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The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  48 ratings  ·  38 reviews
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 ...more
Expected publication: March 5th 2019 by Carolrhoda Lab
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3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  48 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Lenore Appelhans
Apr 20, 2018 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
This is a meta-fiction romantic comedy about redefining the labels we're given - on our own terms. It's about looking beyond the stereotype and getting to know the actual person. It's about writing and the writing process and the magic and the frustration and the courage to step up and be the main character in your own story. It's a satire of YA tropes with the utmost affection for the category. It's my favorite thing I've ever written, and I can't wait for you to read it.

Why, yes! I do have a b
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What can I say about this book? The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project is definitely different from anything I've ever read. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. I liked the story for its oddness and quirkiness. It's about Riley. He's a MPDB trope in Tropetown. He is going to group therapy because he went off script. While there, he meets a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Turns out, the Manic Pixie Dream tropes are going to be retired. So, off they go to save the day. The story is everythi ...more
Brittany Lamb
Note: Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a free, advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is a really cute book that I was ultra excited to read when NetGalley approved me. I think that as readers, we all love to joke around about tropes and the overuse of certain ones (especially the manic pixie dream girl trope), but I never imagined a book centered entirely around them.

This book is kind of like one long play on words. Does that make sense? It’s wr
Mary Thompson
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen
Lenore Appelhans has managed to create a book that both works on its own as a fun story about characters you care about and is also a clever sendup of YA tropes. This book will both entertain you and make you think. Just like Riley doesn’t have to helplessly accept his fate as a Manic Pixie Dream Boy, you don’t have to accept force-fed stereotypes. Get ready to change the way you think about every YA book you’ve ever read.
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received an e-ARC of The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! Any quotes used in this review are from the ARC copy & may not be in the final book.

Be still my pixie heart.

I’m gonna be real with ya. this book is so stinkin’ cute. By accident, I picked it up last night & didn’t move until the very last page. & it wasn’t even because I was at the edge of my seat, but just because it was so cute & very fast-paced. I believe it on
Pamela Stennett
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing

So, I have a confession.

When I was younger, I loved the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (or Boy when they were present) trope. I resonated with the spunky, energetic, quirkiness so much. I’ve always been a little bit MPDG, probably.

But as I got older, I started looking at the trope a little bit differently. While I was a free spirit and hyperactive, I still had my own goals and dreams. I won’t turn this into a dissertation on gender role expectations but needless t
Nov 27, 2018 rated it liked it
There was so much to love about this book, but there was also so much to critique. Overall, I enjoyed it, and it had some really great progressive moments despite having room to grow in other areas.

A brief summary: Riley is the only Manic Pixie Dream BOY in Trope Town, and he is in trouble. He's been a little too negative around his authors, so he is ordered to therapy where he can learn to behave like the proper supporting role that he is. Trouble arises, however, when he finds himself infatua
4.5/5. Review to come! I really loved this one. :)
Kristen Lippert-Martin
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It is my opinion that Lenore Appelhans is a bit of a genius. Please see THE MANIC PIXIE DREAM BOY IMPROVEMENT PROJECT as proof of that assertion.

If you're a regular reader of YA, you'll no doubt get a kick out of the whole concept of these oft-used characters and tropes, all living in Trope Town, doing the bidding of their authors whether they agree with their tired plot lines or not. After all, "The author is always right."

And you'll read along, smiling and nodding, like "Yep, I've seen *that
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is really hard to rate: there are some ways in which this VASTLY exceeded my expectations, but in other ways, I really wanted it to go further.
Brenna Clark
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Lerner Publishing Group for this ARC! I was instantly hooked by the name and the premise, and I am so excited to say that it did NOT let me down! We follow Riley, a lone Manic Pixie Dream Boy, as he navigates life in TropeTown. We are introduced to so many tropes and sub types and even a few Developeds (the main characters of your favorite novels) and even though some of these share characteristics, they are all their own standout beings. I loved the absolute w ...more
Dec 30, 2018 rated it liked it
I was given a digital ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book is not what I expected at all. It was unique and very meta to the point that I liked it but didn't love it. The concept was very fresh and made me want to keep reading. What stuck with me the most were the scenes where Riley was in a book within the book and talking about the Author writing his scene. I liked these scenes the most because I could easily relate. When I write, I imagine my characters and how I can
Becca Jacquin
Dec 26, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was way out of my comfort zone, but I couldn't get over the premise of getting to go behind the pages with characters.
I'm not overly familiar with meta-fiction and hope that it isn't the latest and greatest trend, because while this book was good it doesn't bear repeating.
There were hilarious parts, I mean group therapy straight out of Fight Club where you get to see some of the most common tropes thrown in a room together because they're misbehaving. Not to mention the cleverly named
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arcs

(2 stars)

(I received this book for free for an honest review off of Netgalley)

I'm a little stumped on writing this review, hence my lack of attempt at coming up with a more snappy title. This is a very tricky book to review, on account of it being extremely meta about... books. And itself. Is it satire the plot, world, and characters are lacking? Is it on a winking purpose that the romance and story arc is so predictable and simple? Is the writing style meant to lampshade the meta nature of
Laura Hill
Nov 25, 2018 rated it liked it
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Lerner Publishing Group through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The book will be published on March 5, 2019.

Writing: 3.5 Plot: 3.0 Characters: 3.5
Cute and whimsical, this early YA book explores the world of stereotypes using fictional characters who long to be more than their boilerplate dictates. Riley is a Manic Pixie Dream Boy who works hard and is true to type, but chafes a bit under perceived Author misman
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
I got an ARC of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

To start with the good, I love how meta this book was. In this book, the main characters are characters in stories, working with Authors. That made for a treasure trove of gems like this:

“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.”

As well as:

I swear I develop
Feb 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I remember studying meta fiction in university and adoring the concept - this book is definitely self-aware in the sense that it breaks the fourth wall several times. It is what it is: if you enjoy the manic pixie trope then you should enjoy this book.

Also, any writer will read this book and will cringe at the cliches and at the tropes because we’ve all put them in our own stories, but it’s done with such a tongue-in-cheek approach that it totally works. I adored seeing the authors manifest lit
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, arc
I had such a lot of fun reading this book, and I believe it has wide reader appeal. There are many winks and nods to fellow fiction writers, especially those of young adult literature, but Appelhans' wit will delight even the cleverest of teenage readers. I can think of many of my students who would love this book—from those who have tired of seeing the tropes of the genre and have moved on, to those who still relish an enjoyable YA love story.

And any reader who has ever felt like a character wa
Feb 03, 2019 rated it liked it
This is an extremely interesting premise and it is quite unlike anything I have ever read before. There was some great breaking of the fourth wall and the whole book comes off very meta which I really enjoyed. Our main character Riley is someone you start rooting for almost automatically because he has such a likable personality and I really enjoy his struggle with whether he is who he is because of programming or because that really is him. There is a great moment in the book where the characte ...more
Natasha Deen
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Funny, endearing, charming, subversive, and definitely meta, The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project is a fun read.

Premise: Riley, a MPDB, is sent to group therapy for not listening to his author (read: for going off the script of being an MPDB). While there, he meets Zelda and shenanigans ensue.

Riley is stereotypical enough to justify his trope, yet his self-awareness and internal dialogue, break him from the form. He’s delightful and worth cheering for, and I found myself flipping the pa
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Netgalley for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

This was a very novel novel. I got a lot of big The Good Place vibes from it, with all the meta and philosophical ideas floating around in it. There was a lot to enjoy!

I found the general world building very interesting. A lot needed explaining, so there was a lot of exposition. Because most of the main characters were actually created to be MPDG (and a boy!) they could be kind of irritating in their almost unconscious
Mikayla Tewksbury
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Thank you to NetGalley and Lerner Publishing Group for sending me an ARC of this book to review. All opinions are my own.

When I first read the description for this book, I immediately became interesting. A piece of YA metafiction that's a play on popular tropes in YA books? Yes please!

Unfortunately, I thought this book was just okay.

While the world was interesting and I enjoyed seeing how this story would play out, I found myself not super impressed with the world-building and characters in t
Nov 30, 2018 rated it liked it
This was REALLY cute (due to the premise surrounding Manic Pixie characters), but nothing blew me away. I enjoyed all of the characters and the tropes having group therapy reminded me of the scene in “Wreck it Ralph” where the villains get together for a support group, so that was fun.

I also enjoyed the discussion about certain tropes used in novels throughout history and why authors stopped using them. The only thing that I thought was odd was that a love triangle formed towards the end of the
Amanda Shepard (Between-the-Shelves)
Read this and other reviews at
Jan 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Copy provided by the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a book is a satire of YA Tropes told in meta form. It had such potential but there was just too much going on for me. It was confusing at times, and some of the jokes felt forced. I really appreciated what the author was trying to do with this book but I just didn't love it. It was pretty funny and quirky overall but I just felt it was confusing overall.
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic piece of metafiction that will be a perfect addition to any middle or high school English teacher's library. There is so much to discuss with kids about writing, writers, and the conventions of literature.
Emily Joan
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did! The premise and much of the content is fresh and delightful, but I found myself having to force myself to return to the book and keep reading. Maybe this is more about me than the book, because any reaction to a book is totally subjective.

However, I am still giving this book four stars because of the above, and also, the last portion of the book was really, really good.
Ana Moreno
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: dnf
So my teacher let me read his arc and i just couldn't keep reading it. It's just didn't grab my attention, i think the writing is good and the premise is really cool but i just couldn't get into it.
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
I have a lot of questions after finishing this. I’m just... it was sort of bland and things weren’t as fleshed out as I would have liked.

It was really just ok.
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