Thursday, September 1, 2016

I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil

I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil
Release Date - September 13, 2016
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 352 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She's starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically-guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it's time to use The Formula for herself. She'll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win her boyfriend back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn't all it's cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity, and fix everything she's messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?
Kate Hudson as Penny Lane, Natalie Portman as Sam, and Kirsten Dunst as Claire Colburn. Odds are if you're a movie buff you've seen a few movies that host the 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' trope. Gretchen McNeil's newest novel tackles that trope and does it without one 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' gracing its pages.

Stereotypes are plentiful within the pages of this novel. There is also a lot of deconstruction of those stereotypes. Many of the characters exhibit qualities that have roots in stereotypes only for them to be shown as a act, or something that the character is purposely doing to prove a point. This is the part where the novel excels and shines. The best person to be is yourself, and that is something that is woven into every single part of this novel. It's worthy or a read for that self positive message alone.

The 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' trope is one that makes most people roll their eyes. When this book first came on my radar I was hoping it would explore that trope and dismantle it. What Gretchen McNeil does, however, is showcase why this type of character is a myth. She doesn't exist in real life and Gretchen ensures we are shown this. Toile turns out to be way more complex than she appears at first glance and Beatrice is used to show how easy it is to set into that role without actually believing in it. It was an interesting look at what people show the outside world, and how there is much more to someone underneath.

The latter half of the story is not as strong as the first half, mainly because it quickly becomes very evident what is going to happen. This novel has a classic rom-com formula at its heart and that is where the story veers off course from what I thought it was going to be. It is very different from Gretchen's other books from the outset but I was hoping for a little more depth in dissecting the tropes invoked in this novel, and have that impact the outcome of the story. That is not to say it is not a fun, charming read because it is. It just was not what I was expecting and that took some adjustment.

Gretchen McNeil's humour is once again on display in full force within these pages. Every single 'Jesse's Girl' reference had my giggling with glee and there are plenty of other laugh worthy jokes and moments throughout. It is a testament to the writing talent Gretchen has that she can move easily from writing horror filled stories to light fare that is on offer here and it still retaining her voice. The writing fits with her other novels and that alone should make it a must read for her fans.

A novel that ultimately showcases that it is better to be yourself than try to be someone you are not. It, for me, started out strongly but did not quite deliver on what was an intriguing premise. It's a fun read if you're looking for something light, fluffy and with a feel good message at its core. 

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