24 January 2013

Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Just One Day (Just One Day #1) by Gayle Forman

Published: 8 January 2013 by Dutton Juvenile

Pages: 368 (hardcover)

Genre/s: YA, Contemporary

Source: Own library

Synopsis


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.

My Thoughts

I was so excited about Gayle Forman's newest book that I turned into something of a stalker.  I entered every giveaway I could find, nearly broke my mouse requesting e-galleys and finally ended up pre-ordering on Kindle (which I nearly never do) to make sure I could get my copy as soon as humanly possible.

If you think this is leading up to the bit where I say that Just One Day didn't live up to my lofty expectations, you're almost right.  The first 30% or so I was so completely underwhelmed and disappointed I actually contemplated throwing it back on the shelf (metaphorically speaking), and pretending the whole thing never happened.  But I stuck with it, and I'm really glad that I did.

My first issue was the characters.  I get that Allyson is supposed to be a great example of what breaking out of confines can do, and growing up is hard and learning to be yourself is important, but I actually didn't like her as a character.  I found her whiny, negative and quite boring to be brutally honest.  I also didn't get the attraction to Willem - I'd built this book up in my head to be an incredibly romantic story with a swoon-worthy lead, but he just didn't work for me.  And when Allyson returns to the US and college, I literally wanted to reach through the pages and slap her.  Yeah, this was an adventure, kinda romantic and completely out of her comfort zone, but she was so fucking mopey.

But once I got past the day in Paris and the mind-numbing my-life-is-shit attitude, I really really enjoyed Allyson's coming-of-age - shrugging off the expecations of her parents, learning that things cannot always stay the same, finding her own passions and doing things outside her comfort zone, all of which made her a more likable character.

I loved the travel aspect, particularly some of the final stages of her trip, and her determination to find the answers to the questions that had been driving her crazy over the past year.

So in the end, Just One Day redeemed itself for me.  We had a rocky start, but I'm definitely looking forward to reading Just One Year.

7 comments:

  1. Oh no! Great expectations strike again! Sad day.

    Ha, I know what you're saying and that seems to have been the experience of everyone going in for romance. For me, I didn't really read it as a romance. Yes, I do think Willem's swoony, but in a maybe a one night stand isn't such a bad idea way, not in an epic love kind of way. He's just hot and knows Shakespeare.

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    1. Maybe THAT was what I missed, the whole Shakespeare thingy ;-). Ah well, I didn't detest it, it just took so long for me to feel like I was really enjoying it. I did like how Allyson changed and faced her fears, in that respect it was great.

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  2. Oh no! I hate it when you have really high expectations and the book completely lets you down.

    I really really loved this one. I mean when you step back and think about it, her pining for a year after a one day tryst doesn't sound like it makes much sense but for some reason it just worked. Hopefully you'll still give Just One Year a try!

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    1. Will definitely be trying Just One Year - maybe it will help me appreciate Willem a little more!

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  3. Hmm, now being that you and I have very similar taste in books, I'm really glad to hear that Just One Day isn't the specimen of near perfection that everyone else claims it to be. I guess it all comes down to that connection to the main characters--- if you're not buying it, then what else is there? I mean, a great setting can only redeem it so much. I'm still very intrigued to see what all the fuss is about but now I might put a few other NEED TO READ RIGHT NOW books higher up on the list. Thanks for the honesty, lady! That's what I love about you!

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    1. It's not a bad book by any means, and I can completely appreciate why so many other people love it. But when it's so dependent on feeling love for the characters, when the love ain't there, it's not nearly as enjoyable to read.

      The travel is fantastic however - although I may be biased some of the setting is familiar to me, and I love when I can imagine it in my mind - and Gayle Forman knows her stuff!

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  4. Very objective review. At least it wasn't a complete flop for you.

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