Before You Go by James Preller Review

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Title: Before You Go
Author: James Preller
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publish Date: July 17, 2012
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 199
Source: Publisher

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.
Jude hasn't had the easiest life. Having lived his entire teenage existence with an overwhelming shadow of grief looming over him due to his sister's death, he needs this summer. He needs a change, and he's ready to finally break free of the darkness that's held him in its clutches since that tragic day. Jude is ready to live, and when he meets Becka, he thinks his life is just about ready to get back to normal. But life has other plans for him, and things are just about to get messy and complicated. Again.

Can you imagine the enormous weight of guilt you might feel if someone died on your watch? That, in a nutshell, is the heart and soul of Before You Go, an angst-filled novel by James Preller. With an entirely original writing style meant to engage the intended young adult crowd, the is quick, fast-paced and is easily read in a single night. Sweeping you into the saga of a teenager whose real-life drama is a thousand times more weighted than that of normal teenage life, we're given a story in which we can only hope for redemption and ultimate peace.

You know, I waited a really long time to actually sit down and write the review for Before You Go because, to be entirely honest, I'm not sure what I actually got out of this novel. The book starts with a crash - literally - sending us spiralling into the story in an extremely dramatic manner. I was excited because in a book this slim, a fast-paced plot is key. I have to say that, at the very least, the pacing was a strength for Before You Go because it never lagged, and it definitely moved at a steady, believable pace. Jude was a pretty true-to-life teen boy, as well. His overwhelming guilt made him a bit hard to access because he was, more often than not, closed off emotionally, and this distanced me as a reader. There were some extremely expressive instances, however, where I caught a glimpse of who he truly was, but they were fleeting, and I found that frustrating. Furthermore, I have to be honest and say that I had most of my issues with the actual plot. We're given a series of relationships and events, but they're mere shadows. I can't say that any singular plot point stands out as the climax, and there was a lack of resolution in the conclusion that made me wonder what happened to the rest of Before You Go. Furthermore, if I might be petty for a brief moment, the over-abundance of odd slang throughout really through me off and really left me feeling very unattached. 

Overall, I hate to say it, but I really expected (and hoped for) more. It wasn't a bad read, and I think that with more detail and emotion, Before You Go could have been solid gold. I give it a 2.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction with a male MC.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. I'm glad that Before You Go was able to provide a somewhat realistic perspective for you Melissa. But the lack of clear plot and lack of connection with Jude probably wouldn't work for me either. Sorry you weren't able to enjoy this more, but thanks for the honest review!

  2. Wow. What a horrible thing! I can't imagine that's an easy recovery. But the distance it created doesn't help with reader connections, so I totally get where you're coming from.

  3. I think this will be enjoyed by a good many readers, but I felt that the book was too short, especially, for me to create a connection with a character as distanced as Jude!

  4. I wish I'd loved it more, but hey...I'm sure plenty of people will!

  5. Thanks, Jenny! I'm sure it will appeal to a good many just missed the mark with me, unfortunately!

  6. Too bad this didn't catch you. It's frustrating when you can see enough of a book to know that it has great potential but doesn't quite get there.

  7. I remembering hearing about this one and thinking that it was going to be such a sad book. I'm sorry that it ended up not being what you expected! I always have a hard time with books where I can't really connect to the MC or always feel boxed out of the MC's life/emotions/thoughts.

  8. Unfortunately, this one will remain a DNF for me. I tried so hard to read it, but you're right about it being angst-filled and I just couldn't deal with it. On top of it, I thought it was poorly written and like you, I didn't feel I'd be taking anything away from the story.
    Ah, well, you can't win them all.
    Great review!

  9. Okay, just realized you were back! So glad!! Missed your reviews so much. Like this one! I can see not being able to get in touch with Jude. I don't think I'd ever even pick this one up. Not because of the guilt, but because it sounds like he's just got more grief in store for him. Glad you read it and not me. It's a beautiful review and nicely balanced (you always find something redeeming in what you read) but I don't think it's for me.

    So glad your back and hope you are well and happy!

  10. Eh. I had some good expectations for this one - not great, but good. I didn't expect it to be like this. I especially hate when I feel nothing towards the narrator. Guess I won't be picking this one up anytime soon!

  11. Thank you, Heather! I missed you, too! This was definitely a tough read for me, but I do think if we look hard enough, there is almost always some sort of redeeming quality :)

  12. Thanks, Maja! Yeah, it was a tough one for sure...I felt bad not reviewing it, but it definitely missed the mark for me, too.

  13. It's definitely a sad book, but I can deal with that if I can access their emotions and heal with them, you know? Unfortunately, we're left in the cold!

  14. Exactly...I'm sure the author will continue to grow though, and I'm interested to see what he offers in the future!

  15. It was a challenge, for sure, Hafsah, and it won't be for everyone. I'm glad I tried it, but I think it's best for people to understand what they're getting into!

  16. I was hoping you like this one better. I really enjoyed it. Thanks for being honest.

  17. It's so interesting how we have such high expectations for a book only to be disappointed. I like books that suck me in right from the start, though, and male protagonists are rare.

  18. I always appreciate honesty in a review. Dishonesty doesn't help anyone.

  19. I can definitely see how his overwhelming guilt would make it difficult to connect to him. You can't really settle into a character's story if they spend the whole time trying to keep you out. I don't think this is the book for me, but beautifully written review as always:)


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