Duo Reviews: I Was Here and Ask Again Later // More Disappointing Compared to the Authors' Other Books

Saturday, 12 September 2015
I Was Here, by Gayle Forman
Publication: January 27, 2015, by Viking Juvenile
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 270
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question. I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.

My Thoughts:

Gayle Forman surely once stood as my favourite contemporary author of all time. Now, Morgan Matson and Kody Keplinger have stolen that spot. I Was Here was really disappointing compared to her If I Stay duology which gave me all of the feels and left me bursted with tears that last an eternity. It's a cliché book about a girl who's trying to discover the truth behind her best friend's suicide. And I can tell you straight-on that us masters in YA have seen those kinds of books over and over again, tons of times. It's a knockoff read that just was too bland for my likings.

I Was Here hit me like a bulldozer. And by hit, I mean destroyed me in the worst possible way. Its story had so much potential, as Forman is known as one of the most popular and best YA authors of modern day literature. Her writing usually brings me all of the feels, the intrigue, the superb romance, practically all of those things that gets readers questioning fate and true love. Cody, our protagonist this time around, spends a huge chunk of the novel running back and forth between discovering her best friend's secrets and learning more about the instalove romance that she and Ben have both created, which is kind of forbidden when we discover the truth.

Cody and Meg were best friends. When she discovers that Meg has committed suicide in a motel room while she was in college not too far away from where Cody was, her life falls apart. Going to get Meg's things for her parents, Cody meets some of the people who Meg met and spent some time with, trying to discover the truth behind what led her best friend to practically emotionally collapse.

I would never re-read this book. That's kind of a shocker for me because I feel like I usually do want to when I read a great contemporary-romance, but then again, you've got to keep in mind the fact that this was your ordinary take on suicide and sad stuff. It's not like I'm a cold-hearted reader and didn't feel an achy heart—I did feel sorrow for Cody's sake. But in the end, we never really got to know any of the characters too well because it was either A. about the suicide and computer stuff or B. about the longing attraction between Cody and Ben. I didn't support that too well, either. 

It seems that Forman wanted to add plot twists to make sure readers were still awake in the fictional world she has created. Although I was bored at times, those plot twists kind of jolted me awake and left me hanging while a slower section is ought to come. 

I feel like I practically disliked a lot of the book, but it only feels fair to give it three stars. It wasn't horrible and unbearable, but it was quite a surprise coming from the author who brought me to love books with tough subjects. Gayle still showed her wonderful use of diction and captivation in her writing, but it wasn't enough to get me to fall in love. It does seem that there are many fans of the romance between Cody and Ben, but that's just plain betrayal to me. She didn't know anything about this guy, but went for him anyway, later discovering something between him and Meg. *face palms Cody if I can*

I Was Here has a stellar cover and premise from what the summary tells readers, but it lost that extra touch of Forman. We lose a reader-character relationship with her protagonist, Cody, leaving me wishing that she could've been a complete different character with a different attitude towards things. She's stubborn but overly attached to people she doesn't even know, which is understandable to the fact that she just lost her best friend. But where's everything about the importance of friendship? This seemed more like a mystery than a contemporary-romance, which is what I borrowed this for. 

Publication: March 11, 2014, by HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed

Despite what her name might suggest, Heart has zero interest in complicated romance. So when her brilliant plan to go to prom with a group of friends is disrupted by two surprise invites, Heart knows there's only one drama-free solution: flip a coin.
Heads: The jock. He might spend all night staring at his ex or throw up in the limo, but how bad can her brother's best friend really be?
Tails: The theater geek...with a secret. What could be better than a guy who shares all Heart's interests--even if he wants to share all his feelings?
Heart's simple coin flip has somehow given her the chance to live out both dates. But where her prom night ends up might be the most surprising thing of all...

My Thoughts:

After instantly devouring Czukas's Top Ten Clues You're Clueless, I've been ready to head to the library and grab a copy of everything that Liz has ever written. Discovering that a copy of her debut novel, Ask Again Later, was available, I was ready to jump all the way straight to happiness. In fact, although it wasn't as good as her newest novel, I still enjoyed it and am glad that I had been given a chance to enjoy a bunch of Liz's chick-lit, cutesy romance writing. It was pretty good, after all.

So I've been finding myself reading a lot about prom lately. It's such a cute concept that every teenager goes through, and every teenager has a different experience and opinion of it. And this is all about a young girl's experience that fate would've taken her into: with two different guys, all at the same night. WHO WOULD'VE THOUGHT OF THAT COOL, SCI-FI LIKE, PARALLEL UNIVERSE THING UP IN CONTEMP-ROMANCE?! Not me, that's for sure.

This is about a girl whose name is literally "Heart." And of course, that comes from hippie parents who she'd rather not even mention. She plans to head to senior prom with her big group of friends, playing it casual and having more fun than having to worry about the right colour. But then she gets two surprise invitations and she doesn't want to let the guys: jock or theatre geek, down. So she decides to flip a coin, one guy per option, which then somehow lets her live both experiences/dates in one night. This then begins to get readers questioning where that'll take her when it's time to make the decision.

This is the groovy concept that I've read about in contemporary for ages. But then at the same time, it stands as one of the only positive things that this book left for me. Coin flipping to make a decision is interesting as you can't possibly make up your mind when you're a good person, but then flipping into two alternative worlds is the best thing of all. I loved that. 

It seemed that the actual prom nights dragged on a bit. There was a lot going on before the prom where the different perspectives switched, and then there was a little too much drama that left me rolling my eyes. But then in the end, I guess that everyone'll have a different opinion on how much the actual story interested them in the end. *shrugs* The way things turned out kind of dreaded for Heart, though.

So I can't say that I'm obsessed with any of the romances that Heart had, but there was a little something special with each of them. The mysterious theatre geek and Heart were my favourite though. *dreams*

Ask Again Later has a broad subject that made the story so much better than if it was a typical prom romance about a girl who can't make up her mind. It's not something that'll satisfy every reader, but it certainly does leave an impact and a lot of thoughts about fate afterwards. I'll definitely be reading more book by this author in the future, that's for sure. I love the cover schemes as well!

Is there an author whose books you adored in the past (cough If I Stay cough) but then left you upset over a newer book by them? 


  1. I sort of felt the same way about I Was Here! Like, it was Forman soooo. I should love it, right? I finished it in a day but then ended up changing my rating because I was just SO conflicted about how I felt. I enjoyed it but it really didn't live up to her previous books so that was hard.
    I adored Ask Again Later! I thought it was really fun and unique!

    1. LOL I WANTED TO LOVE I WAS HERE! It's Forman, exactly! I was gearing up and ready to adore it, and then it hit me and I realized that it wasn't as good as I thought! :( Ask Again Later... AGH! But I loved Top Ten Clues You're Clueless! Liz Czukas is hilarious!


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