12 November 2013

Book Review: Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

Title: Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened Author(s): Allie Brosh 
Genre(s): Humour 
Publisher/Date: Touchstone / October 29, 2013 
Series: Stand Alone 

Case Study 
In a four-color, illustrated collection of stories and essays, Allie Brosh’s debut Hyperbole and a Half chronicles the many “learning experiences” Brosh has endured as a result of her own character flaws, and the horrible experiences that other people have had to endure because she was such a terrible child. Possibly the worst child. For example, one time she ate an entire cake just to spite her mother. 

Brosh’s website receives millions of unique visitors a month and hundreds of thousands of visitors a day. This amalgamation of new material and reader favorites from Brosh's blog includes stories about her rambunctious childhood; the highs and mostly lows of owning a smart, neurotic dog and a mentally challenged one; and moving, honest, and darkly comic essays tackling her struggles with depression and anxiety, among other anecdotes from Brosh's life. Artful, poignant, and uproarious, Brosh’s self-reflections have already captured the hearts of countless readers and her book is one that fans and newcomers alike will treasure. (synopsis from Goodreads) 

The Game’s Afoot 
Originality is hard to come by in a day and age where digital fame is so attainable. But blogger-turned-author, Allie Brosh, has managed the impossible—to stand out in the ever-growing vastness of the internet with her award-winning blog Hyperbole and a Half. I mean, who hasn’t wanted to READ ALL THE THINGS?!  


I’ve been a huge fan of the blog for quite some time so I was really excited when I found out she was releasing a book of the same name. I’m usually weary of blog books because many contain a disproportionately large amount recycled content. And while I will admit there are reused posts in Hyperbole and a Half, there is a good balance of old favourites and new material, enough to keep it familiar but still interesting. 

I think what makes Brosh so popular is her self-depreciating humour and the blatant honesty behind it. She acknowledges the hard truths alongside the absurd, is completely upfront about her shortcomings and accepts who she is without ever apologizing for it. These are all traits that I really admire and I think it’s what makes her stories so relatable and, in turn, her blog so successful. There’s also a dark wisdom underlying her work, especially with regard to the segment on depression. Being that I am someone who’s struggled with depression in the past, I can especially appreciate what she’s done here. She takes a concept few truly understand and manages to bring some clarity to it. It’s hard for me to explain what she’s with adequate coherency so I urge you to read it for yourself and see. 

 On top of it all, I can’t forget to mention the accompanying illustrations which are so simplistic in nature that they become effective. These cute yet crude drawings are surprisingly detailed and, even more surprisingly, they’re good. They are good because they are simple. They are simple as to not distract from the overall message. They help to add new layers of meaning and comedy to the story in a way that words otherwise can’t. They are the perfect complement to the directness and the occasional harshness of her storytelling. The combination of Brosh’s pictures and words bring about a whole host of feelings to the reader, from laughter to hope to sympathy and even sometimes sadness. She makes you, the reader, feel things. And isn’t that the point? 

Summary Prognosis 
Hyperbole and a Half is one of the very few successful examples of a blog to book transition. The book is poignant, funny, touching, relatable, creative, if not, a little extreme. But that’s exactly why it’s so funny. She’s a natural-born storyteller, a comic genius and an ingĂ©nue. Brosh’s cleverness is to be admired, as are her killer MS Paint skills. She will push it to the limit, embrace the absurd and in the end, live to tell another story. This is a book I highly recommend to fans of the blog and new readers alike. 


Rating: ★★★★★


Read It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Discuss It: Goodreads | Author's Website

5 comments:

  1. I must read this. That is all.

    How's that for a completely pointless comment? :-D

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    Replies
    1. I like your style, Kat. ;)

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  2. Ha! I hadn't heard of Hyperbole and a Half or the blog either. Sounds unique and that is hard to come by.

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    1. It's very funny and incredibly unique, so I recommend both. Check out the blog first and if you like it, then you'll love the book!

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  3. I keep seeing Hyperbole And A Half pop up EVERYWHERE and you know, I love internet things, so I am pretty sure I will love the ish out of this book. Also, I like when books talk about serious things like depression -- it helps to take the stigma away.

    Also, agree about the simplicity of the comics, it is what makes the READ ALL THE THINGS appeal to me so much.

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