Friday, 15 February 2013

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

Title: The Catastrophic History of You and Me
Author: Jess Rothenberg
Publisher: Razorbill
Released: February 2nd 2012
Pages: 400 (Paperback)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Dying of a broken heart is just the beginning...Welcome to forever. 

BRIE'S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally. 

But now that she's D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after. 

With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?

I honestly don't know how to feel about this book. I finished it last night, and I've spent most of today sitting and wondering what I'm going to write about it. The other week, I was in my school library helping to cover some new books we'd gotten in, and the librarian recommended this one to me; so I thought I'd give it a go!

At almost-sixteen, Brie's life ends tragically as her heart breaks in two. Yup, I mean that in the literal sense. However, life after death isn't as simple as she once believed; stuck in parallel Half Moon Bay, Brie can only watch as life after her death unfolds for her family, friends, and ex-boyfriend, and things begin to go wrong.

Can I just say that the chapter titles are what earned this novel its first star, rating-wise? I opened the book and BAM! don't you (forget about me) is written there! I know I didn't even live in the 80's, but one of my favourite films is The Breakfast Club, and I guess loving that song comes with the territory. I don't really ever talk about the chapters titles, and I suppose in the grand scheme of things they don't really matter - but they were interesting, and I did find myself singing out the songs in my head or wondering where I'd heard the lyrics from before. The whole book cried nostalgia.

I don't really know what I was expecting from the novel, really. I supposed I was expecting something close to realism - like Before I Fall, perhaps - but it actually contained a lot more fantasy and paranormal aspects than I first expected. I loved Rothenberg's interpretation of the afterlife, of people being stuck in a world not too dissimilar from their own, able to visit the real world and see how things happen, but unable to change or affect anything greatly. Well, I say that and then spoiler spoiler spoiler.

I actually really liked Brie! I seem to say that a lot about female protagonists nowadays, but I really did. She was your average teenage girl - yes, she was obsessed with her ex-boyfriend and the betrayal of her best friend, but I could relate to that...Okay, I didn't mean for that to sound so creepy. But as a sixteen year old girl, I can understand how much relationships and friendships affect your own personal happiness, so for me it felt more realistic for her to spend most of her time thinking about those things.

I loved Patrick too, though I kind of wish there had been more of him. The interwoven storyline surrounding him, although I didn't see it coming, I'm not sure whether I liked it or not. At the time, I cried - gosh, I was a complete wreck! But looking back, I'm not really sure that it contributed much to the overall plot of the book. In a way, it felt like Rothenberg had just slipped it in at the end, because for the majority of the novel, Brie's past life took center stage. And then suddenly all this stuff with Patrick happened, like a bit of an afterthought? Perhaps that was just me, though...

If you get overly emotional over books, then avoid this novel at all costs! It will make you laugh and cry and love and hate humanity and death and everything. I used far too many and's then  (I'm sorry, English teachers, I'm sorry!), but the point I'm trying to make is that it will make you feel upset. However, it is a really good book. Whilst most of it didn't keep me up reading until the early hours of the morning, it was a very good read; put-downable, but a good read nonetheless. If you love contemporary romance, I think this is a must for your TBR list.
Rating: 4/5

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