Sunday Book Club: After You by Jojo Moyes

On one of the 18-hours flight I took last year, I cried all the way – because I watched the movie Me Before You. Well, I do cry easily and I am a complete sucker for these kind of soppy movies, but I really found it so touching and sad. So when I saw that there was a sequel to the book that was behind the movie, I immediately picked it up. I didn’t read the first book, so I don’t know if the book was as good as the movie turned out to be.

In the first book, Louisa Clark finds work as a caregiver for Will Traynor, a cynical former banker who became completely paralyzed by a motorcycle accident. He was cold to her at first but they eventually fall for each other. Louisa finds out that Will want to have assisted suicide and she makes it her mission to change his mind by showing him that life is worth living. However, Will still decides to go through with euthanasia, leaving Louisa heartbroken, as well as bequeathing her with money to follow her dreams and instructions to live well.

**This part of the review consist of Spoilers

In the sequel, it’s eighteen months after the ending of Me Before You. Louisa spent some time travelling around Europe at first, before using the rest of the money given by Will to buy a flat in London. Now, she is struggling with moving on after Will Traynor died, working at a crappy job in an airport bar and going about life meaninglessly.

She accidentally falls from her rooftop one night, and had to return to her parents’ home to recover. Once she has healed physically enough, she returns to London on the condition that she will attend meetings with the Moving On support group. There, she also meets Sam, the paramedic who helped save her after her rooftop fall.

One day, a girl named Lily – a daughter that Will never knew he had – barged into her life, wanting to know more about Will. Louisa feels compelled to help her, bringing Lily to meet Will’s parents; Will’s father has remarried and is expecting a baby, while Will’s mother (Camilla) is still in a dark place and unable to comprehend this new turn of events.

Lily and Louisa has a big fight one night and she throws Lily out of her house. After which, Lily gets into trouble which frightens her from a drug-taking wild child back into the 16-year-old child she is, while Louisa steps in and “saves” her. Camilla eventually bonds with Lily; with a family that loves her, Lily becomes happy and normal again.

Louisa also gets a job offer in New York, which she accepts and embarks on a new adventure, while she and Ambulance Sam tries to work out a long-distance relationship.

Final Thoughts

I really did not enjoy reading this book at all. Perhaps I had too much expectations after how well the first one turned out to be (or at least how the movie turned out to be). This was really sub-par writing; the plot was ridiculous and not interesting at all. I should have known – sequels are rarely as good as the originals, but I never learn.

I was frustrated with how slow the book moved in the initial chapters, then got really angry at how slow the book moved in the later chapters. None of the characters in the book was particularly like-able. Louisa is just a whiny loser in this, Lily is a spoilt brat even given the circumstances, and Sam is just a really boring non-character.

I also really did not enjoy the side pro-feminism chatter added in through Louisa’s mother. I find it very awkwardly included in the book; it had no place in a book like this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against feminism; I find when feminist action taken in the wrong place or in the wrong way actually diminishes and destroys the whole meaning of it.

I wish the author had not written this sequel. I preferred just having it the way that the story ended in Me before You, believing that Lou went on to live out her potential after being changed by Will, rather than like this. I think the sequel totally destroyed the beauty of the first book. If I was sad after the first, I was emotionless after the sequel.

For me, the one good thing about the book was the ending. It wasn’t overly annoying, or ridiculously unbelievable. I’m also glad that it wasn’t as whiny as the rest of the book.

Overall, this is a big let down. I don’t recommend it and I pray that there isn’t a book 3.

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