“Lou has a lot of questions…” the book starts, followed by a few questions that are asked and a few more lines that are written.

“But does the stranger on her doorstep hold the answer Lou is searching for- or just more questions?”

That’s the synopsis on the back of the novel After You, the sequel to Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. I know what you’re thinking, and believe me – I’ve been there before: “This is not enough! What if this sequel ruins my experience with the first book? I need more information.”

And I agree with your thoughts- that’s what happens when a poorly written sequel decides to live off of its precedent’s fame. My answer to you, fellow readers, is to have no fear; the sequel to Me Before You won’t disappoint you because the book is anything but poorly written.

If you haven’t read Me Before You then, please, stop reading now. Spoilers are to come, and they’re inevitable.

You’ve been warned.

When I got my hands on a little volume of After You with its cream-colored cover and its perfect shape, I felt blessed. A little part of me hoped that Will would come back, at least as a ghost. However, no such luck. He does come back, but not in the way we hoped he would. He comes back in a JoJo Moyes’ kind of way: unexpected and surprisingly satisfying.

As the events unravel within the novel, you’ll get a glimpse into Lou’s progress and you’ll suffer from a few stupid decisions she makes. Those decisions will make you angry, sometimes leading into the ritual of screaming at the rigid pages just to stop the torture, which is probably the author’s way of keeping the reader engaged.

Lou’s change is very obvious, she’s no longer the young woman she once was, her life was shaken to the core after what happened, and even after a year-and-a-half of mourning, she’s still in the process of letting go. Two people come along to change her life for the better and sometimes for the worse, but everything will be fine.

In addition to a tantalizing plot, the novel deals with the theme of women’s oppression through Josie (Lou’s mother). It also shows us how she deals with these issues, how she overcomes them, and how she deals with everyone during the process. In this way, Moyes’ novel has a grander purpose; it allows her to reach out to women who have been forcefully silenced.

Aside from this poignant theme, the book aims to create a sense of closure regarding the main characters’ lives. We see how Lou embraces new opportunities and gets over Will’s death; how Treena, Patrick, Nathan, Josie, Will’s mother and other characters put their lives on different tracks and how everyone embarks on new beginnings.

With all its grace and good humor, After You is not what faithful readers might expect as a sequel to Me Before You. It’s powerful and has to live up to the expectations of the first book, which it does not greatly exceed. Should the book be turned into a movie? I personally think so; I’d love to see the characters back on the big screen, and I would love to see the reaction to this sequel.

In the end, books were made to be an alternative experience for us, and this experience was certainly one of the best experiences I’ve had so far. I had ups and downs throughout both books, encountered many moments that made the characters relatable, a few awkward scenes that left me blushing for the characters, many angry encounters, a lot of humorous instants, and of course tearful scenes that left me sobbing my heart out. No doubt, both Me Before You and its sequel will continue to have a special place in my heart.

By Yumna Husseini