Girl meets boy. Girl likes boy. Girl gets friend to help win boy. Friend ends up with crush on boy...
Skylar's got ambitious #goals. And if she wants them to come true, she has to get to work now. (At least she thinks so...) Step one in her epic plan is showing everyone that her latest app is brilliant. To do that, she's going to use it win State at the Scholastic Exposition, the nerdiest academic competition around.
First, she'll need a team, and Skylar's not always so good with people. But she'll do whatever it takes to put one together ... even if it means playing Cupid for her teammates Joey and Zane, at Joey's request. When things get off to an awkward start for them, Skylar finds herself stepping in to help Joey. Anything to keep her on the team. Only, Skylar seems to be making everything more complicated. Especially when she realizes she might be falling for Zane, which was not a #goal. Can Skylar figure out her feelings, prove her app's potential to the world, and win State without losing her friends--or is her path to greatness over before it begins?
Of the 100+ books on my "read" shelf, this is the second one with a 1 star rating, and that must say something, right?
Even the books I consider my least favorite have an element or two that I liked enough to give them a generous 2. I'm trying really hard to figure out what I missed here, because all the glowing reviews here say everything opposite to what I felt while reading. I didn't find it hilarious. It wasn't cute.
In fact, this was the blandest book I've ever read.
Skylar, the MC, is the actual worst. She's extremely selfish, stubborn, and unnecessarily rude to people who clearly want the best for her. I am all about unlikable MCs when that's what they are supposed to be. UNLIKABLE. Not when you are supposed to sympathize and root for them!
There was zero character development on Skylar's part. She remained on her bad behavior throughout the book, cried once when she realized people were done with her (LIES!!!), and voila! everyone came rushing back to her like they hadn't just stated that they deserved better five seconds ago.🙄
The side characters were too many, with too little personalities. We were either seeing them from Sky's perspective (which was like not seeing them at all), or in those chat bits...(which I only liked because they made the book a bit quicker to get through). Seriously, half the time I couldn't even tell them apart. They could all have been one single person, and I wouldn't have noticed.
I am usually able to put up with infuriating MCs, if the plot is engaging enough.
Here, it wasn't.
I am already done with the book, but still so terribly confused. This entire reading experience was just me skimming through the book speedily and trying to figure out what the f*ck is going on. It was all so painfully BORING.
What even was the conflict here?? What were we trying to do? Why was I reading this??
It felt like this book was written specifically for people who are into coding or app-making stuff. That was all it talked about. It would have been fine to read about a field I'm not at all familiar with, but there was barely any context! Nothing to get me interested in it in the first place.
Same goes for the quiz aspect. I had a bunch of random info thrown at me every now and then without any real explanations...Like, WHY SHOULD I CARE?? And it's not just me. Why were the characters supposed to care either? What were their motivations? Why was it so important to ALL of them?
Guess we'll never know...along with a bunch of other unresolved, "just-there" plot points.
There was just a pinch of friendship drama sprinkled here and there, but that too, was completely pointless and wouldn't have existed if only Skylar had been a bit considerate.
Where are the amazing friendship dynamics and slow-burn romance I was promised??
Speaking of romance...
Girl meets boy. Girl likes boy. Girl gets friend to help win boy. Friend ends up with crush on boy...
👆This is why I had picked this book up. But did we get the chaotic and cheesy romance situation this implies?
What we do get instead is a frustrating MC, obnoxiously denying to see what was glaringly obvious for 300 pages, and adding to the drama that shouldn't have been there in the first place. And where was the chemistry?? When did they even fall in love??
TWO PEOPLE KISSING AT THE END DOES NOT MEAN THE RELATIONSHIP IS RESOLVED AND THE BOOK CAN BE CALLED A ROMANCE.
And then what?
What about after the kiss? The book wouldn't end just because two characters got together, right?
What happened to the whole Nate sub-plot?
Or the quiz and app MAIN plot?...the one we were building up for the entire book?
If you’ve read Technically You Started It, you know Lana is uniquely able to convey personalities and stories through mixed media. Speak for Yourself takes this to the next level and combines the story with the media elements. The media aspect is a driver within the story and enhances the reader experience. I appreciate the modern elements and that Lana includes them in an authentic way.
Skylar is the perfect storm – ambitious (overly), caring (to her own detriment), and smart as can be. Of course, I loved and identified with her. Skylar is one of a large cast of characters – Lana does an amazing job of building out her support system of friends, parents, and other adults. Unlike many YA stories, Lana provides a refreshing take on Skylar’s parents and sibling, who are integral to the story. We get to know her friends/teammates through not only their shared competitions, but through a series of app messages.
If you were an honor’s kid or a debate kid or in any kind of knowledge-based competition, this book’s setting will appeal to you. The story and setting are intertwined, with the setting becoming a character in its own right. It’s the way we get to know the characters and the world they live in. For unfamiliar readers, Lana paints both the self-imposed pressure and the pressure of the future with just the right amount of urgency.
To say I loved this book is an understatement. I loved the relationships – romantic, friendship, and familial. I enjoyed the mixed-media format. I appreciated the flawed perfectionist that Skylar is, and the people she surrounds herself with. I look forward to Lana writing relatable characters and settings for the long haul!
4.5 Stars. This story was so cute! It brought me back to my nerdy high school Academic Decathlon days - the Scholastic Expositon competition is not quite the same, but close enough. The migraine content and unrequited crush content is also really relatable. What I actually loved most were the loving sister-brother and BFF relationships. Sometimes I imagine a book playing out in my head as a movie while I’m reading, and this was one of them.
Thank you to the author, Lana Wood Johnson, for the free arc. I’ll be booktalking this one to put Girls Who Code club, and passing it on to my library to use as a summer reading prize book. I ate all the candy and I’m keeping the sticker.
I read this book in two days because the characters are what makes the story and the romance is a slow burn. I love the friend group and almost every one of the characters is queer apart from the main character and the love interest. It’s very much rivals to lovers but it’s mostly one sided it’s funny because most of the characters know that it’s one sided except for the main character which leads to great moments. I also really liked the idea that Skylar is a coder and not only that but she also gets migraines and I’ve never read a book where a character suffers from migraines that wasn’t an adult. To see a teenager dealing with it and being medicated for it was really important to show because it shows that anyone can get it. Another thing that I really liked was that there is was no bad blood between Skylar and Joey when there could have easily been considering Joey wanted Skylar’s help with Zane. Both girls understood where each other was coming from and stayed friends.
sincerely, I was a tiny bit annoyed at this book but there were a lot of good elements that let that annoyance fly away quickly.
I don't really like getting into detailed spoilers when reviewing books but there are a few major points of the story that aren't considered spoilers that I will discuss here.
It's very noticeable that our main character is really passionate and talented at coding, the only issue is you get the feeling that she isn't too happy doing it?
I didn't mind the fact that she ended up with feelings for Zane just because she just simply hadn't known him so well to like him before, but I did mind the addition of Joey's character, I found her just boring, and her whole existence is to push the plot of how amazing the app Skylar coded and crush on the guy Skylar ends up having feelings for to.
Overall, I enjoyed the read, lighthearted and fun, but I don't think it was THAT awesome.
This was just an absolute delight. You know when you finish a book and you're just so happy and can't stop smiling? That's me right now. I loved Skylar and Zane and Logan and Dom and Mads and Kaden and Joey.
It hurts me to say this but I am underwhelmed. I was looking forward to this super cool fat aspec main character who gets migraines dealing with all their shit and having a little high school adventure. But what we really get is a fat character with migraines who is very consumed with her future to the point where she is oblivious to things around her.
We get an insufferable oblivious secondary character with huge "pick me" energy. For real if that's what crushes are like I am not missing out. That stuff was so annoying and every time her character had any sort of dialogue I wanted to scream. It was so irritating.
We have a seemingly perfect guy who is portrayed as her enemy but we never really know what he did wrong and he doesn't actually do anything wrong on page.
We have an ideal brother sister relationship where they are loving and supportive to each other with almost no bickering, arguing, or teasing. The extent of their teasing is that he calls her nerdling. That's it. Otherwise they get along flawlessly and I just, maybe it's the trauma, but it didn't seem super realistic for a sibling relationship 😂.
We have a lot of coding and app development speak alongside a lot of quiz game/decathlon vibe energy.
We get a lot of secondary characters and almost no resolution for any of their relationships or the plot points that are brought up throughout the book.
No I feel like I'm not doing a very good job selling this and I don't know that I'm trying to to be honest. I don't think that I disliked it as much as it sounds like I did but I wasn't in love with it either. I honestly was a little bit let down with the lack of on page ace representation when that was something that the author mentioned would be there. Maybe I missed it and I would love it if someone would point it out to me because I did listen to the audiobook and could have easily skipped it, but I also think that in a group that had other obviously queer people It would have been so easy to throw in a line about the MC being ace.
I mean she legitimately makes a dating app meant for teenagers so that This girl will join her quiz team if she can figure out that this guy likes her. She convinces all of her friends to use it and expects no drama whatsoever. That had big ace energy and I was laughing quite a bit at just how oblivious she was because from the outside looking in I can see all the dynamics, but if I was in her shoes I would too be very confused about why everyone was making all these stupid comments. Like she's just focused on her app y'all, not at all at the guy who's so clearly in love with her and the fact that all of her friends know it. It would have been a perfect moment for her pansexual friend to jump in with a " only you would have the asexual audacity to make a dating app and expect nothing to go wrong" It would have been funny and totally appropriate but it's not in there (unless I missed it).
Anyway I feel like this book ended very abruptly and we didn't get any of the payout for dealing with all the obnoxious obliviousness throughout the whole book. Give me a chapter or two where they're cute and happy okay, make it worth it. I also feel like there was not enough resolution regarding both of her apps and also the Nate subplot. I was just a little disappointed.
I am begging audiobook creators to find another way to communicate digital communication via audio because there is nothing more annoying than listening to an audiobook where 1/3 of it consists of either texting or discord or whatever. It hurts the brain a little bit.
On the bright side the migraine rep is fantastic. And the fat rep was alright (if glossed over a bit).
Skylar, our main character, is a coding genius and she is determined that this year her school will win an important competition. The whole quiz thing was very much in the background, but it gave us the opportunity to see Skylar’s need to control everything around her. Of course, this causes issues. To cut to the chase, they don’t have enough members of their team so another girl is drafted in. Skylar learns that Joey, their new member, likes Zane but is shy about asking him on a date. Unlike most teens, Sklyar devises an app that will give Joey the confidence to work out if Zane likes her before she makes a fool of herself. Unlike many, this app proves popular and soon causes a few issues for the group. A huge part of the novel is Skylar’s focus and dedication to coding. It was evidently a passion of hers, but it didn’t seem to bring her much joy. She is awkward in social occasions...and her lack of awareness at what was blindingly obvious to pretty much everyone did become frustrating. While the friendship group dynamic did prove entertaining on occasion, it was hard not to feel irritated at times by the whole scenario. They are flawed and make some mistakes, but it was good to see them able to resolve their issues (or at least some of them).
After reading Technically, You Started It, I was ready to read anything that this author wrote. So, a book about an app making teen, a fat teen who has migraines, sounded amazing. Plus, she tries to matchmake two people, and ends up falling for one of them. One who she thought she didn't like. This book sounded like would be completely awesome all around, and I was really eager to read it.
It is official. I will read anything that Lana Wood Johnson writes.
Technically, You Started It, read fast because it was told completely through text messages. In this book, it is mostly told like a normal book. I really loved getting to know Johnson's writing style, because it was just as amazing as it was in the text. It was light, fluffy, and completely sweet. I felt like I could fly through this book because the writing completely sucked me through the story.
This book is also told in part through text messages, emails, and other memo type things. Through this, a little piece of Sky's coding is scene. I thought it was awesome, because it felt like a little piece of the character's brain, seeing them text instead of just seeing them through their actions. I dunno, I really enjoy reading texts between characters! And other flyers and emails just add some more depth to the overall story.
I really, really loved Sky. She has ambitious in droves. She knows what she wants, and dang, she is going to do everything in her power to get there. She feels like people can't handle her, because she's too much, too overbearing. She has to grapple with this, plus the fact that she believes everything has to go according to her plan. Just, she was such a fantastic, brilliant character. I also really, really loved that she was fat and that just was. It's a part of the story because that's just how Sky is.
All of the side characters were absolutely brilliant too. There is a non-binary character who just is as well! They just are! Really, Sky has a group of complete dorks for friends, and I adore them all. Mads and Zane and Dom and Logan and Joey and Kaden, all of them were brilliant. They're all geeks and it's wonderful.
Oh, the romantic relationship was top notch. There is so much mutual pining and both parties being ridiculous about it. Just, so much yes to it.
The familial and friend relationships in this book were also something I really loved. They're complicated, but love is at the heart of them. These characters truly care about each other and it was just so awesome to see.
The one thing that I didn't completely fall in love with was the ending. I felt like it was a bit rushed. I think I would have liked an epilogue to completely wrap things up or for there to be a few more chapters of resolution or to drag out the last emotional plot point. Though, I did read an ARC, so perhaps and epilogue will be in the final copy!
Overall, I really, really did love this book. It's completely nerdy, geeky, sweet and amazing. I loved Sky and I loved her friends and her apps. It is a very, very good book.
I was provided an ARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Skylar is driven. Very driven. She knows what she wants and how she wants it and it needs to happen the way she imagined it will. She needs to win State at the Scholastic Exposition, and for that, her team will use the study app she has created. But before that, she needs a full team, she needs Joey and Joey will only join the team if Skylar tells her how Zane feels about her. And instead of asking Zane, Skylar creates an app for that too, a sort of dating app for teens. Everyone tells her that it's going to be big but Skylar doesn't want to hear anything about it, she only wants to talk about the study app. Why you ask? Well, she doesn't really know herself...
I really really liked this. The MC was everything, in the best flawed way possible. I just loved her from beginning to end. The entire book made me feel everything and it was amazing. I cried some, laughed a lot, raged some and so much more. I simply had a great time. The MC's depiction of migraines was very on point and I was right there with her the entire time. The plot took me where I didn't expected and I'll probably be reading this again. And again. I truly can't wait for more from Lana Wood Johnson.
Speak For Yourself is such a relatable, heart-felt look at friendship and how we don’t need to do everything alone. This book is the perfect blend of nerdy fun and a look into the importance of friendship. I absolutely LOVED the friend group in this, and I especially loved how flawed it was while still working so well. - Skylar was also very relatable because, although I personally do not code, I also sometimes(most of the time) feel the need to control every aspect of a project. I loved her growth throughout the book, and it was just amazing. - The romance was very cute, and I absolutely adored the multi-media style with the text chats that were included. It really added to the book! - Speak For Yourself is also very inclusive, which was excellent. This is a must have for school libraries because it allows many different people to see themselves in it. I just loved this book so much. - Speak For Yourself is available on June 1, 2021. Thank you to Scholastic for providing an arc of this book in exchange for my honest opinion
Skylar had her path to success fully planned. First she had to propel her Study Buddy app to fame by winning the Scholastic Exposition, but her team was still in need of an additional member. Joey would be willing to fill that spot IF Skylar could find out if Zane was interested in her. Not wanting to just come out an ask him, Skylar designed an app, Requited, to help match Zane to Joey. Not only does the app derail her plans, but things get more complicated when she finds herself falling for Zane.
I had a lot of fun reading this book with its mix of romance, family, and friendship. Here were some of the highlights for me.
• Format – Johnson incorporated text messages, chat transcripts, and emails in the story. As a fan of mixed formats, I enjoyed the inclusion of all those bits and thought they belonged in a story driven by a technologically savvy person.
• STEM Girls – This is a call out I love making, because it’s great seeing young women winning in those STEM fields. Skylar was often hailed as a “genius”, and what’s better than being admired for your brains and skills? Skylar found her love of developing applications young and continuously worked to hone her craft. I admired her drive, ambition, and dedication.
• Migraines – There are a LOT of people who suffer from migraines, and I appreciated Johnson shining a light on this health issue.
• Friendship and Family – Yes, this book had a sweet romance, but I adored the other relationships explored just as much. Friendship was at the core of the story, and my heart pitter-pattered seeing that bond between Skylar and her brother grow.
• Nerdy Goodness – When I read books like this, I regret the choices I made in high school. If I could go back, I would join the academic teams and really be among my people. Loved every moment of the competition and all the nods to debate as well.
• Great Messages – One of my takeaways was about learning to give up a bit of control and accepting help. Another was how not to be so focused on one plan that you miss opportunities or possibilities that are right in front of you, and taking stock of the important things in your life.
Overall: I loved rooting for Skylar and her friends and had a ton of fun along the way.
I was so excited to have gotten the chance to read this! The premise sounded like it would be a fun ride with lots of cool buzz...
In the end, I got stuck with a main character with the most obnoxious case of the one-track-mind disease; no character development to speak of (there was the attempt to make the reader believe there was, but I wasn't buying it, it didn't feel natural at all); a nonexistent romance subplot that never really took off (again, another element that felt super inorganic). To top it all off, we have five? I think it was five, I actually forgot- let's go with five. We have five other characters surrounding the MC, but it's more like a five-headed monster because they were super bland and uninteresting... And the voices sounded all the same, they were basically indistinguishable.
At least I'm not going to complain about how I never gave two flying fucks about the whole plot revolving around all that tech talk because I knew the story would be about tech elements so that one's on me. But again, I just couldn't connect in the least.
I'm sad, kiddos. This was a definite fail (both from my part- because of my last argument- and in general; read everything else lmao)
I debated whether to rate it with two or one star but I'm so bummed at the moment that I'm not holding back so one it is. May or may not change it to two once I ride out this funk.
I don't know, Lana just has a way of hitting me in my feels.
Here's what you can expect in this book: - Nerd Friend Group representation in a high school setting - feelings of being left behind because friends are dating or don't seem to need you anymore - being completely oblivious about someone crushing on you - a non-binary best friend who likes to rail against capitalism; a goth girl bff who is a visual artist; a loving older brother who protagonist is irritated and supported by. Friend group shenanigans. - acknowledgement that GPA != how smart or talented you are
The protagonist has severe migraines which come up a few times in the book but are not the plot of the novel. The protagonist is also fat and I think Ace(?) But these are also not the focus of the novel (although the protagonist does design an app to help people figure out if their crushes are required and then is very confused by how popular it gets.)
Nerdy Teen Rom-Com + Comedy of Manners + Girl Coder = Great Read
I love this book. I am completely biased. It is a pure delight to read.
Skylar is a girl coder with an amazing brother and a complicated life. She also has a plan - and of course, things go sideways. Her crew of friends are amazing. This book has some absolute zingers in it and the payoff is just great. I also love all the little techie bits in it - there's a messaging app, a QR code, etc. It all helps immerse the reader in the whole experience. There is so much to love in this book - many teens will be able to see themselves in some of the characters. Skylar is fat and has migraines but none of that defines her - her will does. She is an amazing character and I love her and Mads, and Logan, and all the rest of the cast.
This book had a lot of positives going for it, but somehow just didn’t really work overall. I’m having a hard time figuring out why, but here are my general pros and cons:
Pros: -The main character is plus-sized and there is zero storyline about her weight or being self conscious about it 👏👏👏👏 I honestly would not even remember she is plus-sized without the cover design and I think that’s a positive thing. I feel like any book that takes on a bigger main character pulls in angst about their weight at least in some form and it’s so annoying 🙄 -The main character is a female coder. I feel like even I (an adult) was interested in learning how to code by the end of the book, so I’m excited what this can do to inspire teens that read it. -I’m always down for a supportive, nerdy group of friends. I enjoyed their playful group chats.
Cons: -The MC is like completely oblivious to everything going on around her that it doesn’t seem realistic. Of course this guy likes you! Literally every 10 pages is someone else hinting that (or directly telling her), and Sky is like “lalala I don’t know what you are talking about…”😑😑😑😑 I get being a little oblivious, but this felt so forced it took me out of the story. -Joey needs to grow a spine. She is a smart, capable girl but then turns around and asks for help talking with a guy like a 5th grader 🙄🙄🙄 -Zane and Sky have good chemistry but we get basically nothing between them the whole book. I think the author could have pushed this farther to show more about Sky grappling with her feelings vs. her life plan. There are some small moments between them, but they don’t really go anywhere. -For a 341 page book, I feel like A LOT was crammed into the last 20 pages. I hate long, drawn out middles with little payoff. -The life lesson didn’t really resonate at the end for me. I feel like the MC completely abandoned things she really cared about just to please others, but again, this might have just been due to such a rushed finale.
TL;DR- This book had a lot of things going for it to be great and unique compared to other YA novels, but the overall execution and pacing wasn’t very good.
DNF at page 73/341. Bland, lame characters with a boring plot--if you can call it a plot. Based on the other reviews, nothing interesting happens, which is sometimes okay as long as the characters are great, but these characters are pathetic weirdos.
The author's debut book, Technically, You Started It, was a decent and quick read. I really think the author should probably stick with books in text format because she's not great at writing clear, engaging narrative prose. I suppose the fact that the blurb/summary for this book was a confusing mess should've been a red flag for me.
The author said on Twitter that she was really proud of this book. White authors are always proud of mediocrity. Why? Because the main character is fat and experiences migraines? Neither of those two things make a personality or can replace actual character development.
I picked up Speak for Yourself because I absolutely loved Lana Wood Johnson’s book, Technically You Started It. And let me tell you, this book did not disappoint!
The MC, Sky, is fiercely goal oriented. She’s an app developer, which is awesome to see that representation in YA fiction! She also suffers from severe migraines (I can absolutely relate!).
Sky’s 5-year plan includes her education app taking off and making her famous. But when a “throw away” app she’s created catches fire, she has to figure out this whole new world.
I could not read this book fast enough, but also didn’t want to leaves this wonderful group of friends. Johnson has created realistic situations and characters that are easy to fall in love with while weaving in LGBTQIA+ representation, women in STEM, and invisible diseases.
A plus-size main character hell yeah!!, (but except the cover, I didn't see anything about being fat at all) I was so excited to read this book but I was really disappointed and kind of irritated. The whole book showed how Sklar is passionate about her apps but, aren't coders supposed to be intelligent how can Skylar be that dense. I didn't like skylar as her need to be controlling and in charge all the time was a bit annoying. Logan and Zane on the other hands are hilarious and adorable. There was more passion between Sklar and the app than Sklar and Zane. I really couldn't see the chemistry on sklar's until the last few chapters. The ending had a few aww moments. but overall this could've been an amazing book because the plot was really nice.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Uhhh, it was fine? Love the cover and the whole concept of girls in coding and whatnot... But honestly. If you ask me tomorrow what all I remember about this book here is what I'll tell you:
1. Skylar was super annoying at times. She took her friends for granted and tried to blame everything on everyone else. (because how could anything possibly be her fault? *cue eye roll*) 2. There wasn't all that much romance in it at all. So the little blurb is deceiving (at least in my opinion) 3. There were a LOT of characters and subplots happening here, and I was having a hard time keeping track of the people, and virtually none of the subplots were given any other attention. 4. That's it. That's literally all I would be able to tell you about it.
I 'read' this as an audiobook and I think it would be a much better experience to read this one as a physical book or at least an e-book as there are a lot of different texts included like emails, texts, group chats, app chats etc that come across very disjointed on audio. It reminded me of the reading experience of the Illuminae series by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman; made up of lots of different text forms instead of general text/writing.
Although the book is a contemporary, I needed more world building (and some more background info for some of the characters) for components to make sense. I liked it overall, but there were times where I really didn’t understand what was going on.
I like a lot of Skylar's growth here and love many, many of the characters. But I think there were pieces of plot (and backstory?) that I needed more of for things to feel like they really fit together for me. Much love for the pieces of speech & debate and academic competition in here, though.