Monday, December 16, 2013

Series Overview~ If I Stay/Where She Went: Gayle Forman

If I Stay: Gayle Forman 
Rating: 8/10. 4 stars
Release Date: April 2, 2009
Page Count: 198

Goodreads Synopsis: In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heart-achingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make, and the ultimate choice Mia commands

Where She Went: Gayle Forman
Rating: 9.9/10. 5 stars
Release Date: April 5, 2011 
Page Count: 268

It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future-and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

Series: Un-named. If I Stay
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Dutton Books

A series overview is when I go over all the books in the series, in this case two, my feelings about them, and comparisons. These reviews will be longer than normal ones, but shorter than if I was to do two individual reviews. 

Covers-If I Stay (6.5) & Where She Went (9): I am aware that there are two different covers for 'If I Stay', but the one depicted it the one that I saw when in the process of reading. Personally, the cover of 'If I Stay' that I was reading off of, seemed a little plain and boring like there wasn't much going on, but at the same time, it seemed almost symbolic. The little, lone flower on the tree almost seems like Mia, and how she was the only one left out of her family. It's almost like you don't appreciate it until you know get to the end of the book. 
Where She Went on the other hand seemed near-perfect. The girl with the faded blue background. The way the picture was taken, looks like Mia is about to step out of frame, and she's glancing back at her past. It could also be totally random, and I'm over reading a picture of a girl on a book. Because Where She Went was written in Adam's point of view, I almost think that the cover should have been more about him. Maybe not necessarily him in it, but since Mia left and he became famous, he got a little messed up. The only way the cover could be better in my opinion was if it was something really abstract that made you take a step back and say, "What is this?"  

Titles-If I Stay (10) & Where She Went (8.75): When looking at a book, the first thing you see is the cover, the second is the title. It needs to be memorable, either explaining what the story is, what it's about, or something of that sort. 'If I Stay' is such a perfect title that I don't think there could be a better one. Told from Mia's point of view, her entire struggle is her decision of whether to stay in this world, try to survive, and recuperate from the accident. 
'Where She Went' on the other hand is told from Adam's point of view, which makes things interesting and different. He is absolutely heartbroken from the loss of Mia from his life, and has been vaulted into a life of fame and fortune, one he realizes he may not want anymore. It's essentially about his loss, romance, and remembrance of Mia, the title was good, but maybe could have been better if it had focused on his feelings about where she went, and not the words 'where she went'. This would never have worked and they sound ridiculous, but the essence of "Where did she go?" or "How did I lose myself by losing her?" or "Mirrored Losses" would have worked too.

Plot: 'If I Stay' (8.5) is told in first person by Mia Hall, and is the story of her hard decision whether to stay in this world after her entire immediate family is killed, or whether to follow after them. The story goes on for a day, mixed in with memories, and her relatives visiting her. She is a spirit floating over her body trying to weigh the consequences.
'Where She Went' (9) is told in first person by Mia's ex-boyfriend Adam Wilde, and it's his story of how much the loss of Mia affected him, and how messed up he's gotten from the business of being a famous rock star. The night before leaving for his world tour, he goes to see Mia in a concert. That night and the next day the reconnect, trying to decide whether they're together for the last time trying to let go, or whether it's a birth of something new. 
Overall I liked 'Where She Went' better, probably because it was narrated by Adam, and it's a love story mixed in with all of these outside factors. Even though we got to see how Mia thought, and her logic and way of dealing with the accident. I feel that on a scale of emotion that the characters felt that had equivalent ratios comparing losing the love or your life and losing your family, that Adam felt more. Probably all of you disagree with me, but it's my personal opinion.

Emotions: 'If I Stay' (6.5) Sure I felt bad for Mia and all, but it wasn't like I was devastated that her family dies. The relationship between Adam and Mia seems almost strained and unromantic. The sorrow, anger, and troubles didn't feel real. I wasn't yelling "the feels" every time a major story development occurred.
'Where She Went' (10) I felt such a culmination of emotions with this book, from sadness to anguish to happiness and everything in between. I was telling my mom in the car ride to school. "Oh my gosh, what are they going to do?" like the characters were real. I love a good romance and 'Where She Went' is a perfect example of that. When I finished the book I was literally fell onto the ground and fake cried. The dynamics of Adam's and Mia's relationship were so complex, with so much history and baggage behind them. 

Characters & Writing Style: Usually these two areas are separate but for these two books it is very important that they are together because of the extreme problems they go through, and the way they react and deal with them. 'If I Stay' (6) and 'Where She Went' (8) had pretty much the same character and they didn't really knock me out of the water, or stand out like they were holding neon signs.

For being the main character, I didn't like Mia Hall the way I wanted to. I don't know what I was expecting, she lost her entire family, and she was as strong as she could have been considering that, but I just didn't like the essence of her character that much. I loved the little things, like her love for classical music, and different characteristics that made her unique, but I just didn't like how she dealed with things and who she was. It's not that I was expecting to say, "My family is dead, I'm just going to go on living my life the way it was", but I just expected something different.

Adam seemed more like puppy desperate to be played with than a loving boyfriend that needed to see his girlfriend in "If I Stay", and I think that is because it was narrated by Mia. In "Where She Went" I instantly fell in love with Adam and everything he is as a character. His voice has this unique quality I can't quite put my finger on, his different views and opinions are what I enjoyed most about "Where She Went".

The rest of the characters , I liked them, they just weren't that memorable or paragraph worthy.

Ending: The ending to "If I Stay" was a solid 8 because of Mia;s decision to stay in this world, and the events leading up to it. The ending of "Where She Went" was a 10 because it was one of the most amazing ones ever. I loved the way Gayle Forman wrapped everything up, and 20 pages before she did, I didn't even know if Adam and Mia would be together.

My overall thoughts on the series: I really think this post should be longer, but that can't be helped. I would absolutely recommend this series to anyone that wants a good romance and solid plot. I think anyone looking for a good, slight out-there (for the first book) contemporary novel should definitely read this, and the romance is such a plus to it also. 
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