Book Review: One Day

“Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance.”  –David Nicholls, One Day

Title: One Day
Author: David Nicholls
Format: Audiobook
Reader: Anna Bentinck
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: May 24, 2011
Source: My local public library


It’s 1988 and Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have only just met. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another. Over twenty years, snapshots of that relationship are revealed on the same day—July 15th—of each year. Dex and Em face squabbles and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. And as the true meaning of this one crucial day is revealed, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself.

–From the Trade Paperback Edition

My Thoughts:

Question for the day: Does reading book reviews (that don’t contain spoilers) directly before embarking on the journey yourself bias your reading of a book? In this case, I’d have to at least say “maybe.” I put this book on my “to-read” list after seeing the previews for the movie when it came out a few years ago (I still haven’t seen it), and I read many positive reviews on and book blogs. However, a few days before I checked out this audiobook from the library I read Jamie’s “Reconsider or Release” post (where she debated whether or not to abandon several books) and One Day was one of the books was on her list. She asked for feedback on whether or not she should finish the books on her list, and for One Day the responses were lukewarm at best. So, this is the mindset with which I began reading.

Generally, I liked the premise of this book. Most novels  look at  either a short span of time (a few days to a year) or a long length of time, but skip significant portions of it in between. By examining the lives of Dex and Em on a single day for 20 years, the reader really gets to know and understand them. By the end of the novel, I felt like Dex and Em could be people I knew in real life. Thus, the character development is by far the strongest (and my favorite part) of this novel. Nicholls does an excellent job of creating very real and flawed characters, and although I didn’t always like Dex and Em I felt like I understood them.

Overall, my emotions ranged from mildly amused to annoyed while “reading” (i.e. listening) this book. At times, the story really seemed to drag on (I often found myself thinking “get on with it already!”), and the “funny bits” I read so much about were frankly few and far between. There were several times I put this book aside because it was just too depressing and predictable (more on that in a second), but I pressed on because I really hate to leave a book unfinished. By the time I got to the ending, I thought I knew what would happen but Nicholls threw me a curve ball…and not one that I liked. Yes, the final passages of the book were told beautifully but it wasn’t enough to erase the bad taste in mouth.

On another note, I really did not enjoy the narration in this audiobook. While Ms. Bentinck does a fine job of reading Dex’s role (it is a woman imitating a man’s voice after all), her voice really does not match what I expected for Em. I hesitate to say this, but her voice sounded a bit too old to be reading Em at 23 years of age (or even 43). At times, I was so distracted by this that I had to rewind the narration because I had missed 30 seconds to a minute of it. It’s not that Ms. Bentinck is incompetent as a narrator, I just think a different voice for this book might have increased my enjoyment of it.

In sum, I didn’t hate this book but I didn’t really like it either. It was slow, depressing, and has stayed with me only because of the bad feelings I have associated with it. If you are someone who enjoys in-depth character studies, you should read this book. The character development is really superb… just don’t expect it to uplift you.

What Others Had To Say:

Simply Gina

The Perpetual Page Turner

*Let me know if you have posted a review of this book that I missed!

My Review In Four Lines:

  1. Rating: 2/5 stars
  2. What I liked: The intense and in-depth character development
  3. What I didn’t enjoy as much: The ending. Srsly Nicholls?!
  4. I would recommend this book for: People who like books that feature strong character development, or fans of the movie


Linking up with Blonde…Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

Note: I did not receive any compensation whatsoever for this book review.

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Avalynn27
    Jun 01, 2012 @ 10:17:33

    Seems interesting..


  2. Abbey
    Jun 01, 2012 @ 10:27:28

    Eh. I tried to read this one and gave up in less than a hundred pages. Maybe I’ll try again someday…


  3. exlibrisheather
    Jun 01, 2012 @ 10:31:39

    @Avalynn27: It was certainly interesting…Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

    @Abbey: I don’t blame you at all. I really wanted to like this one, but I just didn’t.


  4. ginadebacker
    Jun 01, 2012 @ 10:32:42

    I don’t know why, but I really, really enjoyed this book. I think it’s because I’m a sucker for melodrama. The ending was horribly sad, but it really affected me in a way that didn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth but instead made me think about the choices we make in our life. I have, however, recommended this book to a few people, and they didn’t love it as much as I did. Instead, their feelings were lukewarm like yours. But whatever. I still adore this book and love the flawed characters of Em and Dex. I haven’t seen the movie, and I don’t know if I want to. I’ve only heard bad things about it.


    • exlibrisheather
      Jun 01, 2012 @ 10:49:06

      Yea I saw the movie had really bad reviews online. I also don’t really feel a need to see the movie (and not just because I didn’t like the book that much)…I just don’t feel like it would enhance my understanding/enjoyment at this point.


  5. ginadebacker
    Jun 01, 2012 @ 10:33:31

    Oh yea, and thanks for the link! 🙂


  6. robyn
    Jun 01, 2012 @ 10:36:13

    loved this book! the movie is not very good though-it makes Dex kess likable (if you liked him in the book)


  7. Shoshanah
    Jun 01, 2012 @ 19:13:33

    I really enjoyed this book back when I read it. (I’m sure if you’re really curious, you can probably find the review in archives some where.) I was SOOO excited for the movie to come out, and while I did enjoy parts of it, I do think the movie could have been so much better. But granted I do see how it’s a hard book to adapt to a movie.


  8. Heather
    Jun 02, 2012 @ 18:24:23

    I had a love/hate relationship with this book!


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