Natalie Monroe's Reviews > I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl

I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil
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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.
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Reading Progress

April 6, 2015 – Shelved
April 6, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
May 19, 2016 – Shelved as: arc
June 26, 2016 – Started Reading
June 26, 2016 –
22.0% "This reminds me of Meg Cabot's How To Be Popular. \n \n "
June 29, 2016 – Shelved as: bubbling-under-5-stars
June 29, 2016 – Shelved as: get-a-life-pixie-girl
June 29, 2016 – Shelved as: girl-squad
June 29, 2016 – Shelved as: my-inner-feminist-cries-with-joy
June 29, 2016 – Shelved as: sugar-spice-n-everything-nice
June 29, 2016 – Shelved as: would-make-great-chick-flick
June 29, 2016 – Finished Reading
June 30, 2016 – Shelved as: cheesy-cheesy-cheesy
June 30, 2016 – Shelved as: stick-to-the-status-quo-everyone
December 23, 2016 – Shelved as: love-wins

Comments Showing 1-23 of 23 (23 new)

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message 1: by Ramona (new)

Ramona Did you like this Natalie and should I read it?


Natalie Monroe Sandstorm wrote: "Did you like this Natalie and should I read it?"

I haven't read it yet! I'll let you know.


♫✯Em loves Hollenstein✯♫❤the summertime and butterflies all belong to your creation❤ Agh, I agree- Paper Towns did not work. Here's hoping McNeil can do what John Green couldn't.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

I actually really liked Paper Towns, but I find this interesting. Will probably never read though, purely for the fact that contemporary isn't my thing. XD


Natalie Monroe @Emerson *toasts*

@Mikaela Mine either. I'm really glad the Contemporary wave is over. This blurb caught my interest though. XD


message 6: by Luke (new)

Luke Reynolds I wasn't planning on reading this at all, but reading your review makes me want to give it a second chance. I may be able to pick up an ARC of it from a local bookstore if I change my mind, so let's see what happens! Nice review, Natalie!


TheSirensLibrary You may have just convinced me to pick this up


message 8: by Francesca (new) - added it

Francesca I was umming and ahhing about whether or not to add this to my list. I hate the MPDG trope and love when it's dismantled in some way but I wasn't sure if this book would do it well. Your review has convinced me to add it! It looks good!

Also, I have a kind of love/hate relationship with New Girl because sometimes I find Jess irritating but I've always loved that Jess v Julia episode. I loved her speech! Although I loved Julia and I was kind of able to see both sides. Such a good episode!


Natalie Monroe @Luke & The Sirens Library It's amazing, guys. This is coming from a girl who isn't usually into fluffy contemporaries.

@Francesca It examines it in a really thoughtful way. It admits the trope isn't great obviously, but has admirable qualities.

I love the Jess/Julia episode because it's a middle finger to those who think New Girl is classic MPDG. New Girl is Jess's story, not Nick's, and they change each other for the better.


message 10: by Sαɾαԋ (new) - added it

Sαɾαԋ ♥† Is it Romance ?


Natalie Monroe ッ♫Sαяαh wrote: "Is it Romance ?"

There's some romance, but it's not the main focus of the plot. It's more coming-of-age.


message 12: by Amanda (new) - added it

Amanda Really love your review (New Girl gifs are always a win). Can't wait to read this one! But I just gotta say, it's manic pixie dream girl, not maniac. I hate to be "that" commentor but your review is otherwise flawless so I just had to point that out!


Natalie Monroe Amanda wrote: "Really love your review (New Girl gifs are always a win). Can't wait to read this one! But I just gotta say, it's manic pixie dream girl, not maniac. I hate to be "that" commentor but your review i..."

Thanks for the heads up!


message 14: by Immacolata (new) - added it

Immacolata "Readers disappointed by Paper Towns"?!
some one calling me?!
This is seriously going to be read!
Thanks for the review.


Natalie Monroe MelCast wrote: ""Readers disappointed by Paper Towns"?!
some one calling me?!
This is seriously going to be read!
Thanks for the review."


Hope you enjoy!


message 16: by Hilda (new) - added it

Hilda Loved this review! Now I want to read this book!


Natalie Monroe Hilda wrote: "Loved this review! Now I want to read this book!"

Do it! You won't be disappointed.


Rachel's Book Reviews This sounds so good! I'll have to pick it up soon. :D


Natalie Monroe Rachel's Book Reviews wrote: "This sounds so good! I'll have to pick it up soon. :D"

Yay!


message 20: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa John Green books are just a tad overrated but if I ever met him, I would be so happy. I hope he never reads this comment. Anyway, I'm so tired of the instalove to dream girl trope. There was a point when I stopped reading YA romance books because I couldn't find anything different. But then I discovered Anna and the French Kiss and Fangirl and even the "too innocent" to some To All the Boys I've Loved Before.


Natalie Monroe Vanessa wrote: "John Green books are just a tad overrated but if I ever met him, I would be so happy. I hope he never reads this comment. Anyway, I'm so tired of the instalove to dream girl trope. There was a poin..."

I LOVE Fangirl. It's like it was written specifically for us book geeks.


message 22: by Beth (new) - rated it 3 stars

Beth Love your Gifs... found myself picturing Jess while I was reading much of the novel.


Natalie Monroe Beth wrote: "Love your Gifs... found myself picturing Jess while I was reading much of the novel."

Jess is adorkable.


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