Book Review: Where She Went

Posted December 7, 2014 by Kara in book review / 10 Comments

Book Review: Where She WentWhere She Went by Gayle Forman
Series: If I Stay #2
Published by Dutton Juvenile on April 5th, 2011
Genres: contemporary, young adult
Pages: 264
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

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.

It’s been a really long time since I read If I Stay. I didn’t like it. It’s been so long though, that I can’t quite recall exactly why. I just remember that it was highly predictable. I didn’t feel any tension and I knew the whole time that Mia would be staying. Also that the romance was kind of ugh, especially in the face of Mia losing her ENTIRE FAMILY. So yeah, I never had any plans to read Where She Went and maybe that colored my opinion of the book.

A couple nights ago I was home alone wrapping Christmas presents and I saw a commercial for the If I Stay movie. I love Chloe Moretz in everything she’s done so far, so I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea. I ended up really liking the movie! I noticed it changed a few things but nothing too, too important. Also, film was just a better way to deliver a story that’s written almost entirely in flash backs. But most of all, it made me really, really want to know what happens to Mia after she wakes up. So I immediately downloaded the ebook of Where She Went.

To be honest, this was a mostly enjoyable experience, reading this sequel. It answered a lot of questions I had about Mia’s future. I was a little disappointed that it was from Adam’s POV. But the language used was very easy to read and overall it was just very relaxed. That’s exactly the kind of read I was looking for so I applaud it for that.

However, I still just hate Adam. Maybe this is a reflection of my feelings about the romance in this series as a whole – honestly, there is just SO much focus on the romance when an entire family was killed. But Adam was just so fucking melodramatic and angsty. Of course I understand his anger and his depression. He lost a Kat and Denny and Teddy, too, in that accident. However, I don’t think that THAT particular loss was explored enough. It was all about Mia Mia Mia. She dumped him and he just quit life entirely. Held onto that anxiety and depression for three years. I don’t discount that people that young can feel that strongly and have it be a real thing, but to be into your twenties and still being hung up on a high school romance felt ridiculous to me. It was made worse by the fact that he had a freaking girlfriend. He was just so horrible to Bryn and I didn’t feel ANY connection there at all. It was so unfair and just a really shitty addition to the whole story. Bryn honestly didn’t even need to exist and it probably would have been better if she didn’t.

Now, obviously, Where She Went is about Mia and Adam getting back together. It’s written the same way as If I Stay: alternating between what’s happening over the course of like, a day, and then flashbacks. This time, it’s one night in New York with Mia, and then the years between the two books. I don’t think it really worked in this book. Mostly, it felt like I was reading chapter-long summaries in between short chapters of actually interesting things happening. SO MUCH TELLING. It was insane. Just Adam telling us what happened. I don’t remember if it was like this in the first book.

Also – I just didn’t believe any of it. Over the course of the night, the first time Mia and Adam have seen each other in three years or something, the two have no chemistry. There’s this wall between them, and they aren’t the same people anymore. I actually thought they might not get together because it really seemed like they had apologized, worked it out, and were headed separate ways. Then suddenly, they’re in her house playing music together and then sleeping together and boom, they’re back together. It came out of nowhere. The ending was so fast and so sudden, I had trouble actually feeling any of it.  I will say that I very much enjoyed the last scene, though. It was cute and a little heartwarming if not a little cheesy. I just really, really liked.

The one thing I did like about this book overall was Mia. She changed a lot from If I Stay. This grown up Mia was a lot more confident and sure of herself. Obviously she had to deal with that horrible loss from the first book and she’s had a few years of living on her own in New York and going to Julliard and touring the world. While Adam had fallen apart, Mia had gotten it together. I loved the touches in her home, all the pictures and pieces of her old life and her family surrounding her. There was a small magical realism element here, and they did address the fact that she kind of lived through Adam’s pleading with her to stay. Mia was just great and interesting and I kind of wish this book were written from her point of view.

I didn’t like how this series was written, and again, I’m not a big fan of the romance. I did like this second book better than the first though, so if you’re thinking about continuing on in this series, you should give it a try. They’re similar, but they’re also very, very different. And I don’t think I’m ready to write off Gayle Forman yet. I can see there is something in her writing that I feel like I can sink my teeth into and really enjoy. Sadly, If I Stay and Where She Went didn’t deliver that for me.


10 responses to “Book Review: Where She Went

    • Honestly, he just needed to get over it! If the book had explored his feelings about Kat, Denny and Teddy’s deaths, then it would have been okay for him to still be upset. But he was JUST upset about Mia dumping him three years ago! Time to move on, buddy!

  1. I believe my heart just broke. I actually loved the contrast between If I Stay and Where She Went with Adam taking the focus in the second book. I thought it was really interesting, though yes, he did annoy me at times too. I just felt it was pretty realistic and I’m a sucker for connections between characters made in a short time period. I loved Mia too. I liked how she changed. I liked Where She Went more than If I Stay.
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    • I did really like the changed, grown up Mia, and I did like this book better than the first. I’m really hoping they make it into a movie!

  2. I enjoyed both books, and I really loved If I Stay – the movie. However, there was one big change in the movie, the way Adam never said that if she stayed, he’d even be OK with her leaving him. I’m really wondering how they’re going to pull this off in the Where She Went movie without having everybody hating Mia.
    I think I was in the right mood for all the angst when I read this series, and I really liked that both stories were pretty short.
    At least, you didn’t spend too much time reading it, eh? Not so sure you’ll enjoy the other GF books if these two didn’t do it for you, though, Bekka.
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    • I think they’ll be able to work around it fine. He did ask her to stay, and even without the extra condition of him being able to deal with her dumping him, there’s still plenty of room for her to be angry with him for asking the first place. One thing they changed in the movie was Adam’s family life, which I felt was just unnecessary. In the books, his parents were fine, if not a bit boring, and adding the ‘tragic’ back story really didn’t do anything for the movie. Not everyone who is a jerk has a tragic history and not everyone with a tragic history is a jerk. I do hope that they make a Where She Went movie though.

      I’m hoping that not every GF book is told in a series of flash backs. If so, I might refrain from any of her other works.

  3. I liked this one but not as much as the first one. I felt the first one held emotion and depth but this one was a little lacking in the romance. They were going to get together but it did feel a little forced between two people who had grown apart. I did enjoy them being together in the end but it just felt really different from the flow of the first book. I like the first one better.
    I’m sorry you didn’t really like either book.
    Thanks for the great review though!
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    • I do like them better together than apart, even though there’s a lot about their relationship that irks me. I guess it’s just the cuteness and the swoons that Forman is able to deliver. It’s just a shame that it felt forced. After watching the movie I was really looking forward to that same depth of emotion.

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