Review of After You – Book 2 of Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

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In July, I finally got around to reading JoJo Moyes bestselling book Me Before You – see my review here. It was a wonderful read, managing to deal with some hefty issues while avoiding any kind of sentimentality. As luck would have it, Himself had ordered this from the library, so I was able to immediately pick up this offering to find out what happens next…

When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s afteryouright back where she started. Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future.

I’ve tweaked the blurb somewhat, as I’m reluctant to lurch into spoiler territory for those of you who haven’t yet read the first book. Again, Lou sprang off the page as a wonderfully vibrant character, quirky and vulnerable without being overly irritating or victimised. And given she is at a very low ebb at the start of this book, this is harder to pull off than Moyes makes it look. I wondered if she could continue to depict the general messiness of family life, or if she would somehow tidy everyone up, as often happens in fiction.

Lou is certainly taken on an amazing journey – to the extent that I wished that maybe some of the events that seemed to mushroom out of the ether whenever she was around would just calm down a tad. However, I felt one of the huge strengths of this story, was Moyes very accurate depiction of blended families – where a second marriage brings in children from first relationships, and they have to acclimatise to a new parent and often, new half-siblings. But what if they find that adjustment really hard? What if they had bonded with the parent who is now no longer in their lives? What happens to them, then? It’s a scenario that Moyes brings to the fore with chilling clarity as Lily bounces into Louisa’s life.

Once more this book gripped me and wouldn’t let go – and while it doesn’t quite have the emotional intensity or the pitch-perfect storyline and balance of characters that makes Me Before You Moyes’ strongest book to date, in my opinion – this book tucks in to be a very close second. If you’re a Moyes fan and were blown away by Lou and Will’s heartwrenching story and haven’t yet picked up this one, reluctant to venture back into this world just in case it simply isn’t good enough – don’t worry. After You is a well crafted, thoroughly enjoyable and funny read with some sharply observed and very pertinent things to say about modern family life.
9/10

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8 responses »

  1. I have heard about these books, but don’t think they are for me. I am glad to hear this was a good sequel, even though it wasn’t as good as the first book. It sounds like it deals with some difficult topics without getting too heavy. And that sure is an achievement to not have the character feel too much like a victim at a low point in her life. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one! Great review!

    • Thank you, Lola. And if the review gave you sufficient information to allow you to sidestep the book as not one you’d enjoy – then it has also served a useful purpose…

  2. Great review! I didn’t know Me Before You even had a sequel and I have been on the fence as to whether I want to read it because the first book left me having a book hangover but since you enjoyed it, I think I will too 😀

  3. Your words about the sequel not matching the brilliance of the first book made me think, because it seems to be a common case: people often say that about sequels. I can’t help wondering whether it’s because the sequels aren’t as good enough or because we, readers, perceive them as less fresh.

  4. Don’t get me wrong – this is still an excellent read. But you’re right, we have now become accustomed to the quirky awesomeness of Lou. However, the dynamic of the first book is so sharp and brilliantly set up, it would be hard to better.

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