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Literary Glance: Still Me by Jojo Moyes

February 15, 2018

The easiest job in the publishing business has to be book designer for Jojo Moyes.  Every one of her book covers has the same font with just the tiniest glimpse of a picture.  All the book designer has to do is pick a couple colors and font sizes, and the book is ready to go.

Some authors have very obvious traits.  James Patterson has extremely short chapters and lots of cheesy dialogue.  Stephen King uses lots of adverbs even though he gives advice not to.  And Jojo Moyes has book covers that look the same.  Out of all of those characteristics, the book cover is the least problematic.  To be fair, none of these traits are really problematic.  It just seems like problematic is the current word to use when offensive is too harsh.  And I don’t really get offended by much.

Anyway, to me, the book cover is less important than writing style.  I rarely pay attention to book covers anymore, especially with digital books.  The only reason I noticed the Moyes book covers is that it’s impossible not to.  Plus, I’d like to find myself an easy job.  I’d love a job where I just had to decide on a couple colors and font sizes.  I wish I had thought of that years ago.

Besides the book cover, I really don’t know what else to say about Still Me by Jojo Moyes.  After I read the beginning of a book for Literary Glance, I usually have an idea of what stands out.  Maybe there are rambling paragraphs that are too long.  Maybe there’s some great dialogue or outstanding descriptions.  Maybe there’s an awkward sex scene.  But I have nothing for Still Me.

I haven’t figured out what’s appealing about this book.  It hit the bestseller list in its first week, but some of that is because the author is Jojo Moyes.  She has a good reputation, despite the similar book covers.  I was expecting something more noteworthy about her writing.  I mean, I didn’t see anything especially humorous in her writing.  I didn’t see great dialogue.  I didn’t feel the main character’s wonderment as she discovered her way through New York.  The secondary characters didn’t seem particularly interesting.

This reminds me of a writer’s group experience I had decades ago where a blunt guy ranted about how much my manuscript sucked and he finished his critique with:

“There wasn’t one g****m thing about this that was any good.”

I wouldn’t ever drop a g-bomb on somebody else’s writing, but I understand what that blunt guy felt.  I’m bewildered by the beginning of Still Me.  I won’t even excerpt it because I can’t find a section that stands out as an example of average because all of it sounds the same.  I feel like I’ve read all the descriptions and dialogue before, even though I haven’t read much of Jojo Moyes before.  There was one brief scene where a secondary character was in an awkward situation and I wondered what was really going on, but I didn’t care enough to keep reading (and that’s rare for me because I love awkward situations when they’re happening to other people).

I know that Still Me is the third novel with Louisa Clarke (Me Before You and After You), and I haven’t read those books, so I’m probably missing a lot.  I also know it’s not a good idea to start the third book before the first book.  I get that.  But last week I began reading Iron Gold, the fourth book in a series, and I understood the appeal of that series even if I’m probably not going to read it.  I didn’t criticize it too much because I knew why readers would enjoy it.  But this?  Other than the cover, I just don’t know what to say about it.

*****

What do you think?  What am I missing about Still Me?  What job is easier than being Jojo Moyes’s book cover designer?

9 Comments
  1. Fantastic review. I actually happen to agree with you. I can’t connect with Moyes’ writing for some reason.

  2. I didn’t like the first two books either.

  3. There’s a thin line between author’s traits and cliche.

  4. No, it would wind up with me complaining about popular writers.

  5. Yeah, Moyes writing is somehow very carefree sort with such a mundane storyline.

  6. I read the first two books and I really liked them. I actually think I liked the second one more than the first one. But this third one took me a few months to get through. I agree, I don’t think her style of writing is anything special but the storyline of Louisa Clarke is entertaining. You might feel differently if you read the first book! Hopefully Jojo Moyes will put this story to rest and there won’t be a fourth haha

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