When I decided to write a book review for each book I read during the 2018 Challenge, I didn’t exactly think through the fact that I’ll be reading 50 books this year! Needless to say, between packing for a move and actually reading the books, I’ve gotten a bit behind. Nonetheless, I’ve promised book reviews, so book reviews you shall receive!
After reading Kondo’s book and being forced to reckon with the sheer quantity of things I own, I wanted something a little less… personal. So, I moved on to Ned Vizzini’s Be More Chill, which filled the category of “a book that is also a stage play or musical.” It also filled my own personal category of a book my boyfriend has been asking me to read for forever. He had recommended it to me months ago, telling me that it was a YA novel about a teen dealing with high school. Those of you who have read this book are probably laughing now. I had no idea what I was in for.
I’ll provide a small synopsis here, but know that if you haven’t read it and want to experience the same shock I did, stop reading this now and go read that instead. It’s truly fantastic.
Be More Chill follows Jeremy, a high school student dealing with the same thing most high school students deal with: the desire to be cooler. He wants to get through high school unscathed and, perhaps, get the cute girl he likes while he’s at it. After a rocky beginning full of more second-hand embarrassment than I knew what to do with, Jeremy learns about something called a “squip.” It’s basically a pill that you take that activates a computerized voice in your head, which then tells you what to do and say in order to, well, be more chill. The novel is great about explaining the mechanics of this, from the inner-workings of the squip itself to the way that it interacts with the brain. I, however, am not great about understanding them, so if that’s your thing you will have to read it yourself. I could go on and on about all of the interesting things that follow the moment Jeremy gets a squip, but I sincerely do not want to ruin what is an intensely unique and surprising plot, so please just take my word for it, one more time, and read it yourself.
Sometimes when I read YA novels, I find myself making mental notes about how I would teach it in a classroom setting. This book was full of them, though it definitely deals with some mature content and language. It may be a tough sell to get into a classroom, but the overarching theme of a desire for acceptance is something all teenagers (and adults, really) can relate to. I mean, I would be lying if I said I didn’t wish for an instruction manual to get me through high school.
This book is weird and wonderful, and I’d love to share more about it, but I genuinely want you all to feel the same shock and uncertainty that I did as I worked my way through the plot. If you have read this book (or even if you just want to), feel free to discuss it in the comments! I’d love to hear what you think.