The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project by Lenore Appelhans [ARC REVIEW]

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The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement ProjectGenres: Young Adult,  Romantic Comedy, Meta-Fiction
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Publication Date: March 5th 2019
Source: Netgalley
Format: eARC
Rating: fangirlstarsfangirlstarsfangirlstarsfangirlstars.5
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.

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“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.



  1. Rosie Amber

    March 4, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    I like the idea of comedy around book tropes.

    1. Sam || Fictionally Sam

      March 4, 2019 at 12:28 pm

      I too like the idea of comedy around book tropes

  2. Michelle

    March 4, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    I had the same idea as you! When I read the summary I expected this Stanford wives-like world, where everything is perfect. Actually.. more like Wreck-it Ralph! Where Vanellope is the glitch in an otherwise (seemingly) perfect world. I’m glad to hear it goes deeper than that! I can’t wait to get this book, witty banter and pop culture references are right up my alley 🙂 high five for meta fiction! I loved this review Sam! Definitely moving this one up on my to buy list.

  3. Remy Lux

    March 4, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    I might need to read this.

  4. Isabelle @ BookwyrmBites

    March 4, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    this was so much fun to read together, and I love that we ended up with so many of the same takeaways and general feels! 😂

    1. Sam || Fictionally Sam

      March 4, 2019 at 9:36 pm

      I had so much fun reading this with you!! We seriously need to do it again! Also I am slowly becoming more and more confident that we have telepathic powers and share the same mind. OMG ARE WE VULCAN?! VULCAN MIND MELDS FOR DAYS

  5. Jayati

    March 5, 2019 at 2:33 am

    Great review! The book sounds extremely interesting and something I’d be into. I can not wait for this book to release and for me to get my hands on it!
    Glad you enjoyed the book!

    1. Sam || Fictionally Sam

      March 6, 2019 at 9:10 am

      It is out now! Go forth and be blessed!

      1. Jayati

        March 7, 2019 at 7:41 am

        I’m putting it on my to-buy-immediately list right about now

  6. TheCaffeinatedReader

    March 5, 2019 at 5:31 am

    Well, I’ve added it to my wishlist on Amazon, I thought it would be a really fun read, to begin with, but knowing that it also gets deeper and that everyone has loved it so much that have read it…Yea…it goes on the tbr! I can’t wait to read it, glad you loved it!

    1. Sam || Fictionally Sam

      March 6, 2019 at 9:11 am


  7. Lili Star Reads

    March 5, 2019 at 11:51 am

    This sounds so interesting! It kind of reminds me of Rebel WIlson’s film isn’t it romantic where she is stuck in a romantic comedy. Also what is meta-fiction?

    1. Sam || Fictionally Sam

      March 6, 2019 at 9:12 am

      oooo I have yet to watch that one but it’s on my TBW! and Meta fiction is fiction in which the author self-consciously alludes to the artificiality or literariness of a work by parodying or departing from novelistic conventions (especially naturalism) and traditional narrative techniques.

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