Friday, December 19, 2014

Review: I Was Here

Title: I Was Here
Author: Gayle Forman
Publisher: Juvenile Viking
Pages: 288
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Format: ARC
Rating: 3 Cows
Goodreads Description:
Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.
After hearing countless people tell me to read Gayle Forman’s “If I Stay,” I was really excited to receive this arc of her book “I Was Here.”  Despite not getting around to “If I Stay” yet, I was eager to read my first book by Gayle Forman.  Whether it’s the movie release of “If I Stay,” or just because she’s an awesome author in general, there’s been a lot of hype around Gayle lately.   
Even though I try to avoid it, I find myself rating a book (for review later on) at random intervals in my reading.  I’ll get to a really good part (or bad) and think, this is definitely 5 cows, I have to give this 5 cows, but then change my mind later on.  Yoyo dieting is a thing, right?  So is there such thing as Yoyo book rating?  If there isn’t, I’m officially making it up! As I was reading Gayle Forman’s “I Was Here,” I bounced back and forth between ratings.  Let me explain.
I know I’m being a hypocrite by saying this, because I typically complain about the start of books being too slow, but I felt like this was TOO fast.  It started immediately with Meg’s death, and memorial services for her.  There was no time to get to know the main character (who is actually Cody, not Meg) and it made for a confusing beginning.  Within the first 20 pages, Cody is already on a bus to Meg’s apartment to clean it out.  From this point in the book stems the main plot and what leads Cody on her ‘journey’ for answers about her friend’s death.  
Another thing I really had an issue with, was character development.  While good for some of the characters (Meg specifically despite her death), most of them just weren’t done well.  I think that’s why I had a hard time liking Cody, because I just felt like there was so much more that could have been done there.  Ben was another one that I felt just wasn’t done right.  I wish we could have seen more of his life or a glimpse into it, because I would have enjoyed his character much more.
It sounds like I’m complaining a lot so far, but now here’s where I list the positives.  I thought the progression of emotions Cody goes through in her grieving was SPOT ON.  The beginning of the book it almost seemed like she was in shock, and then there was a period of denial.  She can’t place her memory of her friend Meg, who always seemed so happy, with the stereotype of someone who’s suicidal or depressed.  She even has a hard time believing Meg’s parents when they tell her Meg went through depression in the past.  Meg had told her it was mono, and Cody believed it.  
I thought the ending was great too!  I really felt for Cody, because she finally starts to grieve at the end for Meg.  Without giving away spoilers, some other really exciting things happen too (GO READ IT!) that I had my fingers crossed for the entire time.  
Does the Yoyo rating make sense yet?  Overall, I had to give this 3 cows as a result.  It was really good at times, but some of the other slow parts made finishing this book hard.  I like Gayle’s style of writing and I might try reading this again in the future, but maybe I’d have more luck with one of her other books?  Like “If I Stay?” I don’t know! What do you guys think? Has anyone read, “I was Here” yet, or another Gayle Forman book that they’d recommend?  Let me know in the comments!



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