Book Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Posted March 19, 2013 by Debby in Reviews / 12 Comments

Book Review: Where She Went by Gayle FormanWhere She Went by Gayle Forman
Series: If I Stay #2
Published by Dutton Juvenile on April 5th, 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 264
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased

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.

2 Stars

After the massive disappointment that If I Stay ended up being for me, I was promised, PROMISED I would like Where She Went better. Well. Just like your promises about If I Stay, this sequel wasn’t able to live up to the hype. I apologize in advance for this disjointed review.

I’m not sure when I’ve ever felt more detached from the characters. I don’t know why it happened, but it did, and that keeps me from thinking this is a great story. Adam’s point-of-view was slightly more interesting than Mia’s – and indeed, his character had many more dimensions than she did – but still, after a while, he read as pretty bland, and I felt he was quite whiny about everything, which was hardly justified by his reasoning.

There were more random flashbacks that, to me, added nothingvery little. I know the purpose of these flashbacks – I’m supposed to care more about Adam’s emo period and fall in love with their relationship more, but it just wouldn’t hit home for me. I still don’t buy their relationship – maybe because the build up happened before the actual story and now we just get bits and pieces spread out throughout the series, but… I just don’t.

And another thing I don’t buy is Adam’s sudden fame with his band. Again, I think this is because Gayle skips the build up and then reveals it through these flashbacks. It doesn’t work for me. It’s a method of storytelling that to me is extremely disjointed, and it keeps me from connecting. I would have preferred chronological order.

A nice commenter on my review of If I Stay pointed out that to her the story was very special because she had similar relationships with her parents and siblings, and that really put her into Mia’s shoes. Well, that makes sense. I didn’t have that growing up – and maybe that’s why this series doesn’t work for me. I guess I kept wishing Gayle would manage to put me in Mia (or Adam)’s shoes regardless of that, but it didn’t happen.

The plot of this one couldn’t save it either. I felt like there were so many better ways to tell this story. What would have been more interesting to read in this sequel:

  • Mia’s recovery directly after the first book, from her point-of-view.
  • Mia trying to move on at Juilliard, away from Adam, growing independent.
  • Adam helping Mia in her recovery after the first book, from his point-of-view.

Summing Up:

It’s time for me to really admit, this series isn’t for me. The flashback usage may have been the biggest stumbling block, but it really kept me from connecting to the story and the characters. It also can’t go unmentioned that the whole “out-of-body” experience and near-death experience concept isn’t for me. I kind of had an inkling of it before, but I will probably stay away from the sub-genre in the future.

In Three Words:

Recommended To:

Fans of If I Stay and books like The Lovely Bones.

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12 responses to “Book Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

  1. Okay. I want to write you a love song/apology. I was one of the many who promised you’d like this better. I’m so sorry you didn’t!

    It happens every now and then though, you don’t connect with the characters, and from that point, its hard to rebound. While, I wish you liked it, I do hope you won’t give up on Gayle! I think she is magnificent. But, I will definitely recommend some contemps for you! [NO outerbody experiences included!]

    • Haha, I don’t mind. I think in the end it was slightly better than If I Stay but not by much. Stories concerning death just don’t work for me. Like, ever. Lesson learned though. And Gayle still has me convinced of her talent with Just One Day. I’m glad I read them in this order, because if I had read If I Stay and Where She Went first I may not have wanted to pick up Just One Day at all.

      Thanks for the recommendations again 😀

    • I think you’re right. I didn’t even realize until I was writing the review that that’s what annoyed me so badly. I just feel like it made the story way less effective for me.

  2. No seriously. It’s too bad you didn’t like this series and couldn’t connect with the characters! I think what I loved most was Adam and Mia’s relationship. (The bridge scene and then the scene at Mia’s home made me cry. A lot.) Better luck next time, right?

    ps. I love that your ratings for If I Stay + Where She Went = Just One Day.

    • Those scenes were pretty gripping, but I really felt like the outsider looking in… I was just watching it happen, I didn’t feel emotionally involved at all, though I wish I did. I just didn’t like either character that much, so yeah.

      LOL good point! Though if I could have, Just One Day would have way more stars than five. That book. I just want to hug it.

  3. Debby!!! You are the best. Obviously we were both out doing something fun while everyone was getting assigned the “must love Gayle Forman” gene.

    I finished this last night and I couldn’t agree with you more! I was so detached from all the characters. Yes, Adam was a bit more dynamic than Mia, but not by much. And all the flashbacks! If more than half of your book consists of flashbacks, then maybe you should have, you know, set your book in the past?! Grr.

    • *hugs* I do seriously love Gayle Forman though for Just One Day but this series is so wasted on me. Ugh. It makes me feel awful.

      I’m glad I’m not alone though. I can’t wait to read your review!! AND ABSOLUTELY. If you have that many flashbacks, why not put it in chronological order?? T_T I’m so OCD I just can’t handle that.

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