Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Title: Why We Broke Up
Author: Daniel Handler
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release date: December 27th 2011
Pages: 354
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Source: Bought
I'm telling you why we broke up, Ed. I'm writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened.
Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I had high hopes for this novel. The concept sounded great, and outwardly, the book is gorgeous - arguably the most elegant, fancy-looking book on my bookshelf. But sadly, the actual content of the novel fell short.

The main reason I didn't enjoy this novel is the narrator Min. Min is the whiniest, most annoying character I've read about in a long, long time. I wanted to shake her and scream at her to get over herself because she made such a big deal out of everything. I just couldn't take the melodrama.

Maybe it wasn't even Min as a character but more the nature of Min's and Ed's relationship. If their relationship had been really long and meaningful, maybe I could've gotten why Min is still so upset and whiny about the whole thing. But their relationship lasted just over a month, and it was obvious from the start that they would never work out. The real reason they broke up is withheld till the end, but I for one thought it was obvious from the start, and this reason made the whole book kind of pointless - it's not like Min needs to explain to Ed why they broke up, under the circumstances. And even before the break-up, their relationship was just so.. ugh. It's the typical jock-guy/artsy-girl storyline, and these stereotypes are really all there is to these characters. I didn't see any real connection between Min and Ed, they were just kind of together, and that was that. And that made all the descriptions of the mistakes Ed made as reasons why they broke up seem kind of ridiculous.

Another thing that bugged me were the constant movie references. Generally, I like when characters have quirks like that, and Min's obsession with old movies could have been fun. But it was just too much. So many times, Min would compare her situation to some old movie that I'd never heard of and go on about it for ages, and I just couldn't get myself to care.

All of that being said, I did like the concept of the novel. I like how each chapter is dedicated to one item in the box, liked seeing how random items like that can make up a relationship. I especially liked that we have illustrations of all these items at the beginning of each chapter - I just love when books have illustrations!

I still think that, if the author had written about an actual meaningful relationship, this concept could have worked out great. But this relationship felt very immature and meaningless, making the whole thing feel pointless and kind of ridiculous, and the main character's whiny attitude didn't help. That's why, to me, the novel dragged on; I just couldn't get myself to care about the characters or their relationship. But I guess at least I'll have an outwardly pretty book to keep on my bookshelf now.


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