Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Maybe some people liked this

Killing time in bookstores usually works for me. However, there are times when I regret ever having stepped in a bookstore one day and going home with a book that I have no idea why I bought at all. And because it's bookstore sale season once again here in Manila, the frequency of my bookstore trips has increased. Most of the time, I leave with a smile on my face, happy to take the books home. Very rarely do I end up buying a book that I would like to fling violently across the room after finishing it. Unfortunately, Gayle Forman's novel, If I Stay, is one such book.

The blurb on the front cover should have served as warning of some sorts. But hey, I liked Twilight (just the first book), so I figured I might as well give this a shot. Plus it's short, so investment on time is practically nil. I figured I'd finish it in two hours, tops. But boy oh boy would I want to have those precious hours back!

I guess my apparent distaste for If I Stay is now very much apparent. The plot is dilute and derivative. Mia, a musically inclined teenager, loses her parents and her younger brother in a freak car accident. She's in a coma herself, after suffering brain contusions, a pierced lung, broken ribs, and what-have-yous. Mia sees her still body in the hospital surrounded by family and friends, and begins to reminisce about significant parts of her life.

Forman adds layer upon layer of cheese to the story. In If I Stay, the circumstances in Mia's life are just too uncomfortably fine. Mia's parents are ex-hippies, so they're very "cool." Mia, a gifted cellist, has a boyfriend who's in a rock band. (I just shudder at the cliché.) Her relationship with her very precocious younger brother is never troublesome at all. There's an attempt to provide conflict when Mia decides to audition for Juilliard. If she does get accepted, she will have to leave her boyfriend and family in Oregon behind. But this sort of conflict is something we've all read before. We just know that it'll work out eventually, no?

It is in remembering these scenes that helps Mia to come to a decision -- whether to continue living, albeit an orphan, or to permanently leave her body and join her parents and younger brother in the afterlife. Sadly, the decision is quite predictable. You'll get to know it at the part where her boyfriend is with her comatose body in the ICU, silently holding her hand. How unimaginative is that?

Read this book if:
  1. You like clichés.
  2. You believe in the power of love (whatever, peanut butter).
  3. Oh, don't bother.


Alexia561 said...

Sorry this one didn't work out for you, but I think that reading bad books make us appreciate the good ones even more! Hope your next read is more to your liking!

Peter S. said...

Hi, Alexia. Yes, it's nice to read a bad book every once in a while.

Stepford Mum said...

Worst read of the year so far then :)

Peter S. said...

Yes, Stepford Mum!

Orly said...

hahahaha! i read this early this year! nagalit ako, hindi sa author. sa sarili ko!!! sa inis!

Peter S. said...

Nakakainis naman talaga e!

trường quốc tế said...

Xin lỗi này đã không làm việc cho bạn, nhưng tôi nghĩ rằng đọc sách xấu làm cho chúng tôi đánh giá cao những cái tốt hơn nữa! Hy vọng đọc tiếp theo của bạn là theo ý thích của bạn!