Thursday, January 26, 2017

Book Review: Before You Go

By Becky Gulc

‘When Zoe's husband Ed dies, her world caves in. But what if Zoe can get Ed back?

You find your soulmate . . .
Some people stare love in the face for years before they find it. Zoe and Ed fumbled their way into adulthood, both on different paths - but always in the same direction. Years later, having navigated dead-end jobs and chaotic house shares, romance finally blossoms. Their future together looks set...

Then the unthinkable happens.
One morning, on his way to work, Ed is knocked off his bike and dies. Now Zoe must find a way to survive. But she's not ready to let go of the memories. How can she forget all of the happy times, their first kiss, everything they'd built together? Zoe decides she has to tell Ed all the things she never said.

Now it's too late. Or is it?’ (Synopsis courtesy of Pan MacMillan.)

You can tell from the synopsis that Before You Go is going to be a bit different. To enjoy this you’re going to have to be open to a book which has a time travel/paranormal element. I haven’t read a book like this for years so I welcomed something a bit different, but would I enjoy it?

We know from the out-set of the novel Ed has sadly been killed after an accident on his bike. We quickly learn that whilst Ed and Zoe may well have loved each other dearly they didn’t always like each other, and quite frankly they were not going through a great spell when Ed is taken from her. This is a couple that always wanted to be together but on the major things in life, like marriage and children, they were never on the same page, cue a range of relationship difficulties. With Ed gone Zoe is racked with guilt and tormenting herself with what-ifs, if she had been more open to certain things, less insistent on others, would the outcome still be the same? In this book, we find out.

Something happens which leads Zoe to relive pivotal days in her relationship with Ed, from when they first met right through to the day he dies. The reader is enlightened as to how the day panned out the first-time round, and how it does this second time round with Zoe keen to try and change things that she regretted whenever possible.

Overall, I thought this was a good debut novel. I thought the writing was largely excellent and flowed well and I loved how different the book is from what I normally read. I certainly read this book quickly and I was spurred on to see if Zoe could indeed change what happened to Ed by revisiting the past. I also enjoyed getting to know more about the couples past and how they got to the point of difficultly around the time of Ed’s death.

The frustrations for me were tied to some repetition at the end of each chapter about Zoe’s hopes. I also didn’t warm to the characters for a while, to be honest, but they seemed very real; a flawed relationship like many. I also consistently had it in the back of my mind about whether Zoe was just dreaming and whether the book was just going to end on a cliché. Sometimes I wanted to see Zoe change some bigger things in the past too, be more open with her loved ones, in my head more than once I was thinking ‘why doesn’t she just…’ but I just wanted this part of me to shut up and enjoy it for what it was!

Whilst I read the whole book fast I plowed through the last chapters, when it came to revisiting Ed’s final day again I was on such tenterhooks and it didn’t disappoint really in terms of being emotional and fitting. I was keen to see if Ed could survive and how Zoe revisiting the past would be explained.

Overall, I would say I was satisfied with the ending. It was what I would hope for although it did still feel a little bit of a cliché in parts, but forgivable all the same! I’d certainly recommend this novel and I look forward to reading more by this author.

Thanks to Pan MacMillan for the book in exchange for an honest review. Visit all the other stops on Clare's blog tour.