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Genres: Young Adult, Romantic Comedy, Meta-Fiction
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Publication Date: March 5th 2019
Riley lives in TropeTown, where everyone plays stock roles in novels. Riley, a Manic Pixie Dream Boy, is sent to group therapy after going off-script. Riley knows that breaking the rules again could get him terminated, yet he feels there must be more to life than recycling the same clichés for readers’ entertainment. Then he meets Zelda, a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (Geek Chic subtype), and falls head over heels in love. Zelda’s in therapy too, along with several other Manic Pixies. But TropeTown has a dark secret, and if Riley and his fellow Manic Pixies don’t get to the bottom of it, they may all be terminated.
“Even if they are only parts, every part we take on informs our own sense of self. And when we’re forced to live the same quirks over and over, those quirks start to define us.”
This novel was insanely adorable.
A work of contemporary meta-fiction with a splash of romantic comedy, The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project (MPDBIP), follows the story of Riley and the consequences he faces for going off script during a writing session with an author. However, during his government mandated therapy sessions he finds himself falling for one of the girls in his group, which is against the rules in TropeTown. As he grapples with his developing feelings for the new girl, Riley finds out a secret within TropeTown that will cause him to take a journey in discovering who he truly is instead of who everyone claims him to be.
Throughout my time reading this book, I envisioned MPDBIP to be super cartoon like–almost like the children’s show, Lazy Town, everything is golden and happy and sunshine in every corner you look. You have talking animals and a plethora of different tropes that live in this one town, where their sole purpose is to aid authors in their writing. However, TropeTown comes with a lot of different rules (like a shit ton) and a lot of those rules are stipulations of what you can/cannot do and who you can and cannot be depending on the Trope you are.
“We did Pilates together, and she cranked up her book playlist. She said she spent weeks coming up with songs that exude the atmosphere of the piece.” Ava snorts. “It kind of felt like a waste of time, honestly.”
I wasn’t expecting this story to be so deep and thought-provoking as I found it to be as the cast figures out who they are personally instead of who the world tells them they are. Appelhans gives her readers a chance to see how not everyone is what we think they are or should be, and that beyond the lens of labels they are indeed people with full exotic and complex lives–just like we are.
With an ingenious writing style, Appelhans served up witty banter and epic pop culture references (I see you John Green shade) throughout the novel that pulls us into the story even further–keeping us entertained and smiling the entire ride through. The novel is fast paced but you never feel like it’s going too fast that you get sucked out or confused about what is happening within the plot.
Funny, deep, and snarky, The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project is a fast paced story about finding who you are when the world wants nothing more than to label you and keep you in a box. If you are a sucker (like me) for meta-fiction, or even a cute romantic comedy, then I highly recommend this gem!
Read with the amazing Isabelle @ Bookwyrm Bites!
ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. Quotations taken from an uncorrected proof and may change upon final publication.