Title: The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project
Author: Lenore Appelhans
Blurb (taken from Goodreads):
Riley lives in TropeTown, where everyone plays stock roles in novels. Riley, a Manic Pixie Dream Boy, is sent to group therapy after going off-script. Riley knows that breaking the rules again could get him terminated, yet he feels there must be more to life than recycling the same clichés for readers’ entertainment. Then he meets Zelda, a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (Geek Chic subtype), and falls head over heels in love. Zelda’s in therapy too, along with several other Manic Pixies. But TropeTown has a dark secret, and if Riley and his fellow Manic Pixies don’t get to the bottom of it, they may all be terminated.
I remember studying meta fiction in university and adoring the concept – this book is definitely self-aware in the sense that it breaks the fourth wall several times. It is what it is: if you enjoy the manic pixie trope then you should enjoy this book.
Also, any writer will read this book and will cringe at the cliches and at the tropes because we’ve all put them in our own stories, but it’s done with such a tongue-in-cheek approach that it totally works. I adored seeing the authors manifest little quirks that are quite well known in the community, such as writing their first draft in which characters nod at every sentence. I laughed out loud several times.
So the general concept of the book was absolutely brilliant. The idea that tropes are called upon by authors to interact with the more developed characters in stories was so interesting. I will remember that concept over what I came to think as the rest of the novel, which in my opinion became filler. I wish there had been less TropeTown and more Author Summons.
At one point in the novel I started hearing the narration in an incredibly high pitch, and the book went from cute and witty to tiring. I was quite ready for it to end. I guess it may appeal to younger audiences, which is strange to me when i consider how meta and self-aware that it is.
I also missed the balance of protagonist VS. antagonist. I feel like there wasn’t a very well defined enemy in this book, and so any drama felt inconsequential.
So overall, I can’t say this book was my cup of tea, but it was definitely witty enough for me to give it a solid three star.
I’d like to thank Lerner Publishing Group, as well as Netgalley, for the free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.