Soon after reading Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver I picked up Forman's If I Stay. I found both books had similar themes of resurrection and death. The most glaring difference, for me, was personalities; Sam Kingston was a follower and her focus was on popularity~she does grow as she tries to fix things in her life.
If I Stay's main character, Mia was lovable just as she was~she grows as she learns to live without her family. Her life was lovely; she had funky and interested parents, she was a talented cello player and had a funny and supportive best friend. And the boyfriend, Adam, just as lovable as Mia but scruffier.
Mia chose life in If I Stay and this second book, told through Adam's perspective, tells us about his journey without her. The band he plays in, Shooting Star, has taken off and he and the band are playing big shows with groupies and fans trailing after them. He always wanted to make it big but it isn't what he expected at all because now it's not really about making music and getting their groove on; it's a show and it's bigger than them. His band has always been like a family and now they are broken pieces linked but not happily. He is popping pills and smoking cigarettes just to make it through the day.
One night in NYC Adam is out wandering the streets and passes by Carnegie Hall as people are going in for a performance. It just so happens that Mia is playing and he buys a ticket. Through word-of-mouth Mia learns that Adam (he is a major rock star now and recognizable) is in the audience and sends for him at the end. They meet and talk for a few minutes and it doesn't go well. Adam has all these things he wants to say to her and they just don't come out. He wants to know why she let him go, why she stopped answering his emails and taking his phone calls. Adam leaves Carnegie in frustration and Mia follows him and tries to talk more. The second half of the book recounts this night together as they argue and slowly come together over what happened when Mia's family died.
I liked this one but I missed Mia's eclectic parents. In the first book you get a real sense of family from them; a coziness and in this one we meet Adam's parents and while they are both there they are not as interesting as Mia's were. I loved Adam's interaction with her family and it added a lot to the characters. Listening to Adam and Mia's dad talk about music helped us get to know Adam. He wasn't just a guy playing in a band-he had potential.
We do get to hear all about Shooting Stars rise, crash and rise to fame again after Adam has a writing epiphany. We get to understand why he's been in crisis and I was a bit bummed his band didn't understand this more. His story was interesting but it got much more exciting once Mia and he were talking-even if at times I found it frustrating and wanted to talk for them!
Both these books are worthy and I like that it is a two-book set and I haven't heard anything about another one. I felt the ends were tied up nicely and I could let them go. And they made me weep!
Read my review of Lauren Oliver's Before i Fall.
Reading Rants reviews Where She Went.
Here's a trailer but I wanted Adam's voice to sound different.