ARC Book Review: Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Posted October 9, 2013 by Debby in Book Reviews

ARC Book Review: Just One Year by Gayle FormanJust One Year by Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day #2
Published by Dutton Juvenile on October 10th, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Pages: 323
Format: ARC
Source: Borrowed

The heartrending conclusion—from Willem’s POV—to the romantic duet of novels that began with Allyson’s story in Just One Day

After spending an amazing day and night together in Paris, Just One Year is Willem’s story, picking up where Just One Day ended. His story of their year of quiet longing and near misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson’s own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself.

2 Stars

How do I even start this review? I was ecstatic when Judith told me she would send me her ARC of Just One Year, because it was honestly one of my most anticipated books of this year, after I read Just One Day. I honestly thought there’d be no way in hell that I wouldn’t like this book. When Judith didn’t give it 5 stars, I thought she must be crazy.

I take back my unspoken thought, Judith. You’re not crazy.

WHAT was this book? WHY did it go like this? HOW did Gayle Forman think this was a good idea, that this was the book we wanted?

First things first then, and it really pains me to say this, but I didn’t like Willem’s voice. I know. Your jaws just dropped to the floor. But just honestly. I loved him in Just One Day, he was kind of mysterious and dreamy, and though you didn’t know much about him, you desperately wanted more. Well here we get it. It’s Willem’s point-of-view the whole way through… and it didn’t work. It wasn’t convincing. I’m not convinced Forman can write a believable male point-of-view, since I also didn’t like Adam’s voice in Where She Went. The thing is, it was total wish fulfillment bullshit. All Willem thinks and talks about the whole time is Allyson and how much he likes her, how he can’t forget about her… I’m sorry, but that’s not realistic. He’s a guy. He’s supposed to have some freaking balls. I just… It wasn’t convincing. At all. I wanted substance. But he was just boring. And all the love that I had built up around him in Just One Day was swept away. *sigh*

Added to this personality that didn’t really agree with me, the plotit was so boring. This starts off the day that Willem and Allyson are separated and then covers the year until they meet again. Willem does nothing but pine for Allyson and simultaneously travels to Mexico and India. While in Just One Day, Allyson’s year apart clearly showed a story of personal growth, that wasn’t really the case for Willem. He didn’t grow much, if at all. And it doesn’t help that Mexico and India are definitely not high on the list of countries I want to visit. This didn’t evoke the kind of wanderlust that Just One Day did, at least for me. But anyway, Willem’s experiences in these countries honestly felt like it was just a stall tactic. It was boring. I was just passing the time until he would be reunited with Allyson.

Since this combination of blah main character and blah boring plot wasn’t keeping me entertained, I was already in a rather blah mood and difficult to impress. So things that might not have bothered me otherwise started to bother me. It just seemed like this book was trying too hard. For example, Gayle throws in a bunch of Dutch words at random, to… I don’t know, emphasize the fact that Willem’s Dutch. And while I appreciate the effort and none of it was incorrect or anything, it felt extremely odd as a Dutch reader. Particularly when Willem meets up with his Dutch friends, guys, all in their 20s, and then Broodje suggests making a “borrelhapje“. Here’s a Dutch lesson: anything ending with -je is the diminutive form of the word. It’s cutsey. It’s not something that a group of 20 year old guys would ever seriously say. It sounded extremely awkward. And another thing that bothered me is Forman’s glaring attempts to be “deep”. When you’re in a naggy mood, reading one of her books is a bad idea. Each chapter ends with a sentence that has like a double or deeper meaning. But it just annoyed me. I just felt it was so obvious and trying too hard. Just. No. Ugh. Cue the eyerolls.

The ending

I couldn’t imagine a bigger disappointment. View Spoiler »

Summing Up:

I’ve honestly tried, tried so hard to think of something to name that I liked in this book. But I’m coming up completely blank. Honestly. It may not be entirely bad, but right now, my massive disappointment is overshadowing everything. I mean, I named Just One Day one of my all-time favorite books. And now I’m going to try to forget about this book and just pretend JOD was a standalone. This book added nothing. I would take back reading it if I could. That is honestly how I feel right now.

And I’m questioning whether I get along with Gayle Forman’s writing after all. I’ve read the Just One Day and If I Stay duologies, and of those four books I’ve only liked Just One Day. I’m thinking that was the exception to the rule. And I’m aware this makes me a total black sheep, but you know what? I don’t care. Though I do wonder why it just won’t work for me.

GIF it to me straight!

Recommended To:

People who are more sentimental than me. *mutters*

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15 responses to “ARC Book Review: Just One Year by Gayle Forman

  1. Amanda

    I'm throwing tomatoes at you, Debby. In all seriousness, though, it's nice to see SOME bad reviews on Gayle Forman's books. I was starting to think that they were too good to be true, haha. With that said, I'm not glad that you didn't enjoy it. (That would just be morbid.)

    Maybe Gayle is one of those authors that you just don't 'click' with, if you know what I mean. Either way, it's sad. 🙁
    My recent post Hiatus No More!

  2. Haha, yeah, I feel like there should be some more balance in Forman's reviews, because I HAVE BEEN DECEIVED. *sigh* it makes me wonder if I'm really just that weird or that the people that would agree with me just haven't read her yet.

    I definitely know what you mean, and I think that that's the case. I honestly think I'm going to stay away from her works from now on, unless one of them has a story I absolutely know will work for me. Sad, but whatever. I have other authors I love out there and more than enough books from them to read 🙂

  3. Kim

    I still haven't read Just One Day and I shouldn't have read your and Judith's review for Just One Year, because they are making me less excited for JOD, haha. It does feel like everyone (except you of course) loves Gayle Formans's books, so I'm at least curious to try one of her books myself.
    Those Dutch words would really bother me, I mean just use the right words or don't use them at all. She must have had some Dutch person to check for her, right?!
    Anyway, I would love to read about Mexico so that's a good thing for me.

  4. I saw your Twitter-discussion with Judith, haha. I'm so sorry it was such a disappointment, especially because you loved Just one day so much. I think it's better that I only read that one if I ever have the time :p I don't think every female author is capable of writing a believable male voice and I think you are right that Gayle might be one of them who can't.
    My recent post Review 203. Lauren Destefano – Fever.

  5. Stormy

    Ack, now I'm really nervous for this one! I haven't read Just One Day yet, but I'm looking forward to it. I've not been anticipating JOY as much though because like you, I didn't really think Adam's voice in Where She Went was all that great, and I didn't like that book much on the whole, whereas I LOVED If I Stay. Part of me just wants to read Just One Day and not think of it as a set of companion books at all.
    My recent post Blogging Appeal{Day 8 of the Book Blog Challenge}

  6. Nicole

    Omg Debby I am so scared to read this book. I will because I have to know what happens but I am just so not ready for disappointment. Maybe if I get my expectations so low then I won't be able to be upset? I'm heading that way anyway. It's not Willem's voice I am scared about, or the plot for that matter, it's the ending. I think how I want the book to end is probably how everyone else wanted the book to end and I can gather that the book does not end that way hah. Why, Gayle Forman, WHY?!?!? 🙁 🙁

    *hugs for you*

  7. I had to come see what you thought – I personally haven't read either JOD or JOY yet as I was waiting until they were both out.

    I'm sad you didn't love it, but I felt this way about the Delirum series when that third came out. I wanted every second I wasted reading it back. It sucks when that happens.

    Hope you find something to love next!!

  8. Ooh, sorry that this one worked out so miserably for you! I saw Judith's review, too, and it's really sad to hear that it was such a huge disappointment, especially when you loved the first book.
    I actually find it really interesting to hear that one of the main parts you didn't like was Willem's constant longing to be with Allyson again- I really disliked Just One Day, and one of the main reasons for that was that Allyson just kept going on and on about him, and never moving on even when all the signs showed that really she ought to. I understand remembering that time, and being annoyed at it, but I really didn't like how she would talk about him practically every page. I think I'd find it incredibly annoying that Willem does the exact same.
    Thanks for your honest review!
    My recent post Plotting a Takeover: Character Buys 3.

  9. If you want to read Gayle Forman I would suggest reading Just One Day first because it's the most universally agreeable one… but yeah, I would still suggest imaging that it's a standalone. I don't know how I'm going to get over this sad excuse of a sequel.. ever….

  10. haha, I'm glad you agree with me there, I was scared people would gang up on me for saying that. Yeah, I'd say, don't go out of your way to read this… just… ugh.

  11. I think that would be a good idea, just read Just One Day because I still think that book was really great. It should have been a standalone, if the sequel option was THIS. Ugh. Glad to see someone else who wasn't convinced by Adam.

  12. 🙁 the lower expectations may help. I guess. And STILL I'm pretty much a black sheep here, with plenty of people giving this five stars, so I dunno. At least if you dislike it you won't be alone?

  13. Thanks Jaime! Just One Day really is a favorite of mine so… yeah.. ugh. Oh well. Plenty more books out there to read, and hopefully I'll forget about this one soon. I'm just glad I didn't have to pay for it, because then I would be upset.

  14. Okay, there we go. We've discussed this book already, so you know what I think of it, but here comes the comment that repeats everything anyway: Thanks for not thinking I'm crazy hahaa. I actually liked Willem's voice a lot, because it made his performance in Just One Day so much more meaningful to me. And yes, the plot was boring. I had the same experience with Where She Went but I loved that ending so effing much that I just didn't care. This one, however, just didn't reach its full potential. I'm not interested in Mexico and India either, so I guess that didn't help, but still. The parts in Amsterdam and Utrecht didn't really convince me either. I really want the Dutch words to go away, because they sucked. The one that annoyedme most of all was towards the end of the book when they randomly changed woman to vrouw. That's not even a Dutch saying or expression that needs translating! So weird. And the ending will forever disappoint me. I'm just sad because I was SOOOOO LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS and now I don't even know if I will love JOD as much when I re-read it 🙁 I hope I will still love it, because else one of my favorite books ever is just ruined. Sigh. Anyway. Peace out.
    My recent post Mini review: Arclight

  15. I really really wanted to read this book but your review and Judith’s too made me think about pre-ordering it again and I will wait till it is cheaper for Kindle because I want to read it but I am not willing to pay a lot for a book two bloggers whom I trust did not like that much.