Title: This Is My Brain on Boys
Addie Emerson doesn’t believe in love, at least for herself. A straightlaced, brilliant girl, she’s more interested in getting an A than falling in love. But Addie is determined to prove the science of love—because Addie Emerson does believe in science.
Science tells her that “love” is nothing more than the brain’s state under the influence of certain chemicals. And by artificially stimulating those chemicals, the brain can totally be tricked into falling in love. So Addie decides to apply that knowledge—and make her classmates fall in love—to win the coveted Athenian Award for Science in her elite private school. One way to speed up the process—adrenaline—she’ll put her classmates in dangerous, high-risk situations . . . and research the fallout.
But a mysterious new guy keeps messing with her plans. And she kind of can’t stop thinking about his gorgeous brown eyes. With backstabbing competitors—including her former lab partner, the preppy, wealthier-than-thou Dex—and more than one pair of star-crossed lovers—can Addie manage to salvage her experiment and win the Athenian? And what happens if she does the unthinkable—and falls in love?
I was extremely lucky to receive a digital ARC of this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or the content of this review.
Smart Girls Get What They Want instantly became one of my favorites after I read it, so a new, fluffy contemporary from Sarah Strohmeyer definitely caught my attention. While this book hasn’t usurped Smart Girls as the top Strohmeyer book in my life, it was quite funny and enjoyable and already has me happily waiting for new things from her.
This book started with a bang – or, to be more accurate, a near plane crash. Yep, this comedy starts off with the two protagonists stuck on a plane experiencing horrible turbulence. Needless to say, it starts an interesting relationship between Addie and Kris, the two main characters. That was something else that surprised me – based on the summary, I had assumed that the story revolved around Addie, but most chapters switched back and forth between her point of view and that of Kris, a cute guy who Addie has some interesting feelings for (thanks to the plane trouble, as we’ll quickly learn thanks to her work in the lab) but did something bad related to Addie in the past.
Despite this unexpected addition, I liked Kris’s POV more than I expected. I’m not a big fan of male POVs (I know, I know, bad me), but I didn’t mind Kris’s too much, even though he seemed like a pretty genuine guy to me – and I say that as a girl who has luckily never been in the head of a teenage boy. Maybe it’s because he’s very smitten by Addie – not in spite of her great intelligence, but partially because of it.
And that was definitely one of the best parts of this book – Addie is unapologetically smart. We don’t get to see STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics) female protagonists in YA books, so that certainly makes this book special. Addie can be quite awkward, but she has friends who love her no matter what and do their best to help her function properly in society without changing her completely. I’m not as into science as Addie is, but I can definitely appreciate her love, and I also appreciated the fact that she managed to still have a great sense of humor, even when she didn’t know that she was being funny.
There were only two things that kept me from totally loving the book – withheld information and an abrupt ending. We know almost right away that Kris did something bad that affected Addie and nearly got him expelled, but we don’t know what. I see this happen too much in books – there’s some big dramatic secret, and the protagonist keeps referring to it, but we have to wait unless the book is practically halfway over to learn what it is. I don’t care if it builds up the anticipation, at this point I’m so tired of it and it just frustrates me. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait until the halfway point, but it was still annoying, and there were a few other examples of withholding information throughout the book. By the time we reached the end and knew everything, it felt like it ended a little too abruptly for my taste. I know that some people like open-ended endings, but I like a few more answers from mine.
Overall, though, this was a very fun new outing from Strohmeyer. It wasn’t perfect, but I don’t need perfection from my fluffy contemporaries, I just need plenty of humor and fun characters, and this book certainly delivered on that part.