Author: Gayle Forman
Publication date: April 2011
*NOTE: All my reviews are spoiler free but because this is a review on the sequel, it might provide some spoilers to the first book!!
Where She Went takes place after If I Stay, three years after the accident. Adam’s band, Shooting Star, is racking up the charts with their hit singles and albums—safe to say, Adam shot to super stardom, and having a celebrity girlfriend definitely helps in that department. Mia is a rising star at Julliard and is in New York. One fateful night brings them together again, brought together by their love for music. Set over a 24-hour period, Adam and Mia revisit their past and the unescapable future which awaits them, exploring the city, and open their hearts to each other.
After finishing If I Stay, I knew I needed to find out more on Mia’s story. I came to love If I Stay, so much to my avail I spotted a copy of Where She Went at the library and began reading immediately. There was no way Mia’s story could end, not with how If I Stay wrapped up with such a good cliffhanger. No way. The suspense was KILLING me, and what was a total surprise to me was that Where She Went was told in Adam’s perspective. Eeyup, her former flame, Adam Wilde.
Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
This is one of the few instances where I can actually say I like the sequel even more than the first, and I enjoyed it through and through. Gosh, there are so many reasons why I loved this one more, and what problems I did have with Where She Went were comparatively minor than what I had with If I Stay—so I give this a big thumbs up!
What bothered me about If I Stay was the lack of characterization Adam Wilde was given compared to other characters. To me, while Adam and Mia seemed like a lovely couple, their relationship never seemed to click to me because I just felt like I didn’t really know Adam and I kind of dismissed their relationship as high school fluff. Reading this, I realize that Adam and Mia really do love each other, and it’s undeniable that Adam cares for Mia and in this book, the strong connection between the two is clearly present.
Gayle Forman gives Adam such a distinctive voice compared to Mia’s, so it’s pretty easy to distinguish the character’s POVs. Something about Adam telling the story just managed to keep my attention even more than Mia’s because Adam’s voice was unique and amusing and complex it was difficult not to like him and show compassion towards what he was going through.
Characters are like onions, Donkey, they have layers—and Adam definitely has many. From If I Stay, you do get a sort of rockstar, mannish vibe from him but Where She Went goes deeper than I imagined. Adam is one of my favorite characters, and I was really, really pleased with how well his narration worked.
The setting, too, was nicely portrayed. I love New York and I’m not too far off from it, so I think the way Gayle Forman pictured and showed NY was really nicely done—not perfection, but it has a really good gist on the New York atmosphere, giving a nice adventure-y feel to the book, too.
It’s not too slow-moving, not nearly as much as I found If I Stay to be, but there are a couple moments where I wish the pace could move a little faster or I found myself wondering how some memories mentioned connect to the present chapter. But the plotline really picks up from the beginning, and we have that really big WHAM! moment in a matter of the first couple chapters to swoop readers in. The middle was a little sluggish; the beginning is strong as well as the ending, so that was enough to satisfy.
Overall, Where She Went is an amazing follow-up to If I Stay and I liked it even more than the first! If you’ve read the first book, then I recommend you give Where She Went a try because the story of Mia and Adam simply too wonderful to just ignore. It has its slow moments, but it’s strong with emotion, profound characters, and a really authentic character voice. A definite, definite read for If I Stay fans!
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