This Review contains spoilers.
“It is important not to turn the dead into saints. No one can walk in the shadow of a saint.”
Series: Me Before You
Published: 2015, by Penguin.
Format: Kindle Edition
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Chick Lit, Adult
Contains: Strong Language, Drugs/Alcohol, Mentions of Suicide, Depression/Grief.
After You is the sequel to the beloved bestseller ‘Me Before You’, which continues Louisa Clark’s life after the death of Will Traynor. At the beginning of the story Lou is working at an an airport bar, clearly unhappy with work and life after Will’s suicide, until an evening where she falls from the rooftop of the flat she lives in. She survives, yet is met with hindering injuries for the remainder of the novel. It’s not what you think, however, her injuries are completely unrelated, and not as severe, as Will’s. This is the initial introduction to “ambulance man” Sam, who eventually becomes Lou’s new lover. Soon after, there is a twist in the tale as a 16 year old girl turns up on Lou’s doorstep, claiming to be Will’s daughter, which both families try to grasp throughout the remainder of the story.
When it was first announced there would be a sequel to Me Before You, I was admittedly unconvinced, believing there to be no more to the story, that nothing could live up to the heartbreaking ending, and unfortunately those thoughts continued throughout After You.
The introduction to character Lily was a huge problem for me in this book, finding her existence completely unnecessary. As someone who believes in Me Before You’s perfection as a stand-alone story, the discovery that Will had a daughter was unneeded. If necessary, there could have been a sequel which worked without somewhat soiling a beloved character from the original novel, and considering this is the main plotline for the story, it was fairly taxing to read.
Louisa Clark is one of my favourite characters, finding her energy, innocence and overall kindness in the first book something that I adored and found easy to read. However, in After You, everything that I loved about Lou was nowhere to be found. Understandably, she was struggling to continue living her life after the guilt of being somewhat responsible for the death of her boyfriend, meaning her struggles with depression were very clear within the book. However, this simply adds to the reason why this book is unneeded. Lou made Me Before You the book it is, her personality being the main reason fans adore this book so much, and by removing this it doesn’t feel like I’m reading about the same characters. Admittedly, I believe this book could have worked as another stand-alone; change the character’s names and no one will be none the wiser.
However, the book wasn’t completely terrible, the introduction to Sam, the paramedic who saved Louisa’s life at the beginning of the book, is the main reason I’m not rating it 1/5. His strength and flirty interactions throughout the sequel brought some entertainment, allowing readers to relax at his presence and take a break from the overall depressing tone.
Overall, for me, Lou’s story ended with Me Before You and although, I adore how flawed she is as a character, it simply wasn’t the same one.