Review: While I was reading ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes I came across the sequel, ‘After You’ in a bookstore and decided to buy it. When I looked online for reviews of this novel, I was shocked to see the amount of negative comments. One comment on Goodreads stated that you need to read this novel without having an expectation that it would be as captivating as ‘Me Before You’, so it is important to keep an open mind if you plan on reading it. This novel doesn’t necessarily feel like a continuation of ‘Me Before You’ as it explores different themes and the voices of Lou and Josie (Lou’s mother) are quite different in this novel. Moyes is a talented writer and this novel portrays emotions, grief and heartbreak in a realistic way.
I was really interested to see how Lou continued to live her life after Will’s death. I was hoping she would still be an optimistic and cheerful individual who continued to be adventurous and explore the world like Will hoped she would. Instead, in ‘After You’ we meet the new Louisa Clarke, 18 months after Will’s death. She has moved to London, works a mundane job as a bartender in an airport and lives in an apartment that does not feel homely to her. Lou has lost her purpose in life and secludes herself from adventuring outside her comfort zone. So although I really wanted to see Lou living a happy life after Will’s death, it would be unrealistic to expect that she would grieve quickly and then move on with her life as Will had asked her to, “just live well. Just live.”
When Lou falls off a rooftop, (one thing that hasn’t changed from ‘Me Before You’ is Lou’s clumsiness) we are introduced to a paramedic named Sam who is Lou’s new love interest. To be honest, I didn’t really see the ‘spark’ between Sam and Lou. My expectations may have been too high because I know Moyes has the ability to convey feelings and love between characters in such a powerful way (prime example, Will and Lou). Although I wasn’t completely fond of Sam and Lou’s relationship, Sam acts as a voice of reason for Lou and helps her emerge out of her sadness. Ultimately, it is Sam who helps Lou recover from her intense grieving of Will’s death. I appreciate that Moyes kept Will’s voice present in this novel as it reinforced how hard it was for Lou to overcome her grief.
We also meet Lily, who comes into Lou’s life in an unexpected way. Lily is a bratty teenager, who at first, Lou finds very hard to handle, but throughout the novel it becomes clear that Lily has a positive influence on Lou’s recovery and gives Lou a new perspective on life. In my opinion, Lily’s storyline is the most compelling. I appreciated that Lou and Lily’s relationship formed quite naturally and by the end of the novel the two characters had a strong dynamic.
Humour arises in the novel, particularly with Lou’s parents. Josie has ditched her ‘homemaker’ status and starts completing short courses at college whilst on a feminist streak which causes tension amongst the family. Lou starts attending the Moving On Circle which is a support group where she meets other grieving people who have lost their loved ones. Lou initially feels uncomfortable attending the support group but by the end of the novel she feels like she has made a supportive group of friends through the support group. The support group scenes are interesting because they give insight to what it is like dealing with death but there are also many humourous and awkward moments that take place.
It is both a blessing and a curse to write a powerful novel and then write the sequel to it, because people have an expectation that the sequel will be just as good, if not better. If you we happy with how ‘Me Before You’ ended, then I would not suggest you read ‘After You’ as you may be disappointed. On the other hand, if you are curious about how Lou continues to live after Will’s death than I suggest you give it a read!