Thursday, October 17, 2013
"Just One Year" by Gayle Forman
From Goodreads: "Just One Day. Just One Year. Just One Read.
Before you find out how their story ends, remember how it began....
When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought. . . .
The romantic, emotional companion to Just One Day, this is a story of the choices we make and the accidents that happen—and the happiness we can find when the two intersect."
Admittedly Gayle Forman's "Just One Day" was the sort of book that totally snuck up on me, not expecting much from it, having not been the biggest fan of her "If I Stay" series. "Just One Day" exceeded my expectations in every way, shape, and form, being, without a doubt, one of the best books that I've read this year. With every word I felt as if my heart would explode at any moment and, for that very reason, I will remember it for many, many years to come (it doesn't hurt that it featured Paris, a place near and dear to my heart). Because of the utter amazingness of "Just One Day", this book quickly became one of my most highly anticipated of this year- and I thought that it would only be stronger than the first (as I found the case to be with "Where She Went"), however, I must admit that it was anything but.
Where I found that emotion was the biggest strength in "Just One Day", in this, I found it to be it's biggest weakness. Willem had SO MANY road bumps in his life, however, I found it near impossible to dredge up any sympathy for him because of the overall lack of emotion. I think that the biggest contributing factor to this was his voice- I feel that his voice was far too similar to Lulu's, not bringing anything new to the table (which is a shame, because I can't recall another instance of preferring a female's POV over a male's). Because of being unable to connect to much of the story, I found it to be quite draggy and slow at times.
That being said, I loved all off the various settings of this book- it allows the reader to experience another level of escapism, getting a stamp in their mental passport, of sorts, at every stop in his journey. Additionally, I did think that the parallel storyline about Willem's parents to be quite interesting, having a sort of "Jellicoe Road" vibe to it. Furthermore, the last ten or so pages of this book were ABSOLUTELY breathtaking- they were filled with the magic that I had been SO hoping for. They were close, but no cigar, to making me forget about the earlier 320 pages.
All in all, while I think that this book had great potential, I do think that ultimately it was unable to live up to said potential. That being said, that it is not to say that it is a bad book (I do think that it is much better than many YA contemps/ coming of age novels out there), it just wasn't quite able to fill the shoes of its predecessors. Furthermore, despite my complaints, I do now consider myself to be a 'Gayle' junkie and will do anything in my power to get her books in my hands.
I received this book from the publisher to read and honesty review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.