Friday, March 16, 2012

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

Apocalypsies Love is all about me telling you what I loved about a 2012 debut book written by one of the amazing Apocalypsies. I also chat with the author to gain insight into their very favorite parts of their creation.

Today I am spotlighting THE CATASTROPHIC HISTORY OF YOU AND ME. When her boyfriend Jacob breaks up with her, Brie dies of broken heart - literally. Her afterlife includes a guide named Patrick who is there to help her pass through the five stages of grief so she can move on. 

YOU GUYS! THIS BOOK! It killed me. Let me count the ways:

I love inventive premises like this - especially when the execution follows through. In this case, sections are divided into the five stages of grief. In the denial part of the story, Brie is this totally corny cheeseball who wants nothing more than to slip back into her old life. In the anger stage, her whole personality shifts to vindictive as she attempts to make Jacob pay for what he did to her. The bargaining section introduces some seriously scary elements to an afterlife that has up to this point seemed relatively harmless. Sadness - whoa. And finally acceptance - where the book's twist kicks in big time and we find out the real significance of the title.

The afterlife setting. I love to see how authors construct their fictional visions of the afterlife. In this case, we see the side of San Francisco that the dead experience. Rothenberg layers her narrative with imaginative world building flourishes, and though I was never 100% sure of the rules for the D&G (dead and gone), this uncertainly didn't detract from the story.

Brie. Full of flaws but also full of affection (for her parents, friends, and her dog Hamloaf), she comes off as a three-dimensional, real person. There are times you want to dance with her, times you want to hug her, and times you want to slap her.

The love story. It's untraditional. But absolutely riveting, heartbreaking and ultimately satisfying. And that's all I'm going to say about that!

Highly recommended!

Now let's chat with Jess:

What is your favorite scene in the book?
Probably the bonfire scene—when Brie watches her best friends celebrate her sixteenth birthday without her and finally say their goodbyes under a sky full of stars. (And then the next morning, when she uncovers a huge secret she never saw coming.)

What is your favorite line in the book?
I really adore the last lines of the book, borrowed from a poem my grandpa wrote for me when I was fifteen. It was so special to be able to incorporate his beautiful words into the story. He cried when he read the book, and it meant everything to me to know he loved it.

In the midst of happiness or despair
in sorrow or in joy
in pleasure or in pain:
Do what is right and you will be at peace.
In life there is no greater gift than peace,
except love.
May you always have love.

That is so sweet! What setting was most fun to write?
I absolutely loved setting the book in Half Moon Bay, California. It's just one of those places you visit that really stays with you. The sleepy, almost ghostly vibe of the town. The way the light can change in an instant when the clouds and fog roll in from the north. The epic stretches of pacific coastline. It’s just a really magical place.

I definitely need to visit now. Who is your favorite supporting character - one you could see getting a spin-off book - and why? 
 Haha, this one’s easy. Hamloaf! I just miss his sweet doggy face and could totally see him having a whole new set of adventures. Rin Tin Tin’s got nothing on the Haminator.

What has been your favorite part of your publishing journey so far? 
The day the deal happened was definitely the greatest/craziest day of my whole life thus far. But the best thing since has been hearing from teen readers to tell me how much they love the story; that it’s made them laugh and cry and literally hug their copy of the book afterwards. That’s been the coolest, most incredible thing!

Thanks Jess!

THE CATASTROPHIC HISTORY OF YOU AND ME is available now.  Find out more about it at the author's website.

FTC disclosure: I received an ARC from the publisher.  I have had dinner more than once with Jess and plan to again :)


Katja Weinert said...

Sounds different from the YA fiction out there right now. Great review and Q&A, thanks Lenore and Jess

Unknown said...

Wow - I can't wait to read this! It sounds completely unique. Plus, how special that Jess found a way to incorporate her grandfather's poetry. Awesome author interview!

bermudaonion said...

The book sounds like a lot of fun!

Anonymous said...

I was more impressed with this book than I thought I'd be. I was pleasantly surprised by the novel's plot reveals and how all of the elements weaved together. There was very good foreshadowing without being overly obvious. I predicted the first two major plot reveals but not subsequent twists, probably because I was flipping the pages too quickly to find out what happened next. I thought the pacing was excellent. I had an inkling about the ending would turn out but I wasn't sure HOW the author would get us there. (Had she used deus ex machina, I might have thrown the book down.) The mythology of the novel was clever and believable in context. I think teens will be satisfied with the very tidy ending.

I was impressed with how the novel dealt with heavy themes without being overly didactic. The key theme I would choose for this book is redemption.

(commenting as Justine)

Kailana said...

This sounds great!

Sarah said...

Sounds really good, actually a lot better than I thought it would. I was kind of going to just write it off.

Zibilee said...

Oh, this does sound excellent, and very, very different! I like the idea that the story morphs a bit as successive steps of grief are worked through. It sounds like a really amazing book!

Iris on Books said...

I am starting to really enjoy books that feature afterlife imaginings. This is added to my list :)

MonieG said...

I hadn't heard of this book yet and now this is the second positive review I've read today. I MUST read this book!! LOL