Warning: lots of spoilers ahead
I didn’t intend to read Me Before You since I saw the movie last year, but I am so glad that I did. There was a lot more to the book than what was included in the movie. Usually that can be annoying but in this case it wasn’t. The book expanded on minor characters and plotlines surrounding Patrick, Katrina, Bernard and Josie, and Camila and Stephen, and Will’s sister (yes, he had one!) and rotated between their viewpoints here and there, which we saw none of in the movie. I was pleased to see Nathan’s character was almost exactly the same as he was in the movie, and of course Louisa and Will were spot-on in personality and descriptions.
Something that stood out to me in the book was that more emphasis was placed on the ethics of Will’s decision to end his life. You get much more of a sense of how divided the public is on the rights and “wrongs” of death with dignity, and how strongly Louisa felt about it, too. Louisa received much more backlash in the book for her involvement in Will’s decision than she did in the movie, not to mention how Will’s parents practically had to go into hiding once Will’s decision became public.
In the book, an investigation was opened to determine if Will’s taking his own life was, in fact, murder and Louisa was called to testify. In this sense I think the book was much more realistic than the movie. In recent years there has been a greater public understanding as to why someone with a terminal illness would choose to end their own life, and the very lengthy process they must go through before being deemed an eligible case. Many states in the U.S. have approved laws to allow this, which compared to just a decade ago was not the case. However, Moyes painted a very realistic picture of the fact that there are people who really disagree with it, including Louisa’s own mother, and they are very outspoken about it. Louisa and Will’s parents are the only ones who truly understand his decision, and in the end that is why they are the ones who stand by him.
Now onto After You which was. So. Good. Jojo Moyes said that she had not planned to write a sequel but that so many fans asked her what happened to Louisa after Will that she felt compelled to finish her story, and boy did she deliver. I was hooked from the first page because of how different Louisa was. Obviously going through something as traumatic as witnessing the death of the man you love would change her considerably, but Louisa is almost unrecognizable in the first couple of chapters.
Numb to life and love and estranged from her family, Louisa is living life in a fog. She goes through the motions but she is still reeling from Will’s death and struggling to figure out what to do next. A near-death accident shakes her enough to remind her she still has a whole life ahead of her to live, but that turns out to be nothing compared to the person who enters her life shortly after who proves to be an even bigger surprise than she could have ever imagined. Suddenly Louisa no longer has time to mope and be sad, because other people are relying on her and their lives are quite literally in her hands. I don’t want to spoil this part because it was such a shock to me that I don’t want to ruin it for anyone else. I will, however, share that it brings a whole new facet to the story and that this book is so completely separate from Me Before You that you could probably read it without having read the first and knowing the entire backstory. I would still recommend reading Me Before You first just so you can get a greater context for what comes in After You and because it’s just a great book.
Now I guess I am off to pick up on or more (or five) of Jojo Moyes’ books? I am so impressed with these two that I am pleased to have so many more to choose from now. Have you read Me Before You or After You? What did you think?