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The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  233 ratings  ·  106 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
272 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Carolrhoda Lab
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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
Katie Hanna
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
this. this is good book.

The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project tells the story of the Tropes who inhabit the happy world of Trope Town, among them:

a) Manic Pixie Dream Girl Geek Chic,
b) MPDG Freaky Chic,
c) MPDG Wild Child,
d) MPDG Bubbly Badass,
e) Manic Pixie Dream Boy (rare!),
f) MPDG Beautiful Mess, and ...

... you get the picture by now, yes?

Fictional characters, and robotic, pre-programmed Tropes at that, these kids have never been afforded the complexity and dynamic growth of a
Samantha (WLABB)
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, fantasy, arcs
Readers are often lamenting about "the tropes", and one that often takes a beating is the manic pixie dream girl. This was a fun exploration of the MPDGs and their token boy, as they set out on their quest to save and redefine their trope.

• Pro: I had a lot of fun reading this book. It was odd and quirky, and I found myself laughing and nodding as I recognized so many of these characters and their traits from the books I have read.

• Pro: I've read several of these meta type books, and for me, t
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
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.
Lenore Kosinski
Dec 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley

I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

3.5 stars — I had a hard time getting sucked into this story, because I didn’t understand its purpose, or what it was trying to achieve, and so I held myself back from connecting with it. I’m kind of impatient like that. I think I was confused if this was going to be a romance, because it was very odd in the romance department and was kind of failing. I think if
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
Sheree | Keeping Up With The Penguins
My full review of The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project is up on Keeping Up With The Penguins.

The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project definitely goes out to all the word nerds and book geeks. The whole premise is a literary critique: Riley is a Manic Pixie Dream Boy, a sub-type of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. He lives in TropeTown where he hangs out with all the other trope characters until they’re summoned by an author for a role in a book.

I suppose it's technically a YA nove
Brittany Lamb
Dec 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
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
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
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Even though I started this in May and only finished it now, that doesn't mean that this is a bad book. Ramadan happened and I always take a book reading break during that time.

With that out of the way, I have mixed feelings towards The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project. On one hand, it's a whimsical meta filled book that is all about tropes, writing and what characters in these novels are really up to. It reminded me a bit of Stranger than Fiction, in how the Author interacts with his/he
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 only took me about
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
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Your pass unlocks any gate to which you have access," the guard explains. He's young and tough with a buzz cut and an angry pink scar across his neck. Excellent grammar though.

This was a delightfully clever and tongue-in-cheek backstage view into not only the Manic Pixie Dream Girl or Boy trope, but the YA novel itself-- from the character's point of view. Riley is a stock character who wants to be so much more than his trope allows. When his trope is threatened to be retired, he has to band to
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
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
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 deve
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-netgalley
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.
Erin (_everysecondbook)
Welcome to Tropetown, where your worst fears are realized and tropes are literally everwhere

2.5/5 stars

I was provided an early copy by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Here's the thing: this book was enjoyable and different but it just could've been taken so much further. And I do realize it is a huge tribute to the tropes and will play into them. I just thought it would be a bit more satirical than this.

I don't know, the characters all felt incredibly flat to me. Whic
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, print, ya
Everything old is new again. This was such an interesting perspective on tropes, and more importantly, it's a YA story I haven't read before. At times it read a little more like a thesis than a novel, but I thought the concept of Trope Town was well executed and definitely fresh for YA. I'm not sure it would be as amusing for someone who isn't familiar with John Green's work, since there were pretty heavy allusions to Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, but I will absolutely recommend ...more
4.5/5. I received an eARC from Carolrhoda Labs via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I'm a huge fan of meta fiction, and this book was such a joy to read. My full review can be read here: ...more
Samantha || Fictionally Sam
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc
4.5 Stars!
Buddy Read with Isabelle! ❤️
"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. Howeve
Isabelle | Nine Tale Vixen
Buddy read with Sam! ❤

I received a review copy from Netgalley. This does not affect my rating or opinions.

4.5 stars.

I knew from the title and cover that this would be one of The Best or else one of The Worst books I read this year, and I am so excited to announce that it turned out to be the former!

When have you ever heard of two Manic Pixies in love? I mean, wouldn't the universe explode from an overload of quirky cuteness?

This is so delightfully meta and so delightfully cute, self-aware an
I picked this book up thinking it would either be strikingly clever or enjoyably bad, and it definitely came more on the side of the latter. It's a decent enough premise in terms of fun subversions and meta humor, but it's nowhere near enough to sustain an entire plot, let alone one as wildly flimsy as this one. It would have been a decent to great short story, but as a full-length novel, even a short one, hard meh all around.

Let's start, as usual, with the things I liked: it's a clever enough p
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
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Full disclosure, the author, Lenore Appelhans, is one of my dearest friends. My opinion is still honest, because that's my brand, but FYI I do love her so fucking much. (Also, her husband—who she only got to spend just over 2 years with including the time they were dating and who she loved with her whole entire heart—passed away completely unexpectedly, and she could use support. Please consider preordering this book to help her out. Her life is very dark and grief-ridden now, and she could use ...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
Ryley (Ryley Reads)
I love a good trope-y book, and one that's a bit more meta and addresses those tropes always intrigues me. That was the main motivator for me reading this book and while I thought those elements were really fun, I'm not sure how much I really got out of this book.

Thanks so much to Thomas Allen and Sons Canada for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review, as always, all opinions are my own.

This book follows Riley (yes, it was weird reading about a character with my name, even typing th
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
Lauren R.
2.5 stars. This was better in theory than in execution for me. I think the concept was fascinating and very meta, which I liked, but I just didn’t really enjoy reading it? It’s such a hard book to review because it feels like it’s not even a book. The whole TropeTown world was really cool (despite not fully understanding how it all worked). I know that the MC was supposed to be a MPDB and whatnot but I still didn’t connect with him or anyone else. I got whiplash from all the weird decisions and ...more
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