If I Stay by Gayle Forman
This tearjerker romance was a decent YA novel–not great, just decent. It’s a definite heir to the Lurlene McDaniel “dying teenagers” genre, and it doesn’t do it as well as other books I’ve read recently. If the worst thing you can say about a YA romance is that it’s flat and predictable, instead of saying that it’s trying too hard to be sexy, poorly written, or outright offensive, you’re doing ok.
I found the characters rather generic. Not clichéd, really, just faceless and bland. It seemed as if Forman had thought of the situation first–girl in coma has to decide to live or die–and then populated it with characters that she proceeded to imbued with various traits. The dramatic situation did not arise naturally from the characters’ personalities. That may be the nature of the situation described–a horrible car accident can happen to almost anyone. I also didn’t think there was really much doubt that the main character would choose life and pull through, and hence no real dramatic tension. And of course I knew there would be some kind of big spectacle of a grand romantic gesture, especially since the boyfriend character is a musician (of course he’s a musician).
The novel has a sequel, which will probably deal with the main character’s grief and recovery, and with the lingering questions over her relationship with her boyfriend and the directions in which their separate musical careers seem to be taking them. Because I’m interested in what a YA romance would say is a happy ending for that kind of relationship problem, I think I’ll pick it up.