Friday, June 1, 2012

Book Review: The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg
Series: Stand-alone
Published: February 21st, 2012
Publisher: Dial Books (Penguin)
375 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Contemporary young adult/paranormal
Acquired this book: From the library
Warning: May contain spoilers
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Synopsis: 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 have really mixed feelings about this book. If I were basing my review on the concept of the book, or on the last quarter or so of the story, I would be giving it a 4.5, or maybe even a 5, but unfortunately that’s not how these things work.

What I liked:
-The concept. Terrific, unique concept. Teenage girl dies of a broken heart and goes to limbo where she can do whatever she wants whenever she wants, including watch her family and friends.

-Patrick. I liked him, but didn’t love him, and I love to love boys in books. He was sweet and funny, but I just wasn’t feeling it between him and Brie, and his cheese-themed nicknames got on my nerves fast. Despite that, he was pretty much the only character I liked, and during the fairly long chunk when he was MIA, I just wanted him back.

-The ending. I didn’t think Brie was ever going to learn anything or develop at all as a character, but when she finally did, it was quite poignant. She finally learned to listen to other people, and to really see things without just assuming and coming to her own far-fetched conclusions about things.

-Certain things evoked emotion. Once we learn about Patrick and Jacob’s ‘secrets’, I really felt for them. They were both sort of tortured by their struggles, choices, and histories. I also felt for Brie at times, especially when she saw her family and friends moving on without her. It’s easy to imagine yourself in that situation - to worry that they people you loved are going to forget you, watch them make mistakes and know there’s nothing you can do to help, or watch them be happy and know you’re not a part of it and never will be again. That part was heartbreaking.

-It made me think. Even though I didn’t really like the characters and couldn’t relate to them in a lot of ways, I could empathize with them.

What I didn’t like:
-Brie, in the first three quarters of the book. I thought she was really annoying, childish, self-absorbed, and impulsive. She was always jumping to conclusions, and she never gave anyone a chance to really explain things, or to figure things out herself, and it got her into trouble time and again. Her need for revenge was too much at times, and I thought a lot of what she did was petty and downright mean. She never stopped to think about the consequences of her actions, because she couldn’t see past getting revenge. Yes, she was young, and yes she’d been scorned and all that, but still. She had loved the people she was trying to hurt, but she couldn’t see past her own hurt.

-People said this book was hilarious, but I didn’t find it funny at all. And I’m pretty easily amused, so I felt kinda cheated. ‘Your mom’ jokes have never been funny to me, so maybe that’s part of it? I don’t know.

-There were things that just didn’t line up for me - parts that were kind of hazy and confusing. It also bounced around a lot, and there were quite a few diversions that didn’t seem necessary and made the book too long (375 pages isn’t that long, but it took me a week to read, and each time I picked it back up I had to try hard to remember what was going on and where Brie was). And as much as I enjoyed the ending, it didn’t really seem to line up with the rest of the book.

Overall, I just didn’t really connect to The Catastrophic History of You and Me. The concept was great, but for me, it fell flat in too many aspects for me to really enjoy it. I know a lot of other people adored this book, so if you’re curious about it I would recommend giving it a shot.


  1. I think your review completely echoes my reactions to this book. We have chatted about our mixed reactions to this book, but it's great to read your review. I like how you divided up what you liked and what you didn't. :)

  2. I tried the sample for this one and it just wasn't for me at all. I couldn't connect with Brie, which I knew was going to cause trouble if I bought and actually tried to read the whole thing. Kinda disappointing since the idea sounded so fabulous, but sometimes that is how it goes.


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