Monday, July 16, 2012

Review: Before You Go by James Preller

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Before You Go
James Preller
Release date: July 17th 2012
by Feiwel & Friends

 

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, and no one talks much—it’s been that way since his little sister drowned in a swimming pool seven years ago when Jude was supposed to be watching her.

Now, Jude is finally, finally starting to live. Really live. And then, life spins out of control. Again.

*A copy was provided by Raincoast Books for review purposes*

With under 200 pages, Before You Go is a relatively short novel that is a breeze to get through – even moreso because of its short chapters. This is what I’m giving credit for the 3 stars. It’s not a contemporary that impressed me per say as it lacks depth, characterization, and the writing is awkward. Since it’s such a quick read, however, I didn’t get the chance to grow tired of it, nor can I say I downright disliked it.

In a few short words, this novel is about nothing. Jude still blames himself for his sister’s death, he’s simply living one day at a time, then he meets a girl. The book begins on an incredibly intriguing note with its somber prologue. I found it actually sets the wrong tone for the book. It gives the wrong impression of what type of vibe we’ll be getting from the story. What we get after this grim, suspenseful prologue is Jude’s normal, every day life. He goes to work, meets a few people, falls in love; a very mundane teenage summer. When we finally get to the climax built from the prologue, I won’t say it was emotionless as I felt a few pangs of sadness from the ordeal, but the passion was missing. The consequences are over very quickly; I didn’t get to experience Jude’s distress, nor did I peer at the mental ramifications of it all. A lot of emotions are simply missing from this novel. I’m not sure if it’s the characterization that didn’t click with me, or the writing that caused it.

The writing style may be lyrical, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. With innumerable pop culture reference, bizarre jokes, and awkward, sometimes puzzling, analogies, I had a very hard time really getting into this book with any sort of emotional attachment. Plus, I wasn’t ever sure what the plot was really about; the whole point of the story is still lost on me. Jude is in a rough patch in his life where he’s just dealing with everything that’s been building up over the years. This is clear within the first few pages, but where does it go from here? Does he have an epiphany that changes his way of thinking? Does he stumble upon a self-realization that finally opens him up, lets him deal with his closed up emotions, and move on? Both of which I expected, neither happened. I was really left confused at the end by the non-existent plot.

Jude is a very average character. He’s likeable and genuine, though I can’t say I was especially enamored with him, nor did I get a feel of his inner demons. I guess you could say I felt distant from him. This could be due to the methodical telling. For example, the constant use of “Jude” instead of “Him, or he” kept pulling me out of the story. OR, and this is probably more likely, it may be because of its omniscient point of view. I don’t find I have a preference over first or third person, both have been used very effectively, but the all-knowing style in Before You Go kept me at arms length. The secondary characters in the book, though stereotypical and not especially developed, are surprisingly fun characters with charming personalities that I really enjoyed. The romance is sweet and rough – very typical angst-ridden teen romance.

Even though I didn’t love it, it’s not a write off either as it kept my intrigued attention. A fairly short novel written in a male perspective that, if only you’re able to get a deeper connection with, I’m sure you will find it involves an array of raw emotions that may make this a memorable read.  

3 Hot Espressos
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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27 Responses to “Review: Before You Go by James Preller”

  1. Nick

    I can’t really say that I was interested in reading this book. Nothing about it really caught my attention, but since it’s a very short book, I might give it a shot some time. I don’t like strange writing styles either. I like the writing style to be simple, but that flows beautifully. Still, I’m glad you didn’t dislike the book.
    Lovely review as usual, Giselle ! 🙂

  2. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Hum. A story about nothing…just life. Sounds like the author was trying to be literary or something. I much prefer a twisty-turny plot or at least great character development so I can develop an attachment.

  3. Mel - Thedailyprophecy.

    Thanks for the honesty. I can see that this is not something for me, so I’m going to leave this one. I must say that the book wasn’t appealing to me at all and now I’m sure of it 🙂

  4. Danny

    Despite your 3 star rating I do not think that this is a book for me… it sounds rather flat and your first comment: “In a few short words, this novel is about nothing” made me laugh :)))

  5. Amy

    I’m glad that this was short enough that you didn’t get bored of it, but it’s a shame it was just okay. I almost got this one from Netgalley, but decided against it. Great review chicky!!

  6. Alexa

    Interesting. I’ve seen this book around and been only mildly curious about it. The summary makes it sound so interesting – but it’s sad that you weren’t able to connect to it.

  7. Katie @ BlookGirl

    I was really looking forward to this one and am disappointed to hear that it doesn’t really have a POINT. It sounds like this book had a TON of potential that it didn’t quite live up to.

    I may borrow this from the library or a friend, as I’m not sure I’ll like it any more than you did, having read your review.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, muffin! <3

  8. ❤ Vivian

    This was a great review, Giselle! First time seeing this one…I’ve had a fair share of books about “nothing” myself. Yeah, they weren’t too pleasant. I also hate overuse of pop culture references :/ it’s a very fair point. If an author should use it, use it well, or else the connection between the writing and the reader would be gone. I guess this one just sounds way too normal o_o

    Vivian @ Vivaciously, Vivian

  9. ❤ Vivian

    This was a great review, Giselle! First time seeing this one…I’ve had a fair share of books about “nothing” myself. Yeah, they weren’t too pleasant. I also hate overuse of pop culture references :/ it’s a very fair point. If an author should use it, use it well, or else the connection between the writing and the reader would be gone. I guess this one just sounds way too normal o_o

    Vivian @ Vivaciously, Vivian

  10. ❤ Vivian

    This was a great review, Giselle! First time seeing this one…I’ve had a fair share of books about “nothing” myself. Yeah, they weren’t too pleasant. I also hate overuse of pop culture references :/ it’s a very fair point. If an author should use it, use it well, or else the connection between the writing and the reader would be gone. I guess this one just sounds way too normal o_o

    Vivian @ Vivaciously, Vivian

  11. ❤ Vivian

    This was a great review, Giselle! First time seeing this one…I’ve had a fair share of books about “nothing” myself. Yeah, they weren’t too pleasant. I also hate overuse of pop culture references :/ it’s a very fair point. If an author should use it, use it well, or else the connection between the writing and the reader would be gone. I guess this one just sounds way too normal o_o

    Vivian @ Vivaciously, Vivian

  12. Camille Picott

    Hmm. Based on your review, this doesn’t sound like my cup of tea. I do like omniscent POV, but it’s very difficult to pull off well (and one of the most difficult POVs to write, IMO). I find it works best with humorous novel. Neil Gaiman writes great onmiscent.

  13. Mimi Valentine

    Sometimes I love short books because they’re so easy to fly through and you never really get bored during them, but other times I wish that there was more to them. It’s too bad that this one falls into the latter category! It sounds like this one has a ton of potential except it was cut short. But a male POV is always a plus, right? :’)

    Thanks so much for the amazing honest review, Giselle! <3 Even though this wasn't your book, I'm glad you didn't outwardly hate it 🙂

  14. Karen

    “In a few short words, this novel is about nothing.”

    I keep seeing this complaint about this book. Meh. I’ll still give it a try just because I already have it reserved at the library but my expectations are way low.

  15. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    I love really short reads, but ones that have a point. I feel like this one would feel draggy to me, and I’m happy that I read your review before coming across it on my own. It’s too bad it didn’t have to just a bit more substance to push it up a little more. Glad you still enjoyed it though!

  16. Shooting Stars Mag

    Thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate that you explain what didn’t really work. It sounds like it would be a much more intense type of read than it was, so I think I’d have to pass. Love his name though.

    -lauren

  17. Aneeqah

    Hmm, very interesting. I don’t think I’ll be picking this up, even though you necessarily hate it or love it, Giselle. Plot is super important for me, as are characters. Since this book basically has no plot whatsoever, I highly doubt that I could even finish it. And the characters seem like they’re…bland. I like my characters to be unique, and I also like to connect with them as well. It seems like that didn’t happen with you, Giselle.

    Thanks for the honest review! <3

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

  18. Jen

    “This novel is about nothing.”

    Yes. THIS exactly. This book made me sad because of my high hopes, but it was an utter let down.

  19. The Teen Book Guru

    HI GISELE!! I’m back!! How are you?? 😀 OMG I see you’ve crossed the big three already??? *happy dance* CONGRATS!! I’m going to bake a cake!! Huzzah!! XD Sorry to hear you didn’t really like this one that much… my review copy is still in the mail and I can’t wait to read it even though now I’m a teensy bit worried. The premise seems interesting, though!! I totally agree… short books are really hard to get into. I can’t remember the last time I felt really emotionally attached to one. O.o

    Fab review, Gisele sweetie! <333

  20. Sam

    Great review, Giselle. I didn’t really have much of an interest in this book and still don’t think it would be my cup of tea. That’s not to say I wouldn’t give it a go as a library read or something. For something so short, I suppose it could have been worse. It’s a shame it didn’t blow you away though, but thanks for the helpful review! 🙂

  21. Rebecca - Kindle Fever

    Aw, that sucks that it felt as if it was about nothing. I’m actually picking it up tonight, so I hope I’ll feel a little more from it… :/ I hate when I’m feeling distant from a character too, so you’ve made me a bit worried! I’m glad it still seems to have been an okay read though. Great review!

  22. margie c {the bumble girl}

    “In a few short words, this novel is about nothing.”
    You reminded me of the show, Seinfeld – and even though the show was based on the nothing’s of life, it was funny. I’m sad to hear that this book fell short in more ways than one. I may read it if my library has it.
    Thanks for you awesome review, Giselle!