“You don’t have to let that one thing be the thing that defines you.”
The follow up to the popular Me Before You, After You explores Louisa Clark’s life after Will. It is eighteen months later and Louisa is still coping with the loss. A number of new people enter her life along with one in particular that she never saw coming.
This is one of those follow ups that I was not really sure about as Me Before You truly stands as a good stand-alone read. I was really curious about what After You would have to offer as there was potential for an interesting story. After reading it, however, it just feels… unnecessary. There is no real progression or building up from the previous book, specifically in relation to the main character, Louisa. In Me Before You she was directionless and unambitious but I felt a certain sympathy towards her and enjoyed reading about her journey. She appeared to experience realizations about life and who she is and how she wants to live and what she wants to do. Her relationship with Will seemingly enriched her and ignited a spark. In After You, all of that is thrown out of the window and Louisa Clark becomes one tedious and unsympathetic character. I understood the challenges of moving on with her life and the difficult grieving process, of course, but as a whole it felt like the character simply regressed and there was no motivation, no desire, no ambition.
“Okay, Will, I told him silently. If this was your idea of pushing me into a whole new life you certainly nailed it this time.”
And that is what it feels like, she is “pushed” into things and there is nothing to show what she wants and what is important to her. Life happens to Louisa, opportunities are presented to her on a sliver platter, and still there is an excuse and a reason why none of it will work. And even when she makes a decision, chooses a direction, it doesn’t feel like she is the one making that choice. Rather it’s through the “pushing” of those around her.
Aside from my frustration with Louisa’s character, I found the story overall to be underwhelming. There are too many things thrown in that don’t flow together and just end up feeling contrived. It doesn’t feel like a natural extension of the previous novel. Me Before You is a good stand-alone read, and I don’t feel that After You adds anything that is particularly captivating or special. Read it out of curiosity but don’t expect the strength or emotion of Me Before You.