Review: After You by Jojo Moyes

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: After You by Jojo MoyesAfter You by Jojo Moyes
Series: Me Before You #2
Published by Pamela Dorman on September 29, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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four-half-stars

A NOTE FROM JOJO MOYES ABOUT HER EXCITING NEW NOVEL, AFTER YOU:

Dear Reader,

I wasn't going to write a sequel to Me Before You. But for years, readers kept asking and I kept wondering what Lou did with her life. In the end the idea came, as they sometimes do, at 5:30 in the morning, leaving me sitting bolt upright in my bed and scrambling for my pen.

It has been such a pleasure revisiting Lou and her family, and the Traynors, and confronting them with a whole new set of issues. As ever, they have made me laugh, and cry. I hope readers feel the same way at meeting them—especially Lou—again. And I'm hoping that those who love Will will find plenty to enjoy.

—Jojo Moyes

Though I’m loath to admit it, I occasionally remain a bit of a book snob. Despite the fact that I’ve read several Jojo Moyes books now, I’m still a bit hesitant when I start a new one, because they’re so popular. What if I just got sucked in and they’re not actually good and I have to judge myself for my past taste? Well, you know what? Just because something’s popular doesn’t mean that it’s bad, though some things super are. Moyes’ novels, the ones I’ve read at least, have all been moving, romantic, and bursting with realistic characters. After You may just be my favorite one so far.

Warning: there will be spoilers for Me Before You, because that’s just unavoidable really.

Those who follow along with my opinions in any measure, here, on Twitter, or on Goodreads, are probably aware how much I abhor surprise series. In my opinion, standalones should stay that way. See, if the author didn’t plan for it and then wrote one because there was a demand, the magic might be gone. Plus, there might not be any sort of a plot left because it wasn’t intended. This added to my skepticism about Me Before You, but, much as I hate the idea of them, I cannot resist checking out the surprise sequels to books I loved.

After You is the surprise sequel I never knew I needed. It’s not so much that there wasn’t space for it, because, obviously, with Will Traynor’s suicide, Louisa has a lot of shit to work through. At the same time, that does not sound like it would make for the happiest book, though it’s not like Me Before You was the happiest book in the end either. The other reason I’d never considered more of Louisa’s story is that, tragic and impossible though it was, I did very much ship Louisa and Will, and I don’t think I wanted to go through that pain again.

For once, I am so SO glad that a surprise series cropped up, because, more than anyone else Louisa deserved this book. I’m so happy that Louisa got the chance to grieve and to move on and to grow and to not forever be the tragic footnote in Will’s life story. That is not, by the way, how Me Before You felt, but in write-ups of his life, that’s probably how it would go.

Moyes really digs down into emotions and relationships, which is why I always end up loving her books. These are character books with emotional arcs. It’s not about being unpredictable, but about being real. What shines in a Moyes book are the personalities and the way the different personalities connect. Even in Me Before You, with Will unable to move anything but his head, she managed to make me ship the two of them, and I’m totally not into the whole tragic love thing; that was all due to her talent at building chemistry and forging bonds between characters.

In After You, it’s been a couple of years and Louisa’s in a rut. She promised Will that she would LIVE, but she’s working a shitty job at an airport pub and living in an apartment that doesn’t feel lived in because she hasn’t made it her own at all.She’s forced out of her regular routine by a fluke accident that almost takes her life: she falls off her apartment building. People aren’t sure if she was attempting suicide (she wasn’t), and her family finally insists that she move back home or get help with her grief.

Louisa joins a group for those mourning the loss of loved ones. At first, she feels out of place, since she had known Will for a much shorter time than anyone else had the person they were mourning. Much like Louisa, I slowly came to care about the quirky bunch in the Moving On group. Even with these fairly minor characters, Moyes develops them. Here too, her ability to talk about deep, dark subjects while also being very funny shines. Her books make me a bit weepy but they make me laugh too.

The major impact on Louisa emotionally in the book isn’t the group or finding love again. Lily sweeps into Louisa’s life and changes everything when she announces that she is Will Traynor’s daughter about whom he never knew. Lily’s a wild child, and Louisa doesn’t really want to be involved but also feels like she owes it to Will to do something. Lily shocks Louisa out of her routine, her complacency, but she also becomes an excuse not to get away. There’s no one thing that adds up to Louisa moving on, and I think that’s why this book works so well; it’s a little bit of everything, including time.

There’s a romance and, by the way, I super totally ship it. Praise Gansey for finally sending a shippy book my way. They’re sexy and adorable and have a really healthy chemistry. I also really love that Sam isn’t attractive in an unearthly way, but in a normal guy way. And of course I have a mega love for relationships where the man wants commitment and the woman is terrified of it. Oh, this adorable ship.

The scene stealers of the book turn out to be Louisa’s parents. They’re sort of in the background and I didn’t pay much attention at first, but by the end I was howling. Lousida’s mom has learned about feminism and is questioning the patriarchy, and her dad is freaking out. It’s a very cute, non-preachy feminist message. Louisa’s mom has so much fun  breaking out of her shell, and their plot emphasizes that you’re never to old to change and grow. Plus, the resolution of their marital troubles as a result is one of the funniest things I’ve read all year.

There are a couple of spots where the book gets a little bit close to the melodrama line, but the characterization, the healthy messages, and the humor make After You a favorite that I’m sure I’ll be revisiting.

Favorite Quote:

It was an odd sensation, having to view my family as human beings.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif rent no day but today

6 responses to “Review: After You by Jojo Moyes”

  1. Your review perfectly sums up my feelings about this book, Christina! I also called it the “sequel I never knew needed” because it’s SO TRUE. Lou’s parents were such a hoot, and I was totally on board the ship in this book. Anyway, GREAT review! 😀
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  2. Leah says:

    Hi Christina,

    For me, ME BEFORE YOU needed a sequel. AFTER YOU was a wonderful sequel. I am kind of holding out on a tiny hope that there will be a third one somewhere down the line.

    • Christina Franke says:

      Not sure what would happen in a third, but I’m fairly certain I’d like whatever Moyes writes at this point. :-p

  3. You’re the first one I’ve seen to review this one that also loved Me Before You so this gives me hope. A lot of people have been hating on it and as much as I agree about surprise series’, I wanted to love this one too. Going to re-add it to my TBR now!
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    • Christina Franke says:

      You very much should try it! I mean, maybe you’ll be with the naysayers and that’s okay, but I hope you love it too. It does a nice job with the process of moving on, I think. Honors his memory but doesn’t trap her in forever.

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