Here’s my I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl review! Keep reading if you like YA rom-coms 🙂
I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil is a contemporary YA novel about three high school friends that are getting tired of the bullied outcasts position, and try to do something about it. The protagonist, Beatrice (also know in school as the Math Girl), comes up with the idea of creating a formula to gain popularity and get ‘untouchable’ status as the cool kids. Then the real problems start when their reinvented personalities get in the way of their friendship, and Beatrice’s Manic Pixie Girl act gets out of control.
Beatrice, by the way, lost her boyfriend to the new Pixie Girl Toile. So you can guess why she was so inspired to reinvent herself as a Manic Pixie too.
Though this novel is not the social commentary/Manic Pixie criticism I expected, it’s still a cute, lighthearted novel with a bit of romance and a lot of learning from your mistakes.
It’s a fun, lighthearted read. I’m not even a big fan of YA contemporaries, but I found myself glued to this book just the way my eyes get glued to the T.V. any time Mean Girls is on. This book is not as funny or quotable as Mean Girls, but it follows the same formula: nerdy unpopular girls turns popular and kinda mean to her friends. Then over-the-top high school stuff happens and she learns a lesson at the end. That’s it. Don’t start this book expecting something new. Read it because you like reading the same tried-and-true formulas but with different characters.
- Nice lessons at the end. So I already told you that Beatrice learns a lesson at the end. I don’t consider it a spoiler because this is the only and most predictable outcome. But anyway. If there are any high school girls out there self-doubting themselves about their worth or their value as a person in relation to their popularity and relationship status, I think they might benefit from reading this.
- Beatrice is not consistent and that drove me crazy! There’s this new girl Toile. She’s a flamboyant and quirky girl that is instantly loved by everyone, including Beatrice’s boyfriend. When the boyfriend (immediately) leaves her to be with Toile, Beatrice tries to get him back by pretending to be a Manic Pixie Girl herself, and beating Toile in her own game. This bothers me because A) Beatrice immediately assumes that Toile’s personality is fake just because she’s popular. And B) Even though she HATES the fake Manic Pixie Girl act, she purposely turns into one herself to get her shallow boyfriend back. She even says that she hates how Pixie Girls only exist to make guys fulfill their fantasies, while taking notes to do exactly that same thing. It made no sense! But whatever, I enjoyed reading about her making a fool of herself.
- Too much hate and not enough redemption. First, Beatrice hates the popular kids because they are dumb and shallow. Then she gets to know them better and still thinks they are dumb and shallow. Then SHE IS dumb and shallow and still thinks she is better than everyone else. I also found Beatrice to be really judgmental in general. Some students that didn’t know her when she was unpopular start saying “hi” and smiling when she turns more extroverted, and she always assumes that they must be fake (rather than thinking “Oh, I started being friendly, that’s why they are friendly towards me too”). I don’t know. I guess it bothers me because she thinks all the well-liked kids have fake personalities and she “proves” her theory by using her Manic Pixie act to get popular.*
*Note: I dislike the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” term as much as the next feminist, because of the implication of fairy-tale-like girls existing out there just to fulfill male fantasies. (Read the apology letter from the guy who coined the term here). But I also want to defend quirky, vivacious, passionate, polka-dot-loving girls out there. This novel kinda throws the message that having a quirky personality is a bad thing and probably just an act to attract attention. And I wholeheartedly disagree with this opinion.
- You are looking for a YA romantic comedy
- You want another Mean Girls-like novel
- You like to read about high school drama and girls having makeovers
- You don’t mind a flawed protagonist
Many thanks to Gretchen McNeil for sending me a copy of her book. I had a really fun weekend reading it 😀