I bought this book for my friend for Christmas after my mum and sister saw the film and came back waxing lyrical about how amazing it was. My friend read it and said it left her with such an awestruck feeling that I had to read it, so she lent it to me. I begun this book on the 26th of March, and I finished it by the next morning (I pretty much read it in two sittings, the first third of the book in one day, and the final two thirds the next morning), if that gives you any idea of how fantastic it was.
This book was originally titled 'Before I Die', so I think that might give you some indication into the overall feel of this novel. It is a sad book, and there is no escaping that fact. If I was to compare it to another book, I'd describe it as a darker, and perhaps more serious (certainly less funny), version of John Green's 'The Fault in our Stars'.
The novel is from the point of view of Tessa, a 16 year old girl who is in the latter stages of terminal leukemia when she decides to compile and complete a bucket list of 10 things she wants to do before she dies. We follow her as she attempts to fulfil all the things on her list, with the help of her best friend Zoey.
At first, I really did not like any of the characters at all - expect maybe her father who appeared to be trying his hardest to make Tessa feel as happy and as comfortable as he could. However, as the novel progressed I felt a huge fondness for Tessa (I did shed a tear at the end) and even began to like her friend Zoey (whom I hated at the start). The turn around character in this book is Adam, and there is literally no point in the novel when I wasn't on his side. Like I said, all of the characters warm on you so if you do pick this up and are reading it thinking that you hate them all - do stick with it. You will be rewarded for it by the end.
The stand out aspect of this novel was the language. Nothing Tessa said appeared contrived, which is extremely difficult to do in a cancer book. the descriptive sentences were plentiful and stunning - my favourite is when Tessa is watching the sunlight hit her body, and she describes it as congealing at her feet. I think that is simply sublime use of language.
Equally, Downham's ability to drop in and out of scenes is perfect - you get just the right sense of how much time has past and the events that fill in the gaps. This is especially well done in the final couple of chapters of the novel.
I highly recommend this book.
Hopefully I'll get round to doing a book to film review, as I really want to see the film - now more than ever.
I give 'Now is Good' 4 sunbeams (too self indulgent as a rating system?)