has been 9(?) which, for a very tired, full-time working mamma, I don't think is too bad.

I started reading Me Before You a little while ago. I've been wanting to see the film for a long time, but I'm that person who needs to read the book before I watch the film (except Game of Thrones because heck no). I was debating doing a full post per book, but instead figured I would quickly recap each book in one blog post. I've been writing notes in my phone as I've going along too, so not to forget my own thoughts, so here we go!

Me Before You
I loved this book and got through it quite quickly. I instantly loved Louisa Clarke's character; her clumsy, awkward but overall determined personality worked very well against the moody and miserable portrayal of Will Traynor.

I also loved the portrayal of Louisa's family; dysfunctional yet funny and somehow works very well. I think the book was funny and light-hearted despite the serious issues it covers.

The book was also very well paced, which is one of my biggest gripes with books (& films, too!) I struggle to enjoy books that take too long to get into the actual story, but I also struggle with books that rush things along. Me Before You had a good balance; enough storyline development with each passing chapter to keep you engaged, but not enough to wonder how you skipped 5 chapters worth of unexplained storyline.

I tried not to read any other reviews of this book before reading it, and I genuinely had no idea how the story was going to end. I hoped Will would change his mind and him and Louisa would live a happily life together, but alas, that did not happen. I'm not disappointed with the ending though, in fact, I think a book hits you harder than if everything went the way you wanted it to go.

After You
After enjoying the first book so much, I was really looking forward to reading about all the wondrous adventures Louisa Clarke had gotten up to, especially given that the first book ended with a lovely, uplifting and empowering note left from Will to Louisa, but unfortunately, this was the polar opposite to how I felt about its prequel. I found it very bleak and hard to want to pick up, which is why it took me SO BLOODY LONG to get through it.

The Louisa Clarke that we came to know and love in the first book is replaced by a miserable and dulled down version of her character, which is fine, but her character is like this through the whole book (with the exception of the last 2 chapters, but still).

Throw in a stroppy 16 year old in the form of her ex employer/lover's daughter that no one knew existed until she turns up unannounced on Louisa's doorstep (and drunk at that) and it's a very miserable read.

I understand that writing about grief stricken characters doesn't exactly go hand in hand with an uplifting and exciting read, but I struggle to recall a chapter that wasn't filled with an unnecessary amount of misery.

I also felt like the whole 'Louisa's mother becomes a feminist' side story was a bit oddly placed too, and came across as a poor attempt to add in a bit of humour.

I did, however, really enjoy reading about Louisa's new love interest Sam, but I don't feel like he was in the book enough to warrant really getting to grips with his character. I really wish there was more of him in this book, in fact, it might have been its saving grace, but sadly, this is one book I'm glad to have just gotten out of the way.

Still Me
I had a bit of a break between finishing After You and picking up Still Me. I need to re-emphasise how much I really didn't enjoy the last book, so much so that it put me into a bit of a reading slump. Thankfully, however, Still Me was worlds apart from After You.

Louisa has jetted off to New York to work for the Gopniks (or more so Agnes Gopnik to be her PA/paid companion/whatever you want to call it), however things aren't as they seem and Louisa soon learns there's a lot of secrets going on in this family in the form of Agne's secret four year old daughter living in Poland (seriously, two secret daughters in one trilogy?!)

I really disliked Agnes. In fact, I really, really disliked her. But I think that's the point. I love to hate a character and I think Jojo Moyes set her character up perfectly for it.

Having said that, I absolutely LOVED Mrs De Witt (the Gopnik's older, blunt and to the point neighbour) - I thought she was sassy and witty and I absolutely loved that her and Louisa became friends (and roommates) in the end.

I also really enjoyed the rocky relationship between Louisa and Sam. I loved the fact that their relationship wasn't painted out to be perfect, I think it would have been a bit unbelievable - and frankly a little bit boring - if it had been. I loved the fact that they broke up and Louisa starting dating a Will Traynor lookalike in the form of Josh, even though I really disliked his character in the end.

Having said that, I did enjoy the ending of Sam and Louisa finding each other again, despite the fact it was over-the-top and a bit love sicky - but this is a book and a romance-kinda-book at that, so there had to be a some cliche rom-com this-would-never-happen-in-real-life moment, didn't there?

Final thoughts
This trilogy took me longer to get through than I'd have liked to admit, and I'm plainly putting that down to After You.

Do I think this trilogy needs a fourth book? Absolutely not. Was the ending left wide open for a fourth book? Absolutely.

And I'd probably read it, too.

I did enjoy these books, and reflecting back them, Louisa's character development was brilliant, and Will Traynor somehow was at the forefront of each book, despite him dying in the first one, but it wasn't in a boring oh-will-you-let-it-go-and-move-on kinda way, but more so as a reminder that someone who is no longer alive can still have such an important impact on your life and your ability to never give up, even when times prove tough.

I would recommend them with the warning that the second book is a drag, but I did actually enjoy them as a whole.

Verdict: ★★★

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