For those who don't know, my day job involves working at a software company, so I hear a lot of talk about programming and apps and all of this stuff. I feel so brilliant when I understand those conversations, and that was a fun aspect of The Boyfriend App. It doesn't get super technical, but one of my best friends is super into app design and hearing all of the ideas and seeing the passion these kids have is so uplifting. Also, it's awesome that there's such a focus on technology in The Boyfriend App, because fiction tends to lag behind on the technological curve, but everything in here is very timely.
Audrey McCarthy loves hacking and programming, taught by her father, who perished in a mysterious accident, for which he was, likely, wrongfully blamed. Audrey and her mother, who is a lunch lady at her school, struggle to make ends meet. Unable to keep herself in the latest fashions, Audrey's not popular at school, but she's totally okay with that, because she has some of the best friends ever, insultingly referred to as "trogs" by her ex-best friend Blake and her cronies.
The characters in The Boyfriend App really shine. Of course, I've got a weak spot for geeky bands of misfits. I love how diverse the kids in this group and in the school as a whole are; this felt a lot more like my high school than most of the ones depicted in YA fiction. Going off on a slight tangent, Sise not only includes characters of various diversities, but she's also not hetero-normative, referencing both lesbian and gay couples.
Anyway, back to Audrey's little group. Nigit and Aidan are programmers like Audrey, and she's crushing on Aidan hard secretly. Mindy, though lovely, is teased mercilessly for her speech impediment. Lindsay, Audrey's cousin, is a fashionista who runs an enormously popular fashion blog. The dialog between all of them is so realistic and engaging. They all feel so real to me. Plus, they're so supportive of one another, and I love seeing a young adult novel with such a strong depiction of friendship, and one where it's a group and not a singular best friend is even rarer.
Okay, so the plot of The Boyfriend App is that Public, a technology company that's totally a parody of Apple runs a contest for high school students to design an app. The two winners will receive $200,000, and Audrey wants to win badly, because this is her only chance to go to a good school and not leave seriously in debt, since she and her mother have a total of $2000 dollars saved. Audrey designs this app intended to help girls find boyfriends, and hijinks totally ensue. There's this one scene in the cafeteria that just killed me, thus why I'm now a zombie. It's over the top in just the right way. Just don't take this book too seriously, because this is comedy and it is good.
What Left Me Wanting More:
At the very end, the book does go in a slightly weird direction. Yes, Sise makes it work, but the plot felt a bit more meandering once the app contest ended. Though a bit more trite of an ending, closing shortly after the announcement might have been more effective, since things got a trifle too serious for the tone thereafter. I also have a few questions about how the Boyfriend App gets information on boys, and a few other niggling questions like that about the app, but that's totally not the point, so I'm going to try to tell my nit-picky self to shut the hell up.
The Final Verdict:
With a sweet romance, laugh out loud humor, and lots and lots of kissing, Katie Sise's The Boyfriend App is a must read for fans of light contemporary fiction. With such a strong debut, you can bet I'll be reading whatever Sise writes next!