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Not even close to being a tear-jerker
am 2. Januar 2015
In "Me Before You" by Jojo Moyes, Louisa Clark loses her job at a café and takes on a new one as a carer for 35-year-old William Traynor who's been in a wheelchair for two years after a motorcycle accident. Little does she know that taking care of Will will be way more time-consuming than any other quadriplegic: he's a raging cynic and does everything in his power to get rid of her.
This is your classical Wuthering-Heights-Style taming of the beast story and I really should feel cheated by Moyes. But she renders it possible that instead of rolling your eyes at the obvious blossoming romance the reader is forced to actually think about the situation Will is in by intertwining a clever, yet sad, side-plot that gives the whole story a bitter aftertaste.
To me, this isn't even a romance. The characters have little to no personal interaction on an intimate level for 3/4 of the novel. To be honest I also think that Will and Louisa have absolutely no chemistry. While I do understand what they see in each other (In Louisa: Something quirky and different, a new chance at being happy; In Will: Inspiration, somebody who truly cares about her), they only work as a couple in theory. I'm not sure whether this is due to Louisa's naive nature or due to bad research, but had they have gotten a chance at a longterm partnership, I think she would have at least thought about the fact that her beau is paralyzed for one second for Christ's sake! You can play understanding all you want but I'm pretty sure that no healthy human can possibly get what Will is going through and willingly be a part of this while knowing he just wants to die.
Louisa is in general very childish for being 27-years-old and at times I had the notion I was reading about a YA character instead of a grown woman. Considering the financial crisis her family is going through, it's a bit contraproductive to stay at their house and put a little money into the bad-times-jar. Every single one of her actions in the novel is questionable and yes, you might argue that it's because she's oh-so-quirky, but come on. Being with a man that you neither find attractive nor give a flying cow about for seven years? Come on. Moving into your work place after about three months?! COME ON. Sleeping next to your boss in his bed on your, like, third work day? Dude. For real? To top it all off, getting completely smashed at your boss' ex' wedding, taking into consideration that you're alone with a guy in a wheelchair that needs medical care?!! She's completely irresponsible.
Will on the other hand is a spoiled know-it-all brat that just wants to snap his fingers to get out of his wheelchair and walk again. He's used to getting all he wants, which is shamelessly stated multiple times in the novel and now that Mommy and Daddy can't buy him a new body, he just wants it all to end. Maybe I'm being harsh, but he's such an unlikeable character and goes through so unlikely character development that I can just shake my head. There's nothing loveable about a guy that can't keep up an appropriate employer/employee relationships the proper way, rejects everyone that loves him and pretends to have mental problems in order to get rid of people. He's overdramatic, he's cynic to the point that it becomes childish again, and he's a stubborn brat. Their romance solely (to me) bases on outer appearance and instant-love, which just makes me want to punch a wall. (Characters 1/5)
For whatever reason, Moyes has built in random shifts in perspective to random side characters. This isn't only utterly useless, a) because we could have guessed the supposedly slipped-in information ourselves at some point and b) it completely throws the reader out of the current storyline. Because Moyes is such a good writer and so talented with specific character voices I actually got sad when those characters only had one chapters on their own. I'm not a fan of POV changes that aren't necessarily needed and I'm very surprised that the editor didn't kick those chapters out. In general this novel is way too long for the little plot it has. (Writing 2/5)
The story is brought to life by the different situations the side characters are in and their lives seem even more interesting than Louisa's and Will's oh-so-dramaticly-tragic love story: His ex-girlfriend Alicia who married his best friend who's significantly less attractive and intelligent than him; Her sister Katrina who's got a child and decided to go back to university; His new-zealand carer Nathan who met fellow new-zealand Karen during their vacation and started dating her; Her neighbours who are going to couple therapy and constantly yelling at each other, practicly on the verge of a divorce. I'd rather have read about any of these people than Louisa and this should never happen. The reader should never think that the author chose the wrong protagonists. Especially not when they have quite the uncommon storyline. Still, it's not interesting, it's boring and surprisingly every-day-ish. (Plot 1/5)