Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Now is Good by Jenny Downham

Now is Good
(a.k.a. Before I Die)
by Jenny Downham

Summary: Tessa has just months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, drugs with excruciating side-effects, Tessa compiles a list. It’s her To Do Before I Die list. And number one is Sex.

id="freeText12945499024079583616">Released from the constraints of ‘normal’ life, Tessa tastes new experiences to make her feel alive while her failing body struggles to keep up. Tessa’s feelings, her relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, and her new boyfriend, all are painfully crystallised in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time finally runs out.
I'm kind of...underwhelmed by this book. It wasn't bad, I just didn't love it.

I'm not really a fan of "Cancer Books" - I tend to avoid them as best I can, the only exception to that has been The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (but he could probably write the phonebook and have it end up on my favourites shelf) - and this book felt just like all the other ones (and the Cancer Movies), it didn't really stand out or do anything special and seemed to have all the reasons I avoid these sorts of books (if you like these kind of stories, you'll probably like it, my aversion to cancer stories definitely had an impact on my opinion of the book).

All it did was depress me and not in a good way (I say not in a good way, like there is a "good way" to be depressed - but you know how some books can make you hurt, can break your heart, can make you feel like your emotions have been put through a shredder and handed back to you and then in the end, you love the book for that very reason? That's what I mean by "good way" - only this book didn't do that, not even close).

The only thing about it that was different from the other predictable cancer stories for me was the British aspect of it, because most of the cancer books or movies or whatever that I've read/seen have been American, which has a whole different feel to it. Also, I did appreciate the fact that Jenny Downham didn't sugarcoat it or try to shove a morals down the readers throat (like, often in these stories, a character will be about to lose their virginity to the wrong guy, then the writer will have them change their mind at the last minute so their first time can be when their True Love predictably shows up - but Jenny doesn't do that sort of thing).

I'm not sure if I even liked Tessa. She had little moments that I did, but overall - I just didn't enjoy being in her head. I think she may have been realistic though. If I was in her situation, I'd probably be kind of selfish and bratty and annoying too, it's understandable...it's just not the most interesting thing to read about. The story itself - predictable, in the way all these types of books are.

The romance? Mediocre. Maybe it was realistic, I don't know - it just didn't feel real while reading it, I didn't feel invested in it because the book is told in this weird way where it seemed to jump over the most interesting parts, the parts that would make me more attached to these characters. It skips over big chunks of time, which is fine except that it feels like it was skipping over the important stuff, the stuff I wanted to read about, and instead choosing to tell the more boring aspects. Like all the focus was on the dying, but we only got tiny glimpses of her living - most of it, except her cancer, it felt like we were told about the destination instead of the journey (like, we're told she's in love but shown very little of how she got there).

This review is seeming really negative. I really didn't hate it, I'd rate it 3 stars out of 5, it's just the Cancer Book thing that puts me off big time and it is possible for me to like one of those, a writer can win me over if the book is good enough, this just didn't do it. It really is just a subjective thing though, so don't let my opinion of it put you off, unless you know you're exactly like me when it comes to this subject matter. The writing was good, I think I'd probably like a different book written by Jenny Downham, this just wasn't for me.

There's a movie of the book out now, the movie seems like it could be good. And it may be one of the rare cases where I like the movie better, because I won't be stuck in Tessa's head all the time and it seems to have changed some things and like it's put more life into it. Here's the trailer, if you're interested:


1 comment:

  1. i also read this book and i thought it was brilliant so dont you dare go around telling people it wasnt good!!!:)



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