A friendship-focused YA with only touches of romance
WHAT I LOVED:
The course of friendship, like love, doesn’t run smoothly. Epcot at Disney World nearly broke up my best friend and me in high school, but we talked it out and we’ve now been friends for close to ten years. When Kat and Meg get paired up for their science fair project, their friendship has the same ebbs and flows, arguments and bonding moments that anyone would have with their best friend. It’ll make you appreciate yours more!
The angle of them bonding over their shared interest in the fictional gamer LumberLegs’s videos was familiar as well; I’m a huge fan of a YouTuber named Minx and her wife Krism. Regardless, that activity translated badly to the page. Even being someone who engages in the exact same behavior, reading about it just felt awkward. Maybe it’s because LumberLegs is a clear Pewdiepie copy and I despise that rancid, racist man? Or it’s just weird to read about someone watching videos.
WHAT LEFT ME WANTING:
The downside of the novel is how strong the secondhand cringe is. It took me back to the Actual Worst things from high school, which cut me so deeply that I could hardly stand reading it at times. Stuff like science fair projects, group projects in general, and procrastination-happy people. These things in the book took me back to doing all that and my fury came back to strongly I had to keep putting the book down!
(Seriously, I hated science fair projects so much that because honors science classes from seventh grade onward in my district required each student do one, I demanded to be put in regular-track science classes. I was perfectly capable of science at the honors level and made excellent grades in them, but I refused to endure the science fair projects. It and the Great Debates debacle were just two of my acts of academic self-sabotage. Feel free to ask about the latter, it's both deeply shameful and an impressive display of just how much I've always despised public speaking.)
(The message of that aside is GIVE KIDS OPTIONS. DO NOT MAKE A MASSIVE PART OF THEIR GRADE DEPEND ON A PROJECT THEY ARE NOT COMFORTABLE DOING.)
Kat’s anxiety counting habit grated on me as well. She finds counting like “one elephant, two elephant,” etc. boring. Instead, when she’s feeling anxious and trying to calm herself down, she counts like “one safety, two warm blanket, three LumberLegs screaming because he died in the game,” and it’s just– UGH. NO WORDS. JUST DISLIKE. It’s not the behavior itself that bugs me, it’s her counting method. The behavior is entirely realistic even if my anxiety attacks are too strong to let me count. My experience ain’t everyone’s.
Well, that’s that. Great if you need a friendship-focused YA with only touches of romance on the side (both girls are interested in different boys) and a modern set-up.