Title: I Was Here
Author: Gayle Forman
Length: 8 hours
Narrator: Jorjeana Marie
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Original Publication Date: 2015
Genre(s): Young adult, Contemporary, Fiction
Yep, I’m listening to audiobooks again. After starting a new job, I didn’t know if I’d be doing the types of tasks that would allow half of my focus to be on an audiobook. After being here for 2 months now, and seeing all the various tasks I’d be doing, I realized I could indeed listen to audiobooks while doing some of them. I am actually pretty thrilled to be listening to audiobooks again, which is funny considering I used to abhor them. But they really help the work day move faster, and they boost my reading challenge considerably.
I was about halfway through I Was Here before realizing I already own the physical copy………………
I choose audiobooks based on their length (less than 8 hours), standalone vs series (always standalone), and general interest (basically, I’m interested in it, but not so interested I’d actually buy a copy). So it turns out, at some point in my recent life, I was interested enough in this book that I bought it. I have no idea why I did this and now super regret it. I always would rather read something than listen to it, but because I listened to it, I will 100% never read the physical version. So, there was a waste of $10…
Anyway. Rant over. I promise. I’ll actually get to my review now.
Cody is distraught over the loss of her best friend, Meg. They found Meg in a hotel room, her body full of a rare, deadly poison. A poison that she obtained illegally and secretly. A poison that she drank herself. Cody is not only devastated that Meg is dead, but also furious. Cody was Meg’s best friend. How could Meg be so depressed without ever confiding in Cody? But when Cody finds a strange, encrypted file in Meg’s laptop trash, she begins to think there’s more to Meg’s suicide than her final letter lets on.
If I Stay is one of my most cherished novels I remember reading in high school. It made me cry and tore me up inside. I guess that’s probably why I bought one of Forman’s other novels: to find that feeling again. Unfortunately, I didn’t. I didn’t find I Was Here to be nearly as emotional as If I Stay. But I don’t want to compare the two just because they’re by the same writer. I just mean I had high expectations for this story based on previous experience, but was slightly let down.
The novel is told in first-person from the perspective of Cody, who is reeling from her best friend’s (former best friend’s) suicide. Of course she blames herself. But she wants to blame other people, too. She can’t blame always-happy, always-on-the-go, always-had-a-plan Meg. Meg isn’t the kind of person who would kill herself. So she does some digging—a lot of digging—to figure out just led to the events of that final day.
I kind of found Cody to be insufferable. She’s graduated high school but is ridiculously immature. And kind of has the dumbest ideas. But I guess what really annoys me most about her is that she acts like her friend’s death is all about her. Like other people can’t be sad about it. And I get that grief affects people in all different kinds of ways, and that Cody had a lot to learn and so much room to grow, and that was the whole point of the novel and all, but wow, reading from her perspective was kind of driving me crazy. I just hated how mean she was to people, and in turn expected nothing but kindness.
And of course she had a love interest, but she was even mean to him! Like, ridiculously mean and judging. I don’t know if she ever stopped judging him, even at the end. If someone I barely knew or just met was that horrible to me—constantly—I probably wouldn’t want to be their friend, let alone pursue them romantically. Maybe I’m just a horrible person. Or maybe I just have high expectations? So yeah, I didn’t like Cody much, but I liked Stoner Richard and Ben and Alice. They make the story a little more bearable.
Overall, though, the story was just meh. The writing wasn’t bad or anything. And I could get past Cody’s thickness. But it just wasn’t as enticing or emotional as I wanted it to be. It was an alright story, but I didn’t find myself invested. I didn’t care a whole lot about what happened once they figured out who a certain someone was. It was mostly predictable and just an alright story.
So I would have been glad I’d listened to it, if I hadn’t had already bought it…. But alas, I did, so now I wish I would have read it. I guess what I mean to say is, it’s not an amazing novel like If I Stay was for me, but it’s not a waste of time. I just give it a strong meh.