Title: Before You Go
Author: James Preller
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release date: July 17th 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA
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The summer before his senior year, Jude (yes, he’s named after the Beatles song) gets his first job, falls in love for the first time, and starts to break away from his parents. Jude’s house is kept dark; no one talks much—it’s been that way since his little sister drowned in a swimming pool when Jude was supposed to be watching her. He was watching her. He looked away for just a moment. He was only nine years old. And he’s never truly grieved for her, or for the emotional deaths of his parents, who refuse to talk about what happened. Seven years later, Jude is finally, finally starting to live. Really live. And then life spins out of control. Again.
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Meh. This book did not work for me, and I think it's mainly because of the narrative. Before You Go has an omniscient narrator. I don't want to judge the book solely based on that, but I'm just not a fan of omniscient narrators. I like first person narrators, and third person limited sometimes works for me too. The closer we are to the main character, the better, and omniscient is just too far outside of my comfort zone. Even if that's not actually the case, this narrative makes it sound like it's all telling and no showing, affecting the style in a way I didn't like. The style is hard to explain, but the word formal comes to mind. It's so far removed from the story, and that made me feel distant from it, too. I feel bad for judging this book on that one choice, but I'm just not a fan.
I felt distant from Jude, and I never felt like I really got to know him. I didn't really think anything of him one way or the other - he was just kind of there, but there's no real personality, nothing I could like or dislike, relate or connect to. Two terrible things happen to Jude, but I didn't get emotional once and couldn't really feel for him. I felt removed from the story throughout, and for me, there was no emotion, despite the emotional topic.
The pacing is a little awkward. Sometimes the book jumps in time, and at other times, it's incredibly detailed, telling you every little thing that happens to Jude in a day. And I didn't care. I know, that sounds so cold and heartless, but I just... didn't.
The romance is also kind of... meh. It's a little like insta-love, even though I'm not sure that's an adequate description. The relationship between Jude and Becka doesn't move too fast; but Jude's feelings develop so quickly, him immediately knowing she's so special, which I didn't see. Becka, too, felt like a flat character, and there was nothing special about her, in my opinion.
Really, that's all there is to it. The narrative and style didn't work for me, making me feel distant and removed from every aspect of the story. Before You Go feels hollow; it just didn't draw me in. Maybe if you don't rely as much on feeling for the main character as I do, this could be a good read for you, but it didn't work for me.
What do you think of the different narratives there are? Do you have one favorite or least-favorite, or do you think each one can work, depending on the story?