I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Seven Days of You is about a seventeen year old girl called Sophia who has lived in Tokyo for most of her life, until now. She has a week until she has to move back to New Jersey with her mother and her sister Alison. A week left with her friends Mika and David and with the city that she calls home. However, just in time for her final week, Jamie returns to Tokyo after spending a few years away, and Sophia is not happy. Jamie is Mika’s best friend, and used to be hers, until just before he left, he did something to upset her. She hasn’t forgiven him, and it’s bad enough that she has to leave in a week without having to spend her last week with him. Unfortunately, I really didn’t like the characters in this book or the story, and apart from the references to Tokyo, there wasn’t much that I enjoyed about this book.
I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Sophia and Jamie get together (it’s kind of obvious). For me, it was all a bit weird. One minute Sophia was saying that she hated Jamie, and the next minute she was kissing him, and suddenly she loved him. I understand that the whole point of this novel was that there are only seven days, and so of course there would be a degree of ‘insta-love’, but this was just on a whole new level of fast for me, considering that she couldn’t stand him for about half of the week, so it wasn’t really seven days, it was more like three. The whole progression and history of this relationship just really ticked me off. I didn’t get it at all. Including their “history of heartbreak”, which I personally didn’t think was heartbreaking enough. When I did find out what the event that ended Sophia’s initial friendship with Jamie was, it just felt immature and like the characters, particularly Sophia, probably should have gotten over it by now.
This leads swiftly on to my second point, which is that almost every single relationship in this book annoyed me. Sophia’s friends are terrible people for most of the book, and I really couldn’t understand why she couldn’t see that for herself.Thankfully, Sophia does realise this around halfway through, which is nice, but then I didn’t like the way that she realised it! Much like her drama with Jamie, I really felt like she was getting angry and emotional at the wrong things and in a really melodramatic way. I felt that Sophia got angry mainly at one event, without seeing the bigger picture and realising that her friends just generally didn’t respect her or treat her in the way that she deserved. Although Vinesse did show Sophia’s friendships with Mika and Caroline developing and overcoming some problems, I would have liked to see the same thing with the relationship with David. Considering that Sophia goes some way to realising that she deserves to be treated better, I would have really appreciated seeing her facing the worst culprit, and also to see that worst culprit redeem himself a little.
There were thankfully some aspects of this book that I did like. I liked Sophia’s family, but I would have liked to have seen more of them. The storyline about her relationship with her father was really well done considering that her father only actually appears once in the whole novel in a phone call. I also liked Alison and the way that the sisters’ relationship appears cold on the surface but beneath that is really caring. I would have loved to have seen more of the mother, because I’m sure that she would be a great character. There was a point where Alison says that their mother doesn’t like them to do things that aren’t gender-neutral, which would have been something interesting to read about, and as a professor she could have been made into a character that is unlike most single mothers we read about in YA. I would have liked some more exploration of this family dynamic. Sophia at one point says that they’re like the three witches of Macbeth, and I would have loved it if they had felt like that, instead of three one-dimensional characters.
The setting was by far my favourite part of this novel. If Seven Days of You had not been set in Tokyo, I don’t think that I would have finished it, but Cecilia Vinesse does a really good job of making you feel like you’re in Tokyo. She described the hustle and bustle of the city really well. I could see the colours, feel the people rushing by, hear the sound of traffic, and I wish I could eat all the food that she describes. Everything in my head was in technicolour. I would have liked to have seen some Japanese characters, and the lack of any authentic Japanese perspectives was a huge flaw for me. I also enjoyed the constant countdown to Sophia’s departure, and the idea that Sophia is living her life counting down to particular events, but is learning to enjoy each moment.
Unfortunately, this novel really wasn’t my style. I didn’t like the central relationships, either the friendships or the romantic relationship, and the only relationships that I was interested in – the family relationships – weren’t developed enough for my liking. The Tokyo setting saved this book from being a one-star review for me, as it made everything feel just that little bit more exciting and colourful.