Sunday, December 23, 2007

"Breakup Babe" by Rebecca Agiewich

Sigh. This is one of those books that Amazon recommended, one that sounded good enough that I had it on my wishlist for a little over a year (long enough that I could finally inter-library loan it). Sadly, it does not live up to the hype created by the almighty online retailer (nor my own anticipation).

Rachel is a young, thirty-something living in Seattle. She's just landed a fairly high-paying job at the same company her boyfriend works at; in fact, his office is just down the hall. Rachel is no stranger to Empire Corp, as she's been working there on and off as a temp for a couple of years. The temp faze is when she met said boyfriend, now forever to be known as "Loser" to the readers of her new blog, "Breakup Babe." Yes, Rachel has also been summarily dumped and now must drag herself into work each day, knowing that Loser is just down the hall. She's not taking the split well and has started the blog in one of her many ways of attempting to cope with her depression, anger, and general disappointment with Loser and his loser ways. (She's also taking some drugs, such as Celexa, "the holy pink pill".

The book has several of the blog entries interspersed with Rachel's daily life. There are also flashbacks of previous losers in Rachel's life, some whom she's not quite over yet, either. We meet her friends, her readers, her co-workers, and even her family. And, of course, we watch Rachel try to get over Loser.

It should've been a really good book. Hell, it should've been a great book! wasn't. I think I can pin it down to two reasons: the layout of the chapters (expositional text interrupted by blog entries) and the character of Rachel herself. Let's take the writing first, shall we? I'm not a professional writer by any means, so keep in mind, this is just my opinion as a reader of a fictional piece. I found it distracting that each chapter had this bi-polar nature about it, jumping back and forth between her blog and her life now (or in the past, as the case may be). I think it would've been better if each chapter had either started with the complete blog entry or ended with it; the interruptions made the whole thing feel disjointed. Plus, since the author chose to also explore Rachel's past, it made for a long book, clocking in at 337 pages. Now, you know I don't mind reading a big book, but for this subject matter, I felt like it ran at least 75 pages too long. I found myself skimming paragraphs to get the drift, then moving on.

The biggest problem with "Breakup Babe" is the babe herself. Rachel, quite simply, is not a likable character, at least, not to me. She whines a lot, doesn't seem to learn from her mistakes (until the very end of the book, which also seemed terribly convenient), and just isn't someone that I could relate to. I wanted to, trust me! I, too, have been a Breakup Babe once upon a time; who hasn't? It hurts, and yes, it's sometimes hard to move on, but this was just ridiculous! I kept wanting to grab her by the shoulders and slap her while shouting "Grow up, already!", much like her inner monologue Sensible Girl (the angel on Rachel's shoulder trying to talk her out of her bad behavior, constantly battling Needy Girl, who leads Rachel down the dark path). Rachel is one of those poor excuses for womanhood who needs a man to feel whole. Ugh!

Overall, I wouldn't recommend this to my readers. It's not very well-written, and the character isn't someone you can relate to. If you feel you must get to know Breakup Babe, look for her blog on this same site; it's still up and running, and will probably be more entertaining.

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