Saturday, July 2, 2011

Review: How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford

How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford

Pages: 276
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Published: October 1st, 2010
IBSN:  9780545107082

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?

How To Say Goodbye In Robot was a one of those bipolar kinds of books: quirky and fun at point A, heart-wrenching at point B, and hopeful and inspiring at point C.

Bea is kind of odd. She likes dressing up and recreating movie scenes, thinking about death, and listening to a late-night radio show for old-timers. But Jonah's kind of odd as well, and the two of them form a bond, stronger than friendship, but not romance: still love. But is that bond enough to keep them together?

I enjoy books that offer offbeat relationship dynamics. And while I can't say I genuinely liked either of the main characters (Jonah, too hot and cold. Bea, way too eager to run back to him.), this book definitely fit that criteria. Their friendship was all-consuming, strange, mostly one-sided, but touching.

Natalie Standiford's writing wasn't complex, the ideas and themes conveyed simply. Though I usually like this style, in this case, it made the characters feel juvenille and much younger than they actually were. I was surprised whenever a reference to their ages was made.

The ending was bitter, even though it was kind of predictable. It didn't do anything to help me warm to Jonah, but it did put his character into perspective.

The novel was not the quirky, cheery book I'd expect, but had a surprising depth and richness that I found myself appreciating all the same. However, for me, it missed the mark in some aspects.

I give How To Say Goodbye In Robot a 3 out of 5.