(Review originally posted on my livejournal account: http://intoyourlungs.livejournal.com/34525.html)Why I Read It:
I read and really enjoyed If I Stay last year. Due to the giant TBR, I didn't rush to read the sequel, but I really really wanted to. Finally, I decided to start reading it during my breaks at work.
I was so excited to read this book. Looking at the page for it on Goodreads, I was looking at ratings other bloggers I follow and trust gave this book and they were ALL five stars, save for one (who gave it four). And besides, I liked the first book so much, I would have to like this one too, right? AND AND AND we get to see what happened to Adam and Mia!! That was kind of left hanging at the end of the first book (though I really didn't mind.) But... this book ultimately fell a bit flat for me. I still LIKED it, but they were quite a few things about it that irked me.
A lot of people were excited about this book because it's narrated from Adam's point-of-view. I see why this was done, but unfortunately for me Adam drove me kind of crazy. I'm going to try to state this as tactfully as possible because I think I'm going to come off as a bit heartless, but my biggest beef with him was that he just couldn't get over Mia. In Where She Went, Mia and Adam have been broken up for three years, and because of it, Adam's become a bit of a mess. He's anxiety-ridden, constantly thinks about and obsesses over Mia leaving him, and has overall become a bit unbearable. Now, I want to say that I totally understand having a hard time getting over a break up, especially one that was really serious. I've been there and it SUCKS, and as much as I wanted Adam to find some degree of happiness, it almost felt like he didn't WANT to help himself. So, just a tad too much angst for my liking.
I think another part of the reason that I didn't enjoy this second installment was that I just couldn't empathize with Adam's story (being heartbroken over Mia) as much as Mia's story (trying to decide whether she should wake up from her comatose state despite knowing her whole family is dead). If I Stay had so many moments that teared me up because they were just so freakin' heartwrenching. I didn't really get that feeling with Where She Went because let's face it: reading a story about a dude who can't get over a girl he dated years ago is just not as gripping as one about a girl trying to decide if she wants to live or die.
The ending also really bothered me (actually, I think it's what bothered me the most). I'm going to talk about it here, but I'll make the text white, so if you want to read, just highlight. If you don't want to be spoiled though, stay far far away:
So it bothered me how Adam was suddenly ALL BETTER after him and Mia get back together. I mean, he's just been pining after her for the past THREE YEARS and had never really gotten back up on his own two feet. Mia on the other hand made a whole new life for herself, so she seems to be in a much better position to jump back into the relationship. With Adam, it feels like he's DEFINED by his relationship with Mia (which is why he fell to pieces when she left him) and I don't think that's exactly a good thing. Also, it sort of irked me that he would call his girlfriend to be like "Hey, I'm with that ex I was never able to get over, sooo I'm breaking up with you." and then IMMEDIATELY right after go have sex with Mia. Just felt skeevy.
Enough about what I didn't like, because there ARE things I liked about this book. For one, the writing is just as real and as visceral as If I Stay. Yeah, maybe I didn't connect with Adam's story as much as Mia's, but Forman is definitely a talented writer. Even when I wasn't as engaged with Adam as much as I wanted to be, I was engaged with the writing itself and it kept me turning the pages. The passages when Adam and Mia are together are especially gripping. The tension was palpable and I felt like I was holding my breath -- I just wanted them to quit the small talk and talk about the BIG stuff. When Mia is explaining to Adam why she broke things off with him the way she did was pretty powerful too, and was much more reminiscent of the things I liked about If I Stay. I was also impressed by how Mia's life post-accident was written. It was all very raw, which again, harkens back to the first book.
I also really liked Mia herself. While her attitude towards Adam was kind of frustrating at first (completely aloof, despite having broken up with him without a word), I loved how she was able to build a life for herself despite her horrible tragedy. She's a very strong person and dealt with HER baggage a lot better than Adam did his, and I think many would agree that Mia's was substantially heftier.Final Verdict:
While I didn't like this quite as much as If I Stay, it's still a very decent read. Unfortunately for me though, the main character Adam frustrated me slightly with his angst, and some aspects of the ending didn't sit too well with me. However, despite that I still enjoyed this novel because Forman can write like a boss. Even if I didn't always connect with Adam, I was always engaged with the writing which is obviously a good sign. It was also great to see Mia again, and while her attitude towards Adam is slightly annoying at first, we really get to see what a strong young woman she's grown into since the events of the first book. If you've read If I Stay and were at all invested in Adam and Mia's relationship, this is an absolute must-read. Even if you weren't, there's still enough to be found here for a satisfying read, even if I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have liked.