For the last several years I’ve been deconstructing books in my head I as read them. Taking note of the voice, the tone, style, how the characters interact, do they feel real, if not why? I’m hyper-aware of overused words and lines that pull me out of the story. When I like the way an author does something I write it down in the back of my mind to reference later. I used to think this didn’t make for very good book reviews but lately, I’ve decided maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe I just write and once in a while, I take things apart for you anyway.
After I finished IF I STAY there wasn’t much of a question about reading the next book by Gayle Forman, WHERE SHE WENT. The first was a bit of a cliffhanger, with the reader never really knowing what happens after she decides to stay. The way Forman unfolds the narrative is through a series of flashbacks, much the same way THE 5TH WAVE was written. The whole of book one seemingly took place over a day, although we learn in book two it was more like four or five days. Four or five days where our main character was comatose in the hospital. Ninty percent of the story already took place. It’s an interesting way to tell the story. Almost like telling it from the end backward. While WHERE SHE WENT wasn’t quite as end of the book backward, she used the same effect.
All of my regular readers know about my book two theories and how most of them fall short. This was not that case. From the first to the last the book held strong. It was emotionally gripping, left enough questions to make the reader ask why and turn the page, and then led me away from the truth with the mc’s pain. The pros were not as lyrical as the first book but it also made sense. The first book was from a female classical cellist’s pov. She’s dealing with the total loss of her family and the decision whether or not to live. In some ways, I can see the parallels with a person who feels as though they’ve lost everything and is now considering suicide. The second was from a male rock star pov. He’s the male half of the first book. Only his future didn’t go the way he thought it would. He’s spiraled into using drugs and alcohol. He’s having severe anxiety attacks and it’s hindering his whole life. It’s a different kind of loss and struggle. Which leads to a different a voice, different experiences, and an all-around different feel. To me, this all felt appropriate.
At no point did I find my mind drifting or needing to read the same page over and over. Instead, I kept thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it. I couldn’t get back to it quick enough. Without question, I look forward to my next Forman book. If it’s even a fraction of what these last two were then its miles ahead of the books I shuffled through before it.