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I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl

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From acclaimed author Gretchen McNeil comes her first realistic contemporary romance—perfect for fans of Kody Keplinger’s The Duff  and Morgan Matson’s Since You've Been Gone.

Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She's starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend Jesse dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it's time to use The Formula for herself. She'll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win Jesse back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn't all it's cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity and fix everything she's messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?

352 pages, Hardcover

First published October 18, 2016

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About the author

Gretchen McNeil

30 books1,987 followers
Gretchen McNeil is the author of the YA horror/suspense novels POSSESS, 3:59, RELIC, GET EVEN, GET DIRTY, and TEN (a YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, a Romantic Times Top Pick, and a Booklist Top Ten Horror Fiction for Youth) all with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins. Gretchen’s first YA contemporary I’M NOT YOUR MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL, also with Balzer + Bray, hit shelves in 2016, and her next novel will be the horror-comedy #MURDERTRENDING for Disney/Freeform in August 2018.

Gretchen’s novels have been published internationally in Chinese, Spanish, Turkish, and Czech. The film adaptation of TEN starring China Anne McClain (Descendants 2, Black Lightning), Rome Flynn (The Bold and the Beautiful), and Callan McAuliffe (Flipped, I Am Number Four), directed by Chris Robert for Rain Maker Films, premiered on Lifetime on September 16, 2017.

Gretchen is repped by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, Ltd. You can find Gretchen on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and on her website.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 295 reviews
Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
592 reviews3,540 followers
October 25, 2016
4.5 stars

"Toile's type is heroin for a guy like Jesse."

"And what type is that?" I asked.

Spencer laughed. "Duh. She's a manic pixie dream girl."

I alternated between two expressions while reading. Going "Awww!" or having a big fat grin plastered on my face.

Fine, they're the same thing. I'm a little stuck for ideas on how to communicate the utter magic and intense teenage joy I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl brought me, so in honor of the protagonist Bea's nerdiness, I'm making a list.

1. It's unbelievably adorable

Younger YA readers would compare it to Anna and the French Kiss or Fangirl. Being the old soul that I am, I would liken it to Meg Cabot's How to Be Popular in style and plot. Both are about a girl who remakes herself to climb the social ladder, then eventually realizes being herself was the solution all along. It's a classic chick flick formula for a reason. McNeil executes it brilliantly and took me back to my tween days, lying on my bed reading Cabot.

Then there's Spencer. Le sigh. Spencer.

He's the boy who isn't afraid to call the heroine out on her bullshit or cheer her up when she's down. The one who loved her long before she was anyone but herself.

Excuse me a sec.

2. Murders the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, stuffs it and hangs it above the mantelpiece

"The wacky outfits.

The unexpected actions.

The positive feedback loop.

The relentlessly sunny disposition.

Manic pixie dream girl was a formula."

Margo Rothman can suck it. This is how you subvert a sexist plot device that's been around since the 20th century. By turning it into a tool.

The gist is Bea loses her boyfriend to the quirky new girl Toile and decides to win him back by transforming into a pixie girl herself. New wardrobe, new personality, new everything. Think Gone Girl meets the TV series New Girl, which is an another amazing example of turning the tables on the trope.

The Pixie Girl's purpose is inspire the male protagonist. This is Bea's story. This is Bea using something originated for the male gaze to get what she wants. Along the way, she discovers who she is as a person.

Spencer isn't left out either. He's not a Pixie Boy and goes through a character arc of his own.

Also, this quote:

"That manic-pixie-dream-girl thing isn't total crap, you know. You can inspire someone without sacrificing yourself in the process."

3. Yassss, feminism!

It handles the feud between Bea and Toile so beautifully. There's minimal girl hate and slut-shaming. Bea eventually questions whether she's pretending to be "Trixie" (her Pixie Girl name) to get Jesse back or just to beat Toile.

That prom scene is magnificent. You'll see what I mean.

4. The diversity

Bea's mother is Filipino, making Bea half-Filipino. There's a sweet, thoughtful portrayal of gay stereotypes, too.

5. Complex familial relations

Bea's relationships with her parents both play a part in her character arc. They're divorced and she splits her week between her mom's and her dad and his new wife's. No wicked-stepmother storyline; Bea and her new stepmother get along quite well and it's heartwarming how everything works out.

Don't kill me for being vague. It's a plot that has to be experienced, not summarized.

"Women are not on this planet exclusively to inspire men and make them happy. We have our own dreams and needs, our own shit to get done. We run companies, countries, international organizations. We're not props, and we're certainly not here to cater to men's egos."

This book just makes me embarrassingly happy.

ARC provided by Edelweiss. Quotes taken from an uncorrected galley proof and may be subject to change.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,444 reviews7,535 followers
December 2, 2016
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

3.5 Stars

As soon as I saw my friend Peach reading this, I knew I had to get a copy of it immediately simply for that title alone. You’re all familiar with the Manic Pixie Dream Girl by this point, right? If not you probably live on Mars, but here’s a description for you . . . .

“A manic pixie dream girl is a character trope: a quirky, effervescent female who walks to the beat of her own drum and makes the male lead feel like she’s changed his world.”

“What else does she do?”

“Not much.”

Or, in other words . . . . .

My reaction to this type of girl?????

Be it on television or on Goodreads I have zero room in my life for this vapid waste. I know, I know that makes me a real woman hater. Guess what?????

I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl was right up my alley. When Beatrice’s boyfriend ditches her almost immediately after new student Toile pirouettes into class and her besties Spencer and Gabe appear to once again be on the receiving end of a year-long smackdown by the jocks, Bea does what she does best – creates a mathematical formula that will assure the trio's happiness in high school . . . .

“Or, in layman’s terms:

(1) Find the niche.
(2) Play the role.
(3) Fill the void.”

For Gabe that means he’ll have to find a way to channel his inner gay bestie, Spencer will need to unleash his brooding artist, and Bea will become Trixie – a manic pixie dream girl. Bea figures it should only take a couple of weeks for The Formula to work and once she gets the guy and Spencer and Gabe cease being a couple of punching bags they can ease back into their normal personalities. That is, until The Formula doesn’t end up being as foolproof as Bea thought and she risks not only losing her real self, but everyone she loves (or didn’t even know she loved until it was maybe too late) in the process.

The blurb says I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl is “perfect for fans of Kody Keplinger’s The Duff and Morgan Matson’s Since You've Been Gone." I can confirm fans of The D.U.F.F (like myself and Erica) are probably going to have an A-okay time with this one. I haven’t read Since You’ve Been Gone only because of . . . .

Simply reading the title will have that song in my head for a minimum of 87 hours.

I realize I’m not the target demographic for stories like these. For me they are pretty much the equivalent of . . . .

They have zero nutritional value, they definitely don’t improve my I.Q. after finishing them, and they make me super angry I was stuck with Sweet Valley High as a kid when I could have been reading this kind of awesome fluff instead. Being that I’m ancient I’m also amazed at the polarized viewpoints the younger set have upon reading this kind of nonsense. I GUAR.AN.TEE. there will be a crapton of young’ins who think Bea is an asshole – and I’ll tell you from the perspective of a grown-up she totally kind of is but not because she’s a “shamer” or whatever-the-eff the term of the week is that people will choose to call her . . . . .

Seriously. Dislike the book because it’s the equivalent of eating an entire gallon of ice cream, but at least see the point it’s trying to make that you shouldn’t change for anyone. (This goes triple for all of you "manic pixies" out there because that personality DOES. NOT. ACTUALLY. EXIST. IN. NATURE. Be yourself!) There’s even the little bonus of true love being right before your eyes the whole time to make you get the warm and fuzzies . . . .

I'm telling if you if this thing becomes a movie - which, once again, it totally should for the title alone - I will watch the SHIT out of it.
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,723 reviews1,278 followers
September 26, 2016
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

“A manic pixie dream girl is a character trope: a quirky, effervescent female who walks to the beat of her own drum and makes the male lead feel like she’s changed his world.”

This was a YA contemporary story about a girl who tried to stop her friends being bullied by using a mathematical formula.

Bea was an okay character, and it was noble of her to try and help her friends to become more popular and avoid bullies, I could understand why none of them really understood her mathematical formula though.

The storyline in this was about Bea trying to find a solution to a bullying problem by reinventing herself and her friends to be the sort of people that would be valued more. She also tried to reinvent herself to become a manic pixie dream girl to try and win her boyfriend back, but she was kind of clueless when it came to romance really. The book was entertaining, if a little cringe-worthy in places, and it was nice to see Bea change as the story progressed.

The ending to this was okay, and things seemed to work out fairly happily.

6.5 out of 10
Profile Image for Tijana.
312 reviews148 followers
March 19, 2020
This was absolutely unrealistic and ridiculous, and I was almost fully on board with it!

Probably the only thing that got my eyes rolling is the fact that the least popular girl in school became the most popular one, simply by changing her style and starting to say hi to everyone and speak/laugh really loud(???)
I mean, just think about it for a second: imagine that unpopular girl from your highschool, the one whose name hardly anyone knew. Now imagine her coming to school one day with a new haircut, wearing two different shoes. Do you see everyone instantly starting to copy and accept her? No?
Well, in Gretchen Mc Neil universe, it's completely realistic.

All the other highly-unlikely-to-happen-in-real-life events were pretty enjoyable.
Profile Image for Briar's Reviews.
1,824 reviews506 followers
August 7, 2022
I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil brings back those old glamorous teen rom-coms to mind, like Mean Girls, John Tucker Must Die, She's the Man, and Easy A.

This book is a delightful 2000s inspired rom-com-esque read that brought back all the nostalgia for me. It's fun, silly, comedic, packs the drama, and has a hint of romance. What do you do when some new manic pixie dream girl steals your man? Revenge! And if you're a nerd? With math! This book brings friendship, romance, and high school drama into one epic story. I definitely recommend!

Also, for.a 2016 book this is SUPER diverse and brings up the problems with stereotypes.

Four out of five stars!
Profile Image for Kim at Divergent Gryffindor.
470 reviews132 followers
July 30, 2016
The concept for I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl’s concept is not that unique as I have seen it in other books like This is My Brain on Boys and The Boyfriend App but the author definitely made it unique in her own way. That said, I should probably avoid books like this in the future - books where the girls use some kind of academic knowledge in real life and things fail. Sometimes the character tends to seem robotic in this book, and although the author manages to make things unique, I find that they can be predictable, or as predictable as can be when it comes to contemporary. For the most part, I did enjoy this book, it’s just that I realized that this type of book is not for me.

I learned at the beginning of this book that the main character’s mother is a Filipina, and that made me really excited about the book. It’s quite rare that I see any Filipino characters in the books that I read, so it was a fantastic surprise! Bea’s mom also use Tagalog words like Anak, and I really saw the Filipino culture in her. Bea’s parents are also divorced but I liked that she has a good relationship with both of them, and even with her stepmother. She even lives with both her mom and dad on different days of the week, so they really get to spend time together.

This book focuses on a certain formula that Bea uses to make her and her two other friends popular because a new student, Toile, stole her boyfriend from her. It follows their transformation, as well as the new drama that emerged resulting from that transformation. I found Bea to be naive and heartless at times, but I realized that it’s understandable, given that this is set in high school.

My main issue with this book is that I didn’t connect with the story nor the characters. Overall, I actually found this book quite entertaining because a lot of things happened, but I just couldn’t fully enjoy it because I couldn’t connect. Sometimes it felt like there was too much drama going on and the friends were constantly fighting, but for the most part it was entertaining, like from a detached point of view. See, I found the drama entertaining! What is wrong with me?

Anyway, I liked the tension in the romance aspect, but that was about it. This book is kind of a ‘meh’ read for me. I mean, I read the book and didn’t exactly feel bored, but I didn’t feel excited either. I enjoyed it, but not that much. I just wished that I connected with it so I could give it a higher rating.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,709 reviews703 followers
September 30, 2016
I've always been a huge fan of Gretchen's, so I was super excited to see what she came up with for her first contemp without murdery goodness. And she definitely delivered.

I love love loved Bea and Gabe and especially Spencer. They're all awesome characters and I think we would have an amazing time getting arrested. I truly enjoyed being in Bea's head and seeing how she was all math all the time. It was amusing {and a bit exasperating} that someone so smart could be so stupid, but I was throughly entertained watching her figure things out.

As always, there's some delightful and mildly random reference and this time it's a song and it's perfect. This will definitely be a book I read over and over again.

**Huge thanks to Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss for providing the arc in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for Colleen Houck.
Author 37 books8,964 followers
February 7, 2017
I loved that the heroine is a math wiz. You just don't see enough of those in YA literature. This was a fun journey with the heroine and I admire her bravery. Don't think I could have pulled something like that off. I related to her on so many levels.
Profile Image for Mindy.
99 reviews3 followers
September 20, 2020
I thought this would be a subversive, feminist look into manic pixie dream girls, but it was the exact opposite. Bea is Not Like Other Girls and is the world’s most unlikable protagonist. Everyone was unlikable in this book, actually.

I also loooved how Bea used fun insults like “pussy” and “skank.” A super fun feminist read for the whole feminist family. Not.
Profile Image for Rhianna.
459 reviews86 followers
August 16, 2016
Too problematic to earn a rec from me.

The whole concept of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is controversial. Do a little Googling and you're going to quickly realize what a sexist term it is. So I thought this book might be an enjoyable commentary on that sexism and the problem with it. Alas, it isn't.

I'm usually the champion and defender of unlikable heroines but this time I just can't make myself do it. I liked the idea of this book but once I had it in my hands and started to read I quickly realized I hated Bea. Sadly, my hatred of Bea got worse and worse to the point I almost stopped reading and went with a DNF. To put it quite bluntly... Bea is a horrible person. The way she treats her friends, her boyfriend/ex-boyfriend, her stepmother and parents, and especially Toile, just disgusted me. She's arrogant and the way she uses her friends was totally cringe inducing. If the novel has resolved with a feeling that Bea had truly grown or learned from what she did I might have liked it but I just wasn't feeling it.

While I won't encourage anyone to steer clear of INYMPDG—problematic books deserve to be read—I definitely will not be recommending it. It just left me with too strong of a negative feeling.

Notes: ARC received via Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Jen Ryland.
1,480 reviews900 followers
October 19, 2016
Read more of my reviews on YA Romantics or follow me on Bloglovin

I've read all of Gretchen McNeil's books and there are always aspects of them that I enjoy. She has a lively, funny writing style and is always switching up genres.

I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl had its appealing points, but also some things I didn't enjoy. At times, it felt to me like this book was a bunch of classic movies (Mean Girls, Election, Garden State, Clueless, Revenge of the Nerds) thrown into a blender and then poured into a computer. There were two main plot strands: 1) a romantic "win the guy back" plot, which I was really not feeling for most of the book, and 2) a plot about Beatrice trying to win a college scholarship by making a mathematical formula by which high school nerds can reinvent themselves. At times the two plots worked together, as when Beatrice reinvented herself as "Trixie" to win her guy back, but at other times I thought these two plots were sort of moved on parallel tracks.

Beatrice was, for the most part, hard for me to relate to. Yes, she's smart, but she's also not the nicest person on the block. She schemes and she plots. She's bossy and egotistical. At times, she treats the people in her life as pawns. The romance was all over the place. As the story starts, Beatrice is madly in love with Jesse. I guess the blah-ness of their romance was part of the plot, but I didn't get what she saw in Jesse or why she wants him back after he dumps her. I'm really not a fan of the "winning the guy who dumped me back" plots because ... why? Why do you want to grovel and connive and get back a guy who didn't know the value of what he had? Find a better guy.

I also didn't love the fact that all the characters in this book start off as the most extreme stereotypes (the math nerd, the popular girl, the gay best friend, and, of course, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.) Yes, they do finally break out of their stereotypes, but that happened at the 95% mark on my kindle. Plus, I felt that the book's message on self-acceptance was all over the place. You should be yourself. But if your family moves a lot, it's okay to reinvent yourself. If you reinvent yourself, you might be elected class president (I seriously doubt that). But if you do reinvent yourself, you might lose all your friends.

By the end, "Trixie" learns her lesson about being nice and being herself and getting the (right) guy. But getting there was a bit of a bumpy ride!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a free advance copy of this book for me to review.
Profile Image for Viktoria Winter.
105 reviews448 followers
August 2, 2016
I received an ARC from the publisher, and that in no way swayed my honest opinion.

If you're a fan of high school comedies like Mean Girls or Clueless, this is the one for you. It was quirky, funny, and a little dark at times. But I enjoyed it nevertheless! (Full review to come soon.)
Profile Image for Stephanie.
914 reviews4 followers
June 19, 2017
I'm not sure if this was a clever commentary on problematic tropes or an enabler. Yes, the MPDG is called out and addressed, but all of the other characters are also stereotypes. The best friend who is secretly in love with the heroine and everyone knows it, the gay best friend who is not your typical homosexual (and the boyfriend he's ashamed of at first but embraces by the end), the parents who are basically children themselves, the well-meaning but clueless step-parent, the arch-nemesis for no particular reason, the vapid popular clique and brainless jock bullies...
The writing was good and it was a fast read, but the tropes within tropes got old real fast.
Profile Image for Laurence R..
617 reviews87 followers
January 6, 2017
I liked the idea of this book, but it developped into something similar to many other books. Still cute, though!
Profile Image for kory..
1,056 reviews109 followers
September 14, 2018
I knew this book was either going to be such a good twist on a shitty trope that I would absolutely love it or it would be such a fucking mess that I would hate it so much my breasts would ache with rage.

Spoiler alert, it's the second one.

I don't know where to start, so let's just drive right into the juicy stuff, shall we?

(An own-voices review of the Filipino rep.)

• Ableism. There are ableist slurs/language throughout the entire book. Addiction is used as metaphor a few times. The biggest example of ableism in the book is intellectual ableism. Largely from the main character. "Based on the remedial level of the textbooks you're carrying and your obvious lack of adequate adult role models as exhibited by your behavior, I estimate you have an eighty-five percent chance of living with your parents until you're forty. So have fun with that." Did she have to throw other people under the bus to put the bully in his place? Remedial level? Living with your parents? Nothing wrong with either of those things. Some people have learning disabilities and some disabled people need to live with their parents past the socially acceptable age. Also, you cannot make a general ableist statement and then defend it from criticism by saying obviously they weren't talking about disabled people, so don't even. She makes so many insults and digs at her perception of other people's intelligence that I can't even list them all. Other characters dabble in this as well. Beatrice also says she "prided herself" on her perfect attendance, and the whole system of being rewarded for having no absences or tardies is ableist.

• Gabe. Gabe's purpose in this book is to "defy" gay stereotypes. How does he defy gay stereotypes, you ask? By...becoming them...to get what he wants...I guess. Beatrice, the main character, decides that in order to not be bullied, Gabe has to become the epitome of gay stereotypes; flamboyant, straight girl's Gay Best Friend, loud and sassy, flirty in a way that borders on inappropriate, super fashionable. So, Beatrice's solution to Gabe not being bullied anymore hinges on flamboyant gay kids being accepted and embraced in high school. To that I say, in what fucking world? This feels like a slap in the face to every "stereotypical" bullied gay kid.

In addition to that part of the story just not making any fucking sense, it rubs me the wrong way how Gabe mocks the flamboyant gay stereotype. There are innocent gay people who "fit" that stereotype, and they don't deserve to have their personality and style and entire being used and mocked because other people took traits in one or some people and thought it represents an entire identity and played it up to the point of an offensive caricature.

If Gabe defying gay stereotypes relies on him mocking and putting down flamboyant/sassy/colorful gay guys, (after pretending to be flamboyant, he says he should lose his gay card and is blatantly disgusted) then he isn't defying stereotypes. He's just shitting on other gay guys and probably has some "I'm not one of those gays" internalized homophobia going on. Kurt, Gabe's love interest, is the only one who expresses issue with Gabe's "persona", saying that it sets LGBTQ gains back thirty years and makes him feel ashamed every time he doesn't speak up about it. Kurt then goes back on that by doing the exact same thing as Gabe under some questionable and definitely unsolicited advice from Beatrice.

If you want a gay character who defies stereotypes, might I suggest Cam from Modern Family? He is dramatic, sassy, loud, wears fun shirts, but he's also a very hands on sporty guy, who played football in high school and then became a high school football coach. His defiance of gay stereotypes isn't the absence or mockery of them, but the presence of them along with some of the things people who buy into those stereotypes see as mutually exclusive from them.

While on the topic of the gay rep, there are slurs and gay antagonism in the book. Two character whoa aren't gay (the main and second best friend) use slurs when recounting what the school bullies say. Just because you're recounting what someone said doesn't make it okay for you to say it. I swear, authors just love putting slurs in their book for no reason other than using the words. The main character and friend didn't have to actually use the words, and since it's said that the bullies didn't hate Gabe because he's gay, but because he got the coach fired, the author didn't need the bullies to be saying anti-gay shit. It's just unnecessary all around. Also, the use of the word "fey" is questionable. If it had been Gabe who was using it for himself, maybe. But the main character using it to describe Gabe's persona? No. Gabe using it describe his persona, given his very low opinion of the people he's pretending to be like? Fuck no.

• Beatrice. The main character is awful. She's an elitist, ableist, judgmental, selfish, entitled, controlling, girl hating hypocrite. She judges and insults people she doesn't even know for every little thing, including not being in love with math like she is. She looks down on everyone who she deems less intelligent than her. She condemns people for lying when that's all she does. She treats her friends like shit. She forces her friends into her pathetic popularity scheme and then acts like they're the bad guys for being upset with her when she fucks it up. She does nothing but hate on other girls. She literally stalks another girl and then publicly humiliates her. She slut shames her mother and the women her father cheats with. She acts like she hates all the popular kids, when really she's just bitter that she isn't them. She tells her boyfriend to stop hanging out with another girl and then gives him an ultimatum. She claims she knew her friend was in love with her, but only goes to him to confess her feelings after he starts dating someone else. She mocks her mom for how she deals with breakups, when she was doing the same thing. She acts like her outcast status was the fault of everyone at school, when we see that she just decided they weren't worth the effort and closed herself off to them. She had "dozens and dozens" of friend requests from classmates, but ignored them all. Her outcast status that she was so bitter about was of her own doing, but we're supposed to feel sorry for her because she gets called "Math Girl"? Seriously? She thinks transferring schools or getting homeschooled because of bullying is cowardly. She uses Spencer and kisses him without consent to make her ex jealous. Right to the end of the book, she continues to justify her shitty behavior and act like a victim of her own choices. I can't even give her points for putting aside her unjustified hatred of Toile so they can tell Jesse to fuck off and telling Toile that she deserves better, because that's like...the decent thing to do. She doesn't get points for being a decent person for once. Same with her president speech. She did the bare minimum, she's still trash and doesn't deserve the happy ending she got.

• Girl hate. I mentioned that Beatrice did nothing but hate on girls, but let's get into it. I read in a review that there was no girl hate and I'd like fight the person who said that bold fucking lie. Beatrice constantly judges and hate on girls at school and it starts getting worrisome when Toile enters the picture. Beatrice's boyfriend dumps her for Toile and that's when Beatrice announces that she hates Toile's guts. Beatrice's popularity scheme goes from getting her ex-boyfriend back to "beating" and "ruining" Toile. She doesn't want to be president until Toile says that people like her more, and suddenly Beatrice wants it just to beat Toile. When Beatrice finds out that Toile's persona is as fake as her own, instead of that bringing them together, it makes Beatrice want to expose her. After an illogical assumption on Beatrice's part, Beatrice very loudly and publicly calls Toile a bitch and says she's going to take her down. She then stalks her online and posts personal details and pictures of Toile to her social media, to publicly expose humiliate her. When Beatrice's life starts to unravel, she blames it all on Toile.

• Gracious use of pussy. Not only do the bullies call other guys pussies, but our lovely main character, Beatrice does too. "You're a giant pussy. [...] Let me know when you've grown a pair." I held my fist out in front me, parallel to the floor, then opened my palm and pantomimed dropping a mic. Are we supposed to cheer this on? A woman using pussy to mean weak and balls to mean courageous? (He ends up thanking her because her words made him ask Toile out. Because what will kick a man into gear faster and more efficiently than calling him a pussy? Also, he ends up with Toile? He fucking harassed and stalked Beatrice the whole book. He's a fucking creep. No thanks.)

• Manic Pixie Dream Girl. I get what the author tried to do; take a shitty misogynistic trope and have a female character turn it into a formula she can use for her own gain. But it just...doesn't work, because that gets lost in the other "MPDG" in the book and the main character's desire to destroy her. If it had just been Beatrice using this trope to her own benefit, maybe it would have worked. But that goal gets lost in girl hate. Beatrice hates Toile for supposedly being a MPDG, but she's a girl with her own agency who isn't any more MPDG than Beatrice is. Beatrice refuses to see beyond the fact that this is the girl her boyfriend left her for, so obviously she has no goal in life other than stealing boyfriends and she must be exposed and destroyed. But shocker! This girl with nothing in her head other than ideas of stealing every girl's boyfriend is actually using the MPDG trope to fit in at her new school and have a decent school year. Just. Like. Beatrice. Yet, for some reason Toile is still vilified after we find this out. And once the scumbag boyfriend is out the picture, Toile is tossed another guy and seemingly forgives Beatrice. Why? I have no idea.

Another aspect of the MPDG thing that I can't get behind is the weird meta take on it. A character in a fictional work calls out a fictional trope and thinks a person in her life is that trope? I...what? She watches movies to see examples of the trope, which makes sense as those are fictional works to her, but saying a person in her life is a fictional trope makes no sense. In Beatrice's "formula" for a MPDG she has: "childlike playfulness, outlandish clothes, preferably matched with wild hair dye, exhibits noticeable "wacky" quirks and antics of which she seems wholly unself-aware, thinks about the world in a new and unique way, overly friendly, bordering on flirtatious, spontaneous, especially with displays of affection, never embarrassed or shy, laughs off faux pas, single-minded goal: male wish fulfillment" but outside of fiction written largely by men, those are just random traits girls can have. Those don't make real girls into fictional tropes. Again, I'm talking in Beatrice's world, to Beatrice, Toile can't be a MPDG. A human being cannot look at a female human being and decide that their one goal in life is male fulfillment based on your own misogynistic interpretation of their behavior. Which is what Spencer, Gabe, and Beatrice do to Toile when they declare her a MPDG. Maybe it's supposed to be this weirdly meta, I don't know, but if that's the case, I'm clearly just not a fan.

(Also annoyed that Zooey Deschannel is given as an example of a MPDG. One, she's a real person. Not a fictional character who fits a trope. Two, they say she's on a sitcom, which is not the work of her's that fits the trope. New Girl is how you defy the MPDG trope. (500) Days of Summer, on the other hand, is the MPDG trope.)

• Amisia. "Just friends" is used a bunch. Do I really have to keep explaining why this is harmful? Friendship is not less than romance. There is nothing "just" about it. Friendships can be equally as, and even more, important and meaningful and fulfilling as romantic relationships. Beatrice also says that because she's a girl and Spencer is a guy, it's "natural" that she'd have thoughts about kissing him. Which...no. Let's not frame kissing or other physical/potentially sexual contact as "natural" for people. Because some people don't have any interest in or aren't comfortable with that, which does not make them unnatural.

Other Bullshit:

• Beatrice catches her dad cheating and complains about how he's almost fifty, not some teenager who can't control himself and like...let's...not continue the narrative of teenage boys not being able to control themselves, thanks.
• A comment about gender that adheres to the gender binary.
• Beatrice's mother slut shames the woman her husband cheated on her with.
• The idea that men who cheat are just manipulated by the wiles of man stealing women. The idea that women "steal" men from other women, rather than men make the choice to fuck around on their girlfriends/wives, often lying not only to them but to the women they're cheating with.
• Spencer makes two comments related to gayness, one a sarcastic remark about how pretending to be gay will make the bullies stop hurling anti-gay slurs at him and one using the term "outing" in regard to Gabe being revealed as the secret president candidate and both times he looks at Gabe after and says "no offense" and it just...strikes me as odd. Why is he saying no offense, he didn't say anything offensive? Does he feel the need to like, apologize to his gay friend whenever he mentions gayness in the slightest way? I just don't get it.

So, yeah. Nope. Nope. Fucking. Nope.
Profile Image for Christina Tremaine.
Author 5 books37 followers
March 5, 2018
Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She's starting senior year at the top of her class, she's a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she's got a new boyfriend she's crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend Jesse dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it's time to use The Formula for herself. She'll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win Jesse back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

I have to admit, I didn’t start off liking this book and it took me until halfway through before I really started to like and enjoy it. The pacing was a huge issue for me in the beginning. It felt like the storyline was crawling until Bea came up with the formula and then the book took off.

Although I admire the author's attempt at breaking down stereotypes, I feel the book actually played into them. I enjoyed the characters and felt they were well established.

The plot was way different than anything I’ve ever read before. I was intrigued by Bea's theory and how she invested a lot of time and effort into it. The plot had good twists so it kept me on my toes. The ending was a little bit cheesy but still worked.
Profile Image for Alex.
46 reviews
November 28, 2016
This read like a corny after school special with the occasional swear word thrown in, which made the tone about as confusing as it sounds.
Profile Image for Alison.
548 reviews3,654 followers
February 11, 2017
3.5 Stars

This wasn't what I was expecting (but don't ask me what exactly I was expecting, because I still don't know). It's about a girl who is nerdy and her two best friends and her get bullied. They find a formula to becoming cool and she discovers Manic Pixie Dream Girl tropes and becomes one to steal her boyfriend back.
I think I was first annoyed by the girl who comes to their school and is the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" who is honestly weird and flamboyant and she is automatically accepted as cool. First off, I was that girl in high school. I will have you know, I was most certainly NOT cool. I was exactly what I described, weird and flamboyant. Just add annoying and that is what this girl was and what the main character ends up becoming.
I was also slightly annoyed that the main character was so judgemental despite not wanting to be judged by others, plus near the end she didn't want to take responsibility for her actions. This might be because this does take place in high school, and therefore she is suppose to be immature, but I didn't care for it.
It wasn't as noticeable as I'm making it sound though. I swear I did enjoy this book (I read it in one sitting!). The rest of the characters are pretty great (despite the boyfriend she is trying to win back, what does she even see in him?) and I really enjoyed that they were part of her experiment and fought like real high school friends do.
This is still a contemporary romance, don't get me wrong. It was still cute and wonderful and made my heart happy. It wasn't angsty and it did deal with family issues and other high school social issues and I was glad that it followed the normal "nerds" of high school and their feelings of being outcasts. It has LGBTQ+ themes and from what I could tell the main character is POC (cover doesn't whitewash either YAY!). I also like that this brings attention to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, even if I felt it didn't quite do it right, especially to possibly high school audiences - it wasn't something I knew about at that age, but wish I had (again, I was THAT girl).

I did enjoy this and I would recommend this to anyone looking for a cute, quick, read.
Profile Image for Cesar.
354 reviews235 followers
March 19, 2022
2 stars

Before I get into my review for I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl, I want to start off by saying why I dislike the manic pixie dream girl but not in the way you think.

The term manic pixie dream girl was coined by film critic Nathan Rabin who came up with the term after watching Elizabethtown. To quote Rabin, he says that the manic pixie dream girl,"exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures."

This trope describes female characters who are one-dimensional, don't have much going on for them in terms of their goals, wants, dreams, and give new meaning to the male lead's life. Beyond that, they have personality quirks that make them stand out to the point where they fall into the "I'm not like other girls" trope which a lot of people dislike. They're usually whimsical, quirky, and eccentric. They sound more like a fantasy than a real woman. There is a lot to criticize about this trope, how they treat female characters, and the way directors write said female characters, and to an extent, I agree with those criticisms.

However, there are two main reasons why I dislike the MPDG label.

1) It's been overused and misused.
2) It's inherently sexist and ableist.

The MPDG trope has become so overused that it's lost its original meaning. Let me make this clear: A female character who is quirky or has dyed hair is not an MPDG. That's something I've been seeing in critics and even reviewers here on GoodReads. Personality quirks does not inherently mean that a character falls under that trope. More often than not, they are fleshed-out characters with their own goals that have a purpose for being in the story. But people misuse the term and just slap it on any female character who is even remotely different than most of the characters.

For the sexist and ableist part, the term MPDG has been overused to the point where people have called some actresses MPDGs. To quote Zoe Kazan, "I think that to lump together all individual, original quirky women under that rubric is to erase all difference." As for the ableist part, a lot of these female characters have displayed behaviors that are common in neurodivergent people.

Here's a quote from I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Drem Girl describing the MPDG: “Unique fashion sense, unorthodox approach to social boundaries, absence of a filtering mechanism between the brain and the mouth, lack of self-awareness, and a rejection of class structure.” Most, if not all of these sound like behavior from someone who is neurodivergent. While I don't think Rabin was being inherently ableist when he came up with the term, it has its undertones of being ableist.

Here are three videos that are perfect examples of the MPDG trope:
The Death Of the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl Trope
Scott Pilgrim vs The World - Why the Hate & Why it's Great
How the 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' Romanticizes Mental Illness | Video Essay
The Misuse of the Term - Manic Pixie Dream Girl

Thankfully the term has died and directors are becoming more aware of their writing (sometimes but not all the time). Even the man who coined the MPDG term apologized and said we should retire the term.

Now onto What I thought of I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl. The story follows Bea, a high school senior who is punctual about her life. She's a math nerd, is on track to getting a scholarship at one of the top universities in the US. And she has a boyfriend. All seems perfect until at the start of her senior year, a new girl arrives and she is the textbook definition of the MPDG. Bea's boyfriend dumps her for the girl and Bea takes it upon herself to know more about the MPDG by becoming one.

It's a story that criticizes the MPDG term while also giving Bea the opportunity to know more about herself, those around her, and learn that actions do have consequences, for better or for worse. While that sounds good on paper, the actual execution of it was just bad. What we got was a self-centered protagonist who for the most part doesn't sound like a real person, a cast of one-dimensional characters (except for Gabe, he's the best), and a story that sounds like a bad Disney Channel movie which would be an insult to Disney Channel movies because most of them are great and iconic.

Bea is very unlikeable because of how she treats her friends, family, and to complete strangers at her school. She falls under the Not-Like-Other-Girls trope and with how she treats those close to her and to other people, she's very condescending and thinks she's above all others.

“Those girls had the attention spans of Tasmanian fruit flies, who are born, breed, and die all in one twenty-four-hour cycle, and where the time allotted to individual thoughts is less than a nanosecond. Okay, not that Tasmanian fruit flies have cognitive reasoning skills, and even by insectoid standards, they’re low on the IQ scale. Then again, so were Dakota and Noel.”

“Cassilyn may have been pretty and popular, and rich, but that was all she had going for her, whereas I was looking forward to a glorious college career on the East Coast, full of honors and accolades and people who really understood me. Cassilyn would graduate, perhaps even to some token college classes, and then fade into my memories, just like all the kids who were living their best years right now.”

She's just the worst. She's not the only one though. The love interest, Spencer, is just a douchebag who honestly sounds like the broody male lead of a movie with an MPDG. Beyond them, everyone is just boring. It's funny actually because Gretchen McNeil wrote about a character trope that is unbelievable, she wrote an entirely unbelievable cast of characters. I may as well call them all manic pixie dream people because they're shallow and unimaginative.

Despite my qualms, there are few, and I mean very few, things that almost made the story and characters believable. Bea, as judgemental as she is, does have some qualities that, in her situation, makes sense. How she acts is questionable but the moments where she's a flawed character who doesn't know what she wants to do, how to convey her emotions, and allowing herself to be vulnerable makes her sound believable, even relatable. And the story does have a nice message about being there to help people without having to sacrifice your wants and goals.

But at the end of the day, I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl fails on not only having good characters and a plotline, but it doesn't really do anything about the MPDG trope. There could've been more nuance to the overall theme but what we got was a shallow, cheesy story.
Profile Image for Romana.
Author 66 books33 followers
October 31, 2016
Neměla bych sice kopat do knížky, kterou jsem přeložila, ale tady mi to nedá. Tohle je fakt děs, a nejen proto, že je to plný matematiky (kterou fakt nemusím, ani když se podá vtipně). Už dlouho jsem neměla tu čest s tak sobeckou, sebestřednou, zabedněnou a veskrze nesympatickou hrdinkou. Motivace postav stojí na tak vratkých nohách, že pokud se nad nimi jen trošilinku zamyslíte, totálně se sesypou, a deus ex machina zasahuje ve zcela nelogickém ději tak často, že by se to klidně mohlo jmenovat "Convenience". Nic v příběhu nedává smysl, rozuzlení i konec jsou naprosto předvídatelné a asi od půlky se kniha motá v kruzích a jen opakuje už vyřčené. Tohle je asi moc i na mě. Ale přečtěte si to, třeba mi tenhle názor vyvrátíte...
Profile Image for Josiah (bookishfanboy).
66 reviews29 followers
February 18, 2017
Actual rating: 3.7 stars

It's started so slow, and I'm not really interested on what was happening at first. I'm glad that it got better and I got hooked after 100 pages. I thought that this book was funny and so pleased that it involves awareness especially in bullying. Full review to come!!

*Special thanks to Harper Collins International for sending me a review copy of this book*
Profile Image for Dahlia.
Author 19 books2,393 followers
March 22, 2017
This was fun! It's obviously very conscious trope subversion, and with a fun cast of characters, eminently readable writing style, and OH MY GOD JUST HAVE The Conversation and KISS ALREADY ship <3
Profile Image for Liralen.
2,752 reviews161 followers
November 9, 2018
Cute but requires a fair amount of suspension of disbelief. I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl asks you to believe, among other things: that the 'popular' kids are all dumb as a single box of bricks (seriously, they don't even get their own boxes); that you can reinvent yourself more or less overnight and nobody will so much as blink (they might not even notice); that personae such as Effeminate Gay Stereotype and (of course) Manic Pixie Dream Girl are instant wins with the popular crowd.

Which...okay. Sure. I'll suspend some (if not all) disbelief, but I wish this had been rather more...subversive? It's nice that Beatrice figures out that she doesn't have to act like someone else for boys to be interested in her, but I'd rather that the one hadn't been so wound up in the other: I wanted Beatrice to figure out that she didn't have to change herself for a boy...without the immediate leap to another boy. It's not unusual for YA, of course, but disappointing nonetheless.
Profile Image for Rachel (borntoberustic).
119 reviews27 followers
February 14, 2017
I absolutely loved this book! Finished it in just a couple sittings and enjoyed every moment of it. :) Beatrice is geeky, relatable, and a fantastic female protagonist! This might be one of my all time favorite contemporaries. For me, it ranks up wth books like "To All the Boys I've Loved Before" and "Don't Call Me Ishmael." Definitely a fun read! If you enjoy reading about some good high school drama, this is the book for you. :)
Profile Image for Mireille Duval.
1,310 reviews80 followers
May 18, 2017
I really enjoyed this! It was very typical contemporary YA, with the trying on new personalities to see if they'd fit, and finding out what it means to be yourself, and what all those FEELINGS mean, and which way do they really point to?! I thought it was well-balanced between school, parents, friends,
lovers, enemies, something that novels don't always manage. And I liked all the math stuff :)
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