Where She Went (If I Stay #2)Hot
By the time Where She Went takes places, Adam isn’t that understanding and sweet boy, but instead a broken, desperate character who longs for more than what he has. I understood where angsty Adam was coming from, but it was still hard to read. I felt like for so much of the book, he was just meandering aimlessly, both in his head and with his actual feet.
I hoped it would get better when Mia came back into the picture, and it did, a little. I enjoyed the exploration of Adam and Mia’s journey and how the events of If I Stay didn’t just affect Mia’s life, but everyone’s around her. The events of If I Stay were tragic, but for the time being, they were contained in one book. We never really got to see what the outcome of Mia’s choice would be. I think Gayle Forman was pretty brave to write about Mia and Adam three years after If I Stay–it really explores the lingering effect that tragedies can have, and I think this was the aspect of the book I appreciated the most.
As for the actual relationship progression of Mia and Adam, I just. . . didn’t feel it? I appreciated it, sure. I even enjoyed it, but I never really connected with this book, or this Adam on an emotional level. I wanted him to succeed, I wanted him and Mia to be happy, but I wasn’t going to walk away from the book feeling any differently if their fate had been different. I just wasn’t as invested.
I know most readers seem to like Where She Went better than If I Stay, and while I can see why, I don’t feel the same towards this book. I liked it well enough, but I think I liked If I Stay for different reasons than some reviewers did. For me, If I Stay was all about Mia–I felt we were so similar, so it was hard for me to be as invested in Where She Went.
Final Impression: This was review was pretty hard to write because I just left Where She Went feeling a bit confused. I liked it, but something was missing that was present for me in If I Stay. I think this was a book that was necessary for Adam and Mia’s story, but I didn’t connect with it the same way I did with If I Stay. I’d still recommend it, but it’s a 3/5 star read for me.
And Adam…oh Adam. He was a bit of a knight in shining armor in If I Stay, the kind of character you really need to have a happy ending. But the three years between the two stories have not been kind to him, and he made a lot of bad decisions. I kind of wanted to throttle him in his flashbacks, keep him from going down paths I knew were going to mean nothing but trouble. But I couldn’t, and he screwed up over and over, and it was frustrating and annoying and real.
The one problem I had with the book, other than that it made me feel feelings I’d rather not have (which, to be clear, means it succeeded), was that while the emotions were extremely real and visceral, the external events were a bit hard to swallow. I had a hard time buying that Adam became a famous rock star and Mia a world-class cellist within the 3-year span following the accident (especially considering the physical rehabilitation Mia would have needed). Is it possible? Yes. People become famous, and people date people that also become famous. But that these people would become famous…I don’t know. It seemed like a bit of a stretch. I kind of wish it had been more a case of two people bumping into each other than two famous people being able to follow each other’s lives and seek each other out because they are famous.
And the only other issue is that after spending the entire book working towards the ending, I was left wanting more. After all those painful emotions, I needed something more to balance it out. But I can’t say this is a criticism of the book — shouldn’t all good books leave us wanting more?
I’d have a hard time determining whether I preferred If I Stay or Where She Went, because while they feature the same characters in the same timeline of events, they are two very different books. It feels like an apples-to-oranges comparison. So I’ll just say that Where She Went, once again, made me have all sorts of feelings, both uplifting and painful, made me connect with realistic and interesting characters, and left me thinking for a long time afterward.
Another bold writing move was the change of the narrator from Mia to Adam. Even though Adam was a big part of If I Stay, I never got a real read on what he was like as a person; I could tell that Mia loved him and that he was a pretty good guy and that was enough. Then, I started reading Where She Went and I found myself hating him and the book in general, largely as a result. Adam's just a stereotype at the outset: a super successful rock star, who, whether intentionally or not, is hogging the spotlight, thus causing a rift with the band. He also pops pills, chain smokes and has trashed at least one hotel room. Plus, he has a hot actress girlfriend, which is an improvement on the one night stands he had before her. I could not stand all of this, even though I understood that it was him falling apart after Mia. At least fall apart in an original manner.
The book definitely picked up when he and Mia began interacting. After having read the flashbacks from If I Stay of their relationship, the reader has an idea of what they were like together, and now it's amazing to see them so stilted and awkward. They have grown and changed and are weighed down by all of the words unsaid.
My favorite aspect of the novel is definitely the one last night before they were both to depart on their tours. It has a Before Sunrise feel to it. I love that movie, so it's not surprising that I would dig that element here. While such a brief time period could be limiting, it has an interesting way of being very freeing, since it's your last chance and you just need to get things out. I thought that was very well done.
All and all, having finished the book, I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. It might be too optimistic, but, then again, maybe it works just right considering all the crap the characters had to go through to get there. Perhaps time will tell as I think back on the book. Either way, this is not a book you will want to miss reading if you enjoyed the first, even though it is quite different. I can offer a couple of readalikes too, both selected for characters overcoming grief (and the stupid things they have done in their grief): Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly and Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft.