Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

Title: How to Say Goodbye in Robot
Author: Natalie Standiford
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release date: October 2st 2009
Pages: 276
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads description:
New to town, Bea is expecting her new best friend to be one of the girls she meets on the first day. But instead, the alphabet conspires to seat her next to Jonah, aka Ghost Boy, a quiet loner who hasn't made a new friend since third grade. Something about him, though, gets to Bea, and soon they form an unexpected friendship. It's not romance, exactly - but it's definitely love. Still, Bea can't quite dispel Jonah's gloom and doom - and as she finds out his family history, she understands why. Can Bea help Jonah? Or is he destined to vanish?

First sentence:
Goebbels materialized on the back patio, right before we moved to Baltimore, and started chewing through the wicker love seat.
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I had a feeling I would love this book - I don't what it was, since the description doesn't tell you all that much, but I was just getting really good vibes from this book. And I was right. I loved it from the first sentence to the last.

How to Say Goodbye in Robot reminded me a lot of Sara Zarr's Sweethearts (review). Both are beautifully written and both are about a friendship between a girl-narrator and a male outcast. Bea's and Jonah's connection is the deepest I've read about since Sweethearts, and that's saying something. If you liked Sweethearts, you should definitely read How to Say Goodbye in Robot - if you can take the emotional turmoil again.

The characters are what's best about How to Say Goodbye in Robot. I loved Bea from the first page on - she's the me of the YA book world. I could relate to her so, so easily, and it felt more like I was reading my own thoughts than the ones of a fictional character. (Well, my own thoughts if anything interesting ever happened to me. But still.) Bea is a quirky, one-of-a-kind character. I love the whole robot-thing, since I feel that way sometimes, too.

Jonah is an even more unique and amazing character. I've never read about anyone like him. There's no way to explain him, he's just Jonah. Jonah and Bea's relationship is, God, it's so beautiful. I thought they became friends a little too quickly, considering Jonah's character and his dislike of all things social - after he introduces her to the Night Lights radio show, it seems like they're friends almost immediately, and I would have liked to see some slower development there. But after that... wow. Jonah and Bea's bond is incredibly deep, and it's so amazing to read about. I especially liked reading about all the unique and crazy things they do together. The ups and downs of their relationship are realistic, making me love Jonah one minute and hate him the next, in a good way.

The secondary characters are amazing, too. Bea's situation with her family and the mother's problems added a lot to the story. I like how they're there and a part of what Bea's going through, but I appreciated that that wasn't turned into the main focus of the story. I liked reading about the people at school, too - Tom and Walt and Anne and AWAE. (AWAE stands for Anne-without-an-e, because Ann came to their school later than Anne and therefore doesn't get to be called Ann. It's pronounced "ay-way." Isn't that just the most awesome idea ever?) And of course the people from the radio show - I love the whole idea of the Night Lights show, and the others from the show are all quirky and uinque characters.

Then there's the whole thing with Jonah's family. I don't want to say too much about it, since I really liked not knowing anything prior to reading How to Say Goodbye in Robot and think that's the best way to enjoy it, but wow. The story is amazing, so heartbreaking but beautiful. And let me just say that Jonah's dad is an ass.

I love the whole design of this novel - the cover is unique and fits the story perfectly, and the inside of How to Say Goodbye in Robot is designed beautifully as well.

I also love how much this book talked about college. Why do YA books, even ones that are about seniors, never seem to really address college? Maybe there's one mention of college applications, but that's it. I really liked reading about what colleges Bea applied to and where she and the rest of her class ended up going. Maybe that's just me, since I'm a senior, too, so college is more interesting to me than to someone older or younger, and it was especially interesting to me because a lot of the colleges mentioned are ones I'm applying to or looked at, too. If you're not interested in college, though, don't be discouraged - it's not like Bea talks about college all the time, it's just mentioned every once in a while, and I really liked that.

The ending. Natalie Standiford, you are an evil, cruel person. Yes, it fits the story perfectly, but... How could you do that to my heart? I cried and cried and cried when I finished this book.

With beautiful writing, a unique story, and the quirkiest characters I've read about in a long time, How to Say Goodbye in Robot is a one-in-a-million kind of book. It will make you laugh because of all the quirky ideas and characters, and it will make you cry for the tragedy of it all. Words cannot describe how much I loved this book - just read it for yourself and you'll see.

If you've read this book, what did you think?


  1. I haven't read this book but it sounds good.  Well, except for the ending.  Now I'm now sure if I want to read it.  I'm not a fan of sad, teary endings.  

  2. I read this one last year and I LOVED it. Such a great review of it too!


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