In The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise, super-smart, somewhat geeky Audrey McCarthy can’t wait to get out of high school. Her father’s death and the transformation of her one-time BFF, Blake Dawkins, into her worst nightmare have her longing for the new start college will bring. But college takes money. So Audrey decides she has to win the competition for the best app designed by a high schooler—and the $200,000 that comes with it. She develops something she calls the Boyfriend App, and suddenly she’s the talk of the school and getting kissed by the hottest boys around. But can the Boyfriend App bring Audrey true love?
The Boyfriend App (App #1)Featured
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!
1) It's not a major problem, really, but Audrey talked about so many different guys I wasn't even sure who she liked for 1/3 of the book. Like I said, not a big deal, but I found it confusing.
2) What kind of high school (no matter how influential popular girl's daddy is and who she's related to) lets someone get away with bashing a student's head into a dumpster so that she passes out? That's really not okay.
3) No app can promise true love forever and it was my understanding that Audrey was just helping match people up. How can the world be pissed off that some of the relationships didn't work? Some of them did, so there's obviously something to it, it's not a money-back guarantee, though.
4) How am I the only one who seems to have a moral dilemma about messing with the hormones in a guy to make him go all lusty for you? Seriously, not one guy ever complained and most of them had to have known they were "under the influence."
5) Is it just me, or does Public Party seem like a revamped Myspace? Myspace, really??
6)Danny Beaton seems to be the only music that exists.
7) The transitions were clunky. I often found myself wondering if I'd skipped a page or missed a paragraph.
Besides all that, there were some things I liked:
1) Hacking is cool.
2) I liked that not everything was completely tied up in the end, though it was still a pretty happy ending overall.
3) Lindsay and Nigit are adorable.
4) I liked Audrey's group of friends. Nigit was amusing (I find the impromptu Michael Jackson dance/song highly amusing). It was nice to watch Mindy grow into her own a bit. Lindsay is about the best friend/cousin one could ever ask for. Aidan was cool, but he lacked a little bit of character since it seemed he was mostly there for love interest status.
The Nutshell: The Boyfriend App was a potato chip read: good and slightly addictive, but empty brain calories in the end. I enjoyed it and finished it quickly, but I had quite a few problems along the way.
I really liked Audrey! She was a great character! So smart and loyal and still trying to figure things out. Audrey had never had a boyfriend, so she was a little apprehensive. I also really liked Aidan, her best friend, and Lindsay, her cousin. Then there was a slue of supporting characters that were each individual and added to the story. You also have your villains in Blake and her father.
I thought the story would be predictable and it wasn't. There is a sci-fi twist, as in technologically. It added a completely different dimension to the story and it affected everyone. I thought the whole idea of there being an app that could help you find a boyfriend and the way the technology worked was very creative. I could totally see teenagers buying into it. There is one part where it is absolute mayhem and I about died laughing. So great!
There were only two things that I didn't like. One was that I wish Audrey would have had a little more integrity because I felt what she did was wrong and that she should have just exposed the company in some way instead. The other thing is that there were brief, but strongly suggestive parts that I felt were almost just for shock value and those I could have done without.
Overall, this was a very fun and surprising read! It had some great characters and an intriguing plot. I'm curious to see what Sise writes next.
Content: Some innuendo, some strong suggestive content
Rating: 3.5 stars
Original review posted on my blog: http://tressaswishfulendings.blogspot.com/2013/05/book-tour-review-and-giveaway-boyfriend.html
Audrey is really cool and I'd love to spend a day with her and her friends (they're kinda like my friends, except with the coding and what not).
The story line is a first for me. An app building contest for an overrated phone cooperation (ahem, Apple). So. Freaking. Awesome. Honestly, it's an app that I wouldn't mind giving a shot actually (for Android, please!)
I loved that Audrey is smart as hell and didn't underplay that for anyone. Aidan is so sweet! Lindsey reminded me of the closeness that my cousin and I share. Nigit and Mindy are GREAT supporting characters.
Sise knows how to surprise and I was down for the ride the entire way. I was laughing, shocked, and at one point, crying.
I really don't have a single thing to complain about.