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The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project

Review

The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project

According to my eight-year-old self, you know a book is good if it has a map in it.

Seven years later, I’m compelled to agree --- the Ravenspire books have a map. CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE has a map. The pattern continues with THE MANIC PIXIE DREAM BOY IMPROVEMENT PROJECT, which (you guessed it) has a map.

THE MANIC PIXIE DREAM BOY IMPROVEMENT PROJECT is similar to ASH AND BRAMBLE by Sarah Prineas and THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE by Patrick Ness. If you like Who Framed Roger Rabbit or “The Good Place,” you might like THE MANIC PIXIE DREAM BOY IMPROVEMENT PROJECT.

Riley is a Manic Pixie Dream Boy in TropeTown. He is 17-years-old and likes to write silly love songs on his guitar, memorize French poetry and play darts. He likes pie, free-range chicken and coffee with almond milk (as long as the coffee shop doesn’t charge extra for it).

"The clichés are done in such a clever, self-aware way that they make me smile rather than want to throw the book across the room....The sarcastic, self-aware humor was one of my favorite parts of the book."

Sound familiar? He should. He’s appeared in novels all over the world as a flat love interest who encourages the female lead to take risks. But when he disagrees with his author’s terrible lines, he gets sent to group therapy, along with Zelda, another Manic Pixie (Geek Chic subtype, the most cynical and most likely to have her trope inverted). One more infraction and Riley will be terminated.

But soon Riley, Zelda and the other Manic Pixies in therapy realize that something weird is going on in TropeTown, and they have to get to the bottom of it in order to save their Trope. What happened to Finn, the original Manic Pixie Dream Boy and Riley’s missing best friend? And what does it mean to be terminated?

This may be the most cliché book I’ve ever read. The events of the book sound like something that might happen in an Owl City song and the lines sound like they were stolen from John Green. But I dig it. The clichés are done in such a clever, self-aware way that they make me smile rather than want to throw the book across the room. Riley constantly breaks the fourth wall to express his jealousy of you, the reader, and while he’s supposed to be the stereotypical Manic Pixie Dream Boy, he’s oddly relatable.

The sarcastic, self-aware humor was one of my favorite parts of the book. Another part of the book I surprisingly really enjoyed was the Ava subplot. Ava is a developed character in Riley’s novel. I groaned when a love triangle seemed to begin between Ava, Zelda and Riley, especially while Riley was competing with Rafferty (another Developed character) for Ava’s affections in his novel (yes, it does get complicated), but the conclusion was satisfying and original.

I’d recommend this book to people who are a little tired of the tropes in books and to people who like meta humor. Fans of John Green would appreciate many of the jokes in THE MANIC PIXIE DREAM BOY IMPROVEMENT PROJECT.

Reviewed by Ainsley A., Teen Board Member on March 19, 2019

The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project
by Lenore Appelhans