If I Stay (If I Stay, #1) by Gayle Forman
Published: April 6th 2010 by Speak
On a day that started like any other,
Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, admiring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. In an instant, almost all of that is taken away from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left. It is the most important decision she has left. It is the most important decision she'll ever make.
Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting, and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving.
"I realize now that dying is easy. Living is hard."The main reason why I started If I Stay, was because of the movie coming out soon and I wanted to be all hipster and read it before its release. The trailer and its music made it seem as if this was a book that would compel you and would be full of tears, love and friendship. Despite all that, the book actually felt like a beautiful short story that got stretched out and filled up with flashbacks, so in the end it turned into a major disappointment.
There is basically no plot to this book whatsoever. I have my reasons for calling it a beautiful short story before, because it would have been. It could have been so fantastic. The premise of a young girl with such a bright future ahead of her and everything she wanted, struggling with a choice of literally life or death, is beautiful. I'm not saying this because I have written a short story in those terms, but because it totally fitted the first impression I got when reading the synopsis. What seemed to have happened here, was that the author wanted to create a story long enough to get published, and what she did to achieve that, was to write every character's life story. I cannot count on my fingers how much back stories I thought were so irrelevant to the actual plot. I'm sure there are others out there who loved to read them in order to connect with the characters, and it's a shame I didn't. In my opinion they didn't do anything and the utterly slow pace made everything so boring I'm kind of proud I didn't stop halfway through.
When it comes to the characters, they all seemed so realistic because of their back stories. Yet somehow I don't know why I wasn't very interested in their lives. They are ordinary but manage to stand out. They are special in a way that doesn't turn them into perfect characters. It was only Adam and his rock 'n roll lifestyle that was kind of enchanting. He's passionate about what he does, and cares for the people he loves. Adam isn't like any other character in a young adult book, and I really appreciated that. It's also probably because of him I'll be reading the sequel Where She Went. Besides him, I quickly came to the conclusion that the other characters just fell flat. They were a bit too much clichéd for my liking. You have the cute little brother, the best friend who's different because of her religion, the parents you've always wanted to have, etc. Mia was overall an okay character for me, but despite her love for the cello and her ambition, she wasn't as interesting as I hoped she would be.
The feeling I had with the characters in If I Stay is overall the same with the romance. I don't think there were enough scenes in this book that described the intense and passionate relationship between Mia and Adam. There wasn't enough development in their relationship, and had very little content. A perfect romance should have palpable chemistry, something to root for. I didn't find anything here. The cello scene, for example, was plain weird, and totally ruined the romantic aspect of what that scene could have been.
Call it a difference of tastes, but I'm really sad right now that I didn't love If I Stay like everyone else. This book is after all, so praised and called 'heart-wrenching'. In my opinion, it fell flat on so many aspects. I can't do anything else but to call it a major disappointment.