I definitely got what McNeil was trying to do here, subvert sexist and homophobic stereotypes by employing them in her plot, revealing their inefficacy and ultimately reminding readers to stay true to themselves. But I found I didn’t love this story, despite wanting McNeil to succeed.
None of the characters, but especially not Bea, felt quite real to me. There was something about the way their dialogue was written mixed with the quality of their thoughts that left me feeling like it was clear these characters were written by an adult who wanted to get a good message across to teens. I almost put the book down in the beginning due to the sheer eeriness of that feeling while reading. However, I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did.
Of course, Bea’s formulas stood out for me the most in this story. Bea created several formulas designed for social situations. The first is to enhance her and her friends’ popularity, and the later are to make up for her mistakes. I found the formulas to be cute and unique in the world of YA literature.
As the theme continues, character development unfolds, and new plot devices come to light, I find myself more involved in these characters lives. I did find myself caring about Bea and her stupid love life, as much as I found myself rooting for all the side characters. The train wreck that reached its climax near the end left me cringing and hoping that there would be enough time for a clean happy ending.
In the end, I could take it or leave it. Happy reading!