Book Review: If I Stay

Apparently Gayle Forman’s novel If I Stay was published back in 2009. However, it caught my eye in recent months as it climbed atop all the bestseller lists. The resurgence in popularity is thanks to the novel becoming a movie, starring Chloe Grace Moretz and premiering August 22nd.

I have mixed reviews about the novel. I know I should pick a stance and tell you to either read or to stay away – pun intended. Then again, I’ve never been known for my decisiveness. I am a Libra, after all.

For starters, here’s a brief synopsis: After an accident, seventeen-year-old protagonist Mia must ‘decide’ whether to live or to pass on.

Told you the synopsis would be brief. Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler alert – the ever-so-trusty back of the book sa41rEe4pc3yL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ys essentially the same thing in more words.

The concept of the novel is certainly refreshing. The structure is enjoyable as well, as the narration switches between Mia before the accident and Mia in the hospital as a ghost-like figure. However, I find that If I Stay lacks depth. I read the book on my Kindle, so I couldn’t physically see the length of the book. As I sat by the pool on day two of reading it, I had to make sure my device wasn’t malfunctioning when I abruptly reached the end. It felt like I had just started to reach the meat of the story and then it stopped!

I have since discovered that there is a sequel… perhaps the two should have been combined. The movie version is definitely going to have to take a lot of creative liberty to make it long enough for a feature-film and keep audiences on the edge of their seats.

I don’t mean to knock the novel entirely. In fact, I actually did enjoy reading it. It was a quick read (not just because of its barely-there length) and easy to follow. It definitely kept my interest while I read it, but once I reached the end I was disappointed to find that the action I had been anticipating didn’t really exist.

I would recommend If I Stay to someone who wants a short and swift book, like for a train ride or a day at the beach. It’s different than your typical “teen” type book and still feels appropriate for a twenty-something like myself. It may also be a tearjerker for some people, although I think my own tear ducts were on strike after The Fault in Our Stars.

All in all, the If I Stay movie may end up being the first film-version I prefer over a book, but I don’t feel like I wasted my time reading it by any means. Take from that what you will.

Will you stay or will you go?

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