Book to Movie: If I Stay

There was a lot of buzz leading up to the release of the If I Stay movie adaptation and I kept seeing posts about it all over various social media sites. I really enjoyed reading If I Stay and Where She Went a few years ago so I was curious about the movie but I was fine with waiting. It was released in Singapore in early September and I got to see it last Saturday. I wanted to share my thoughts about the film, mostly in relation to the book and how I felt while I was watching it.

If I Stay movie

With Gayle Forman as an executive producer of the film, If I Stay remained true to the book. Granted, it’s been some time since I read the book but all of the major scenes that I remembered seemed to be in the movie as well. I felt like the movie had the same bittersweet tone and feel as the book, where it lets you experience the emotional ups and downs with the characters. In terms of casting, I think the actors that they chose were a good fit for the roles. Whenever I read, I don’t really get into specifics of what the characters look like and I tend to focus on the emotions they feel instead. So I’m not very particular with appearances when it comes to casting choices. This is the first time I’ve seen a movie with either Chloe Moretz or Jamie Blackley so I have no preconceived notions about them. Overall, I think Chloe did a good job of portraying Mia although I felt that she wasn’t as strong as I would have liked her to be in her emotionally heavy scenes. In some of her interviews, she mentioned that she’s a fan of the book and I think that’s a plus point for her. Jamie was also a good Adam, he was able to exude that rocker guy vibe. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that he also did Adam’s singing voice in the movie and he really knows how to play a guitar.

One of the things I really liked about the book was that it wasn’t just about Mia and Adam, it was also about their friends and family. The movie made this come alive too, and I have no complaints on the casting of the secondary characters. One of the scenes I liked best in the book was when Mia’s grandfather talks to her while she’s in a coma, and I believe the movie nailed that scene. That was one of the scenes that made me teary-eyed. The cinema was only half-full but I could hear other people sniffling as well.

One advantage the movie had over the book was that it had music. Both Mia and Adam are musicians and music is a big part of their lives and is also what brought them together. When I was reading the book, I wondered what it would be like to hear Mia playing the cello or to hear Adam singing while playing the guitar. We definitely got that in the movie. I haven’t had a chance to listen to the movie’s soundtrack after watching it onscreen but I think it sounded pretty good. I think the songs in the movie were chosen well. I really liked the bonfire scene in the movie because it seemed like such a happy, music-filled moment for everyone.

I really enjoyed watching If I Stay but similar to The Fault in Our Stars, I feel like it’s a quiet kind of movie that focuses on human interactions and emotions. I liked watching both films because I’ve read both books and I feel like that gave me a richer experience compared to just watching the movies on their own. So what I’m trying to say is I have no idea whether those who haven’t read the book will like the movie. Other people may find the flow of the scenes a bit disjointed because of the flashback format of the storytelling. Like I said, the movie worked for me and because it did, I will be keeping my fingers crossed for a movie adaptation of Where She Went.

Have you seen If I Stay in theaters? What did you think? Have you read the book and are you planning to see the adaptation on the big screen?

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Gayle Forman’s If I Stay and Where She Went were two contemporary novels that I loved last year. Mia and Adam are even included in my list of Favorite Literary Couples in the past year. I couldn’t wait to read Just One Day as soon as I found out about it. I did consider waiting for the companion novel to be released before I read it but when rave reviews starting popping up in the blogosphere, I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait. I was delighted when Just One Day finally became available in bookstores here, I grabbed a copy and read it as soon as I could.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Just One DayWhen sheltered American good girl Allyson “LuLu” Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I finished reading Just One Day and I have no idea why I keep putting off writing my thoughts about it. I guess because I really enjoyed reading Just One Day but it felt incomplete without Just One Year. I wanted to get to know Willem more because obviously, meeting him was a turning point in Allyson’s life. In any case, it’s a lovely contemporary YA novel but I didn’t love it as much as If I Stay and Where She Went. While I was reading this, I kept thinking of how realistic Allyson’s situation is. I tend to be cautious while traveling so I was wondering if I ever found myself in her shoes, would I be willing to go off to Paris to spend the day with a guy I just met? Without a phone that has international roaming activated and without being familiar with the language of the country? If I push all of that aside and focus on the story, it’s all very romantic though. I get the feeling that Just One Day would make a great movie. I like how we see a different side of Paris in this novel. Like Allyson said, it’s not the “Paris of the movies.” I’ve always wanted to go to Paris but this novel made me want to explore the non-touristy sections of the city, to get lost and just see what I end up discovering. Here’s one of quote from the book that stood out for me:

“…being Lulu, it made me realize that all my life I’ve been living in a small, square room, with no windows and no doors. And I was fine. I was happy, even. I thought. Then someone came along and showed me there was a door in the room. One that I’d never even seen before. Then he opened it for me. Held my hand as I walked through it. And for one perfect day, I was on the other side. I was somewhere else. Someone else. And then he was gone, and I was thrown back into my little room. And now, no matter what I do, I can’t seem to find that door.”

I chose this passage because I like how it highlights how certain experiences can open our eyes to a wider world. I guess it reminds me of traveling and reading – how those activities make you realize that there’s so much more out there than what you know. I also really liked the college setting of the novel and could relate to Allyson’s situation – how she felt that she has to go the pre-med track because it’s what her parents want, even when she’s interested in classes like pottery or Shakespeare Out Loud. I’m jealous at the wide selection of classes available at her school. Allyson’s parents, her mom in particular, are very controlling people. While my parents weren’t like that, I had to take up a science or engineering degree in college because I was a scholar in a science high school that required all students to go into that field. I found science interesting but I wasn’t really passionate about it and I felt like it didn’t love me back because I had a hard time with some of my subjects. In spite of that, I felt like I had a great college experience and I wanted the same thing for Allyson. Other details in the book that I enjoyed reading about were: Shakespeare (made me realize that I’ve never seen a performance in person, now I want to watch one of his comedies on stage), Allyson’s buddy D’Angelo (he seems like an awesome friend), Paris and macarons (LOVE macarons! They’re not that common back home in Manila but several bakeries sell them here in Singapore). A pleasant read overall and one that I would recommend to fans of older contemporary YA, traveling, getting lost and finding yourself in the process. Really can’t wait to read Just One Year:

Just One Year

Other reviews:
The Readventurer
Good Books and Good Wine
Alexa Loves Books
Makeshift Bookmark

Macarons

Shoot That Book: Just One More Day

Shoot That Book combines my passion for books and my tendency to become trigger happy with a camera. My lack of photography skills is compensated by my enthusiasm. Basically, I like taking pictures of books.

I’ve been savoring Gayle Forman’s Just One Day for the past few days. I just finished reading it a few minutes ago. I’m still processing what I think of the book but hopefully, I can review it soon. It reminds me of other contemporary YA novels that I’ve enjoyed before: Graffiti Moon because of the one day/night thing, Anna and the French Kiss because it’s also set in Paris and Wanderlove because of the meeting a guy and traveling with him aspect.

Just One Day

Just One Day on top of my suitcase, I thought it would be fitting

Initially, I wasn’t a fan of the cover. I thought it could have gotten a better design but now that I’ve read the book, I feel like the cover fits the story. It represents Allyson’s thoughtful moments while traveling around Europe – because it shows a girl hanging out in a cafe and thinking about life while enjoying a cup of coffee (or is that tea). Even the gigantic watch plays a part in Allyson’s story. I also like that the picture shows a hazy reflection of what she can see outside the window.

Just One Day Shakespeare quote

What about you, what are you reading right now? Have you paid any attention to how the cover of that book relates to the story?

Book Haul: Kinokuniya

I wasn’t having such a great work week so I thought it would be a good idea to drop by the bookstore to cheer myself up. Also, I still have gift vouchers I received last Christmas and I wanted to use them. I saw four books that I was interested in but since they’re a lot more expensive here, I decided to just get these two lovelies:

Kinokuniya Book Haul

Just One Day by Gayle Forman (SGD 14.87)
A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge (SGD 25.89)

Kinokuniya Book Haul

As you all know, I’ve been wanting to get a copy of Just One Day since it was released so I’m really looking forward to reading this. I’m trying to decide if I should start it already or wait until the weekend so I can read it in one day. I read and loved The Lost Conspiracy and I’ve been meaning to read more of Frances Hardinge’s books but I just haven’t gotten the chance. A Face Like Glass has an intriguing premise and I’ve seen it pop up in other bloggers’ best of 2012 lists.

Looking forward to reading these two books! I’m not planning to borrow any books from the library until after we’ve moved to the new flat so I’m sticking with books that I own for now. I also got this cellphone cover that has a bookish design:

S3 Bookish Case

What about you, have you bought any interesting books or other bookish items lately?

Shoot That Book: Tom and Adam

Shoot That Book combines my passion for books and my tendency to become trigger happy with a camera. My lack of photography skills is compensated by my enthusiasm. Basically, I like taking pictures of books.

I reread The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta last week and it’s still as amazing as I remembered. I also recently reviewed Where She Went by Gayle Forman and was reminded yet again that both Tom Mackee and Adam Wilde are music-lovers who are excellent guitar players. So I thought it would be a good idea to feature both books in a guitar-oriented Shoot That Book post.

The Piper's Son and Where She Went with a guitar

It would have been better if Where She Went’s cover has Adam in it, noh? And I couldn’t resist taking more pictures of the Australian edition of The Piper’s Son so here’s another shot:

The Piper's Son Australian edition with a guitar

Also, in case you missed the announcement, this is what the US paperback of The Piper’s Son will look like:

US paperback for The Piper's Son

I have a feeling I’ll be grabbing a copy of that if I see it in local bookstores.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

I really liked reading If I Stay and actually felt bad that it took me so long to read it. The good thing in that is I don’t have to wait for the companion novel and I got to read it while the story is still fresh in my mind. WARNING: This review contains spoilers for If I Stay, even the summary for Where She Went has spoilers so avert your eyes if you haven’t read the first book. Trust me, you don’t want to see spoilers. Here’s the link to my If I Stay review instead.

Here’s the summary from Gayle Forman’s website:

It’s been three years since the devastating accident… three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future — and each other.

I loved where If I Stay ended and I felt like it stood well on its own. Which is why it took me a while to pick up Where She Went even though it’s written from Adam’s point of view and I thought he’s an amazing guy based on the first book. I just couldn’t get over the fact that Adam and Mia broke up after everything they’ve been through. I felt like they had a forever kind of relationship in If I Stay – I thought they had a real connection. I couldn’t resist reading this, however, when I received a copy for my birthday. It still took a couple of chapters for me to get over the idea that Mia left Adam. Things made sense from Adam’s side of the story – how his band became popular, how he reluctantly started a relationship with a celebrity and how messed up his life has been the past couple of years. It’s funny because even though everyone around him and Adam himself thinks that he’s a jerk, I believed that he’s still the great guy he was in If I Stay – he just has more reason to be emo and angry. I’d love to quote some of the sections that I really liked but they might be spoilery so here are some lyrics from Adam’s songs:

“You crossed the water, left me ashore
It killed me enough, but you wanted more
You blew up the bridge, a mad terrorist
Waved from your side, threw me a kiss
I started to follow but realized too late
There was nothing but air underneath my feet”
-Bridge

“I’ll be your mess, you be mine
That was the deal that we had signed
I bought a hazmat suit to clean up your waste
Gas masks, gloves, to keep us safe
But now I’m alone in an empty room
Staring down immaculate doom”
– Messy

Oh Adam. Did I enjoy reading Where She Went? Surprisingly yes, in spite of my reservations. I should have known to trust Gayle Forman because she’s an excellent storyteller. I enjoyed seeing everything through Adam’s eyes. It gave the initial story in If I Stay more depth, while adding in layers provided by the years when Adam and Mia were apart. Although I think it would have been better if we got more insight into Mia and what she was thinking. Don’t get me wrong – it did feel like everything fell into place quite nicely – but I kind of felt like there wasn’t enough of Mia in this installment. I really liked that Where She Went has New Adult characters because we really need more novels like this. Both If I Stay and Where She Went are contemporary novels that I highly recommend. I feel like I’ve been lucky in my contemporary reads in 2012, so far. *keeps fingers crossed that will continue for the rest of the year* I look forward to seeing what Gayle Forman has in store for us next – looks like Just One Day and Just One Year will be companion novels too.

Other reviews:
Book Harbinger
Angieville
Wear the Old Coat
The Readventurer

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I really don’t know why I put off reading If I Stay by Gayle Forman for so long. Maybe I felt like there were already too many YA novels about grief and death? But I’m a sucker for books like those when they’re beautifully written so I knew I’d read this eventually. Because of a certain Twitter conversation, I knew I was going to read If I Stay sooner rather than later.

Here’s the summary from Gayle Forman’s website:

Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, adoring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. Then, in an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the one decision she has left—the most important decision she’ll ever make.

If I had known how much I’d enjoy reading If I Stay, I wouldn’t have waited so long to read it. I think Mia’s interactions with the various people in her life – parents, younger brother, grandparents, boyfriend and best friend – were done really well. It was surprising how fully fleshed out the secondary characters were, given that there were so many of them. It felt like I really got to know them as Mia looked back on her significant memories of them. If I Stay is one of those novels that are all about relationships and can make readers feel all kinds of feelings. It’s a book filled with heartache – it always is when we’re dealing with life and death situations – but I never felt overwhelmed. I admit I found certain sections of the book a bit slow but I didn’t mind because I understood that Mia had a difficult decision to make – the kind of decision that involves a lot of introspection. I find it amazing that I haven’t seen spoilers about Mia’s choice even though I’ve read so many reviews for this book. I guess the book has such a beautiful ending that people understood it would be a shame to ruin the experience for other readers.

I really liked how close Mia was with her non-traditional parents because it’s always nice to see supportive parents in YA. Mia’s parents were the opposite of strict and they reminded me a bit of my own parents. I was also a fan of the slow burn romance between Mia and Adam. How they love different kinds of music but it still brought them together – Mia plays the cello and loves classical music while Adam plays the guitar and is a member of a rock band. Their relationship isn’t perfect because they both have their issues and they had to work until they found their rhythm. I think what they have is intense and sweet at the same time. I’m not as into music as these two but that didn’t keep me from liking their love story. I know I said I liked how things ended in If I Stay and I was okay with leaving things like that but I have a feeling I’ll be reading Where She Went soon. I can’t resist, knowing that it’s written from Adam’s point of view. If I Stay is a delightful read in so many ways and is the kind of contemporary YA that I can recommend without hesitation. I’m so glad I gave in and read it. Will now be on the lookout for Gayle Forman’s other novels. Going back to the reason why I read this book, do I think Adam and Tom (from The Piper’s Son) will be mates if they ever met? Maybe. But I get the feeling Adam would get along better with Jake (from Saving June). Or they could all just form a band and have jam sessions together.

Other reviews:
Book Harbinger
Angieville
See Michelle Read
Wear the Old Coat
The Readventurer

Want Books: Where She Went

Want Books? is a weekly meme hosted here at Chachic’s Book Nook and features released books that you want but you can’t have for some reason. It can be because it’s not available in your country, in your library or you don’t have the money for it right now. Everyone is free to join, just grab the image above. Leave a comment with a link to your post so I can do a roundup with each post.

I’m behind on so blog-related activities – I’ve read If I Stay by Gayle Forman but I haven’t reviewed it. I thought it was a pretty good read. Which is why I decided to do a Want Books post for its companion novel, Where She Went. I really liked Adam in If I Stay and I would LOVE to read a book from his point of view. Although I’m a bit conflicted – If I Stay had an amazing ending and I don’t know how I’ll feel about revisiting the characters. I have a feeling curiosity will win though and I’d want to read this while the story of the first book is still fresh in my mind. I just need to find a copy. I dropped by the bookstore the other day to ask about it and it was out of stock in that branch. If you haven’t read If I Stay, DO NOT read the spoilery synopsis for this one. You’ve been warned.

Here’s the summary from Gayle Forman’s website:

It’s been three years since the devastating accident… three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future — and each other.

Have you guys read Gayle Forman’s novels? What did you think of them? Also, what book is in your wishlist?

Why I Need to Read Gayle Forman’s Books

It’s always awesome when you see authors having conversations with each other on Twitter. What’s even better is when they reply to your tweets. After carefully copying and pasting the various tweets, here’s Melina Marchetta and Gayle Forman chatting about how their characters would be friends if Tom and Adam ever got to meet (click to embiggen):

I really need to read Gayle Forman’s books soon!