Be More Chill
Jeremy Heere is your average high school dork. Day after day, he stares at beautiful Christine, the girl he can never have, and dryly notes the small humiliations that come his way. Until the day he learns about the "squip."
A pill-sized supercomputer that you swallow, the squip is guaranteed to bring you whatever you most desire in life. By instructing him on everything from what to wear, to how to talk and walk, the squip transforms Jeremy from geek to the coolest guy in class. Soon he is friends with his former tormentors and has the attention of the hottest girls in school.
But Jeremy discovers that there is a dark side to handing over control of your life--and it can have disastrous consequences.
This modern-day classic by New York Times best-selling author Ned Vizzini contains photos from the Broadway musical; an introduction by the Broadway showcreators, Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz; and an afterword by New York Times best-selling author David Levithan.
Soon, he learns about the "squip," a computer pill which you eat and which can help you become Cool. He must first obtain the money for it, but then he knows he can be Cool and date Christine. Even in the process of getting the squip, he begins to do things he never would have considered before (e.g. stealing from his family), and then once he has it, the squip convinces him to do things he balks at (e.g. ditching his friend, drugs).
The major themes of the book include what you give up of yourself to become Cool/the cost of popularity and the value of technology- how much you can let it decide your life vs. using it only as a tool (it is not infallible). These can spark some interesting discussions.
What I loved: The plot/idea of the book is really fascinating- imagine a supercomputer in your brain! The discussions that can stem from the book are pretty widespread, including peer pressure, homophobia, sexism, reliance on technology, mental illness (another student mentions cutting), and drug/alcohol use. As a piece of satire, it can really engage readers. Notably, everything does not work out perfectly for the main character, who does learn some hard lessons at the end of the book- and this is also valuable.
What left me wanting more: The main content warnings are difficult things to read but are the same things that can spark some important discussions (e.g. sexism- Pick Up Artist style recommendations from the squip, homophobia- calling things which are deemed uncool as "gay," etc.). It is not always easy to like the characters in the book, but I think this was intentional as a learning tool for navigating social waters and recognizing mistakes.
Final verdict: BE MORE CHILL has broad appeal not only because of the fascinating plot but also for its easy to connect with storyline and relatable high school experience. The story can spark some important discussions, making it an intriguing book for discourse. The tie-in edition includes some great extra content, including a foreward about the making of the musical, as well as some lovely images from the show. Great edition for fans of the musical!