The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg
Published: 21 February 2012 by Penguin
Pages: 375 (hardcover)
Genre/s: Young Adult, Paranormal
Source: Own library
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?
When The Catastrophic History of You and Me was coming up to its release date and all the reviews were coming in, I was completely hooked on the idea of this book and immediately put it on my wishlist. Although I'm not the hugest fan of paranormal stories, books that deal with the afterlife are something I find infinitely fascinating. But it took me over a year to actually buy a copy because it kind of got bumped down the list a little.
The Catastrophic History of You and Me doesn't wait to get straight into the story - Brie's death happens pretty quickly and then combines flashbacks with the current day storyline. The flashbacks are not that frequent, and are used to give context to the current storyline, but for me it was the right balance - too many flashbacks probably would have had me a little bored.
Whilst I loved Brie's snarky, smart-arse personality, I didn't immediately feel a lot of affinity with her, or sympathy for her situation. I like my female characters with a bit of baggage, and Brie's 'life' was a little too charmed for me - with a great family and three BFF's, without the quick plunge into the afterlife I honestly would have found her a little irritating. However, Rothenberg does a good job of getting the action going early on and that made me feel more sympathetic towards Brie.
The relationship between Brie and Patrick is incredibly sweet without being overwhelming - they bounce off each other with a natural ease and although Patrick is quite protective of Brie, it's not overwhelming.
There is also an emphasis on Brie's growth which I particularly liked - at the beginning she comes across as a little overly-dramatic, but as she comes to terms with her own death, she also realises some things about her 'previous' life, and how she had actually interpreteded things a little immaturely, and tries to make amends for that.
The afterlife that Rothenberg creates is an interesting one - based on the idea of a personal heaven, with the option to 'zoom' back into the real world and see what is happening to her family and friends is a pull that Brie, understandably, cannot resist. But I did find it became a little too complicated later in the story, and I actually got a little lost and frustrated with this book for a while because it felt like things were made far more complicated than necessary, without a great deal of explanation why.
If I was asked to describe The Catastrophic History of You and Me in three words, I'd say Fun, Cute, Sweet. It's not a book that had me gasping in shock, feeling a little misty eyed or swooning over the romance, but it was a fun read, and one that I would definitely recommend if you need something light and entertaining.