Mark's Reviews > Be More Chill

Be More Chill by Ned Vizzini
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's review
Nov 16, 2011

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Ned Vizzini’s novel Be More Chill is an easy read and would be great to teach to a class of high school students if only there weren’t so many obscenities. The book starts innocently enough with a student who’s a bit of an outcast—Jeremy Heere. He’s just an average teen looking to make more friends and date the girl he’s crushing on. Everything changes one day when he’s told of the new nanotechnology of the “Squip”. The Squip is a small computer that can give commands and assist a student in becoming popular. Not surprisingly, it has the voice of Keeanu Reeves, a paragon of cool.

As the book wears on, the reader, and Jeremy, soon discover the Squip doesn’t always order for the kindest things to be done, as it’s not programmed in human emotion—- just the binary of cool. After some time, Jeremy comes to realize that some things are worth doing to be cool and others are just downright dangerous (such as doing drugs and driving drunk). He does, however, gain a better self-confidence and the ability to talk to girls he’d never have spoken to prior to taking the Squip.

Vizzini’s writing style is relatable enough for the young adult audience, though this book is better left under “referral only” status as some of it contains drug references and vulgar language. It could be properly used in a lesson, if only for certain portions (such as when he gains the confidence to speak to Christine at the mall after buying his new, “chill” shirt). Some parts of the novel prove somewhat humorous, though other bits can be very tense and unexpectedly serious towards the end. One thing is certain, though: Vizzini has written a true-to-life story of what being “chill” means—- and how finding middle ground between cool and un-cool is healthier than either extreme.
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Natalie Chambers I thought the obscenities would be a bit much to teach in a classroom as well. and while the overall message of the book is a good one, there are still situations that sat uneasy with me to teach. Such as when he does drugs (and the cool thing to do), I feel it could send the wrong message to students that "all the cool kids are doing drugs".

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