by Gayle Forman
Just One Day duology; book I
Oh boy, it feels like it's been a long road for this book. The amount of hype*, the amount of Audrey-annoyed-ness... but it's Gayle Forman so I had to read it.
This is also another review that I snagged off my "initial thoughts" ramblings on Goodreads. So it's less polished but.. eh. *shrugs*
When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey** first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.
Awww this one made me smile. Mostly.
Let's start with the goods, shall we? The writing and voice were engaging, and I feel Gayle Forman always does well when writing about universal feelings in a connected type of way. I liked that she made the protagonist older, and the way Allyson dealt with her parents and her independence was interesting. Allyson's personal journey was depicted excellently in general; I liked the way Forman focused a lot on self-discovery, and allowing the timeline to make it realistic.
I also adored the small quirky things that made the novel more rich, things like the French lessons, the macarons, Babs, and the part with the watch :)
I had a few issues with the middle chunk of the book: the college experience-- while the feelings I thought were authentic, it skimmed over some academic things (is no one stressed for exams or is it just me?). Apart from Dee, pretty much every other character fell flat and/or were predictable (the "simpering girls" in class part could not possibly be more condescending. I'm judging you as hard as you are judging them, methinks.) The roommate situation felt stale, but more in the "I know what the author is trying to do, but it's not...quite there" type of way.
Who was that best friend again? I forget her name, but she's up there on the "sucky best friends" list.
The last chunk felt rushed and too coincidental, and instead of lifting me inside some type of fairytale adventure, I was kind of bogged down by it.
And lastly, it felt...methodical. Maybe a bit too planned, I don't know why such an aspect is sticking out for me (I know, it's called a plot, things are planned, Audrey you're being ridiculous) but I didn't feel the rush during the "just one day" part, nor did I fall in love with Willem the way I think most readers did.
Nevertheless, despite some of my reservations, I'd highly recommend it. I'll be among the masses of people looking forward to the second part, and I'm definitely looking forward to knowing Willem better :)
Rating in HP Terms: Acceptable
Recommended for: contemporary fans, fans of Gayle Forman and Stephanie Perkins
Acknowedgements: great! 4.5/5
8.3/10 - because while some parts irked me, I did generally enjoy it. I realize now that my review touched more on the negatives than the positives, but trust me, there was a lot of neat things going on that Forman executed wonderfully.
*Penguin is my absolute least favourite publisher in terms of marketing strategies. There. I said it.
**This is a personal opinion, but I really disliked this part in the jacket flap/summary. It made me think as if in everyday life, she went by "Lulu" as a short for "Allyson" and all I could think was "that's the worst nickname ever." (this is not the case, by the way)
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