This book and I had so much of a love/hate relationship that it's not even funny. I wasn't originally sure if I wanted to read it or not, but once I found out that it was written by Daniel Handler I just HAD to give it a try. Lemony Snicket's books were probably the second most influential novels of my childhood, only behind Harry Potter. So, I couldn't stop myself from seeing what type of young adult books he would put out. And honestly, I'm still not completely decided on WHAT I think of the novel. For me, it was a whirlwind and I spent moments hating it and ranting in my head about the main character- but then the next, I loved everything about it and was tearing through it like crazy. It's taken me a while just to figure out what to rate it. If I could, I'd give it 3.5 stars, but I had to round down this time. I apologize in advanced, I have a feeling this review will be all over the place.
Let me start out with the positive things about Why We Broke Up. There were a lot of unique, refreshing attributes to it that I haven't seen with many YA novels before. The letter format was interesting and reminded me a little bit of Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why, only it was obviously much lighter and had a different subject matter than Asher's. Also, the plot was very straight forward. There was no messing around- it got straight to the point and I didn't have to read through loads of background information that I wouldn't have cared about anyway. I felt like Handler got into the mind of a teenage girl extremely well. I loved Min's bitterness and how frank she was with her viewpoints. There was no sugar coating to make the book cleaner or look more appropriate. The use of curse words I found particularly interesting. There were a lot, but it wasn't overkill. Handler placed them in all the right places, which just further emphasized Min's feelings. Another obvious positive attribute was the use of illustrations to go with the writing. They were beautiful and well placed- for me, they also kept the book moving at a better speed. Finally, I loved some of the quotes. There were some that had me laughing so hard and others that completely struck me with their seriousness/applications to real life. Props to Handler on that.
Now for the negative parts of Why We Broke Up. I'm slightly biased, because I do love the author, but oh my... If I didn't, I might have been tempted to put the book down at the beginning. As it went on, I got a lot happier with the writing and more used to Min. But the first fifty pages or so were a struggle to get through. If you've read Lemony Snicket before, this was nothing like his writing style from the past. The paragraphs are long and ranty, but not in a good way. Some rants are great, but Min just went off on things that I did not care about. At all. Also, maybe this was just my personal preference, but I thought it focused far too much on her love of films. Nearly every other page there was a reference to something I had never heard of and it was simply lost on me. A few here or there would have been fine, but even at the end I was still bothered by how often they came up. Min herself could also be annoying at times. As I mentioned above, I liked some attributes of her personality (it was great that she was flawed and not perfect like most of the other protagonists out there), but she was also just stupid sometimes. I had to wonder what her logic was, especially pertaining to Al. Finally, my only other problem with this book wasn't really a big issue for me, but I could see other people being angry about it. There wasn't much of a background story or any information about Min's life. It was all about her relationship with Ed. Which was fine with me, but it was a little confusing to start into and if you're the type of person that loves details about the main character, this would definitely bother you.
I could probably go on about the pros and cons of this book forever. There were a lot of little things that were either amazing or extremely irritating. Sometimes the writing style got confusing, because Handler would throw very important things in randomly and if you didn't catch them, it could screw you up later. Essentially- just don't speed read it. In the end, however, I would still recommend this book to everyone. For me, it had a vibe similar to Thirteen Reasons Why and the Perks of Being a Wallflower, so if you liked those, definitely check this out. It's a very different read and lovely in it's own way. If you have trouble at the beginning, stick it out for a while longer and it should get better. I'd give it a go, there isn't much to lose. It's a fun and relatable story, in a nutshell. As a side note though, I wouldn't compare this to any of Handler's other novels. It's completely different. So, don't judge his other works based on this one. They're like black and white. Though, his quirky touches are still evident here if you look hard enough.