Title: Before You Go
Author: James Preller
Publication date: July 17th 2012 by Feiwel & Friends
Source: ARC received from the publisher for review
The summer before his senior year, Jude (yes, he’s named after the Beatles song) gets his first job, falls in love for the first time, and starts to break away from his parents. Jude’s house is kept dark, and no one talks much—it’s been that way since his little sister drowned in a swimming pool seven years ago when Jude was supposed to be watching her.
Now, Jude is finally, finally starting to live. Really live. And then, life spins out of control. Again.
Acclaimed author James Preller explores life, death, love, faith, and resilience in his first young adult novel that will grip readers from the book’s dramatic first few pages to its emotional end.
The first scene of Before You Go by James Preller packs a punch. It’s rich in imagery and sensory detail and there’s an urgency to the scene. Add that to how excited I was for the novel, and I was fully sucked in. I expected that would be the case for then entirely novel, but then I realized it was a flash-forward-style prologue. These work in some (RARE) cases, but in many, as was the case in Before You Go, it irritated me as a reader. I felt like I’d been promised high stakes from the get-go and they weren’t nearly delivered.
Unfortunately, things didn’t get much better. I kept waiting for characters to feel like real people instead of caricatures of actual teenagers. The dialogue feels forced, awkward, and inauthentic, peppered with obscure book and movie references that would have been effective once or twice, but not as much as they were used.
The plot could have done with some tightening; it felt like there was a lot of information or scenes that didn’t serve a purpose. I can think of at least two characters who seemed simply like devices to draw out the story as they didn’t further the plot at all.
The main character Jude still feels grief and guilt over the death of his sister Lily and feels disconnected from his parents. He starts a new job and is maybe even figuring out his first love. Plus, as noted in the plot synopsis, something occurs that throws Jude’s life into upheaval once again.
Obviously, the events involved in Before You Go all involved some extremely heightened emotions and I’d anticipated feeling some major pathos for Jude. But, there was nothing. Not a twinge.
I think a lot of that was down to the fact that Before You Go is written in a third person omniscient point of view, which distanced me from all involved. I was never really close enough to Jude to feel for him.
Overall rating: 2/5. I simply didn’t connect with Before You Go. Still love the premise and the way that the prologue is written, though.