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Review: This is My Brain on Boys by Sarah Strohmeyer

Monday, May 30, 2016


This is My Brain on Boys
Sarah Strohmeyer

Genre: YA Contemporary, Humor
Hardback: 350 Pages
Publication: May 10, 2016
by Balzer + Bray



Addie Emerson doesn’t believe in love. Not for herself, anyway. With one year left of high school, she’s more interested in snagging a full scholarship to Harvard than a full-time boyfriend.

That doesn’t mean she’s oblivious to the ways of the heart. Or, rather, the head. Because after months of research, Addie has discovered how to make anyone fall in love. All you need is the secret formula.

But will her discovery be enough to win the coveted Athenian Award and all its perks? (See above, full scholarship to Harvard.) Or will she be undone by Dexter, her backstabbing lab partner, who is determined to deep-six her experiments at their exclusive private school?

Those are the least of her problems now that she’s survived a death-defying flight with a mysterious, dark-haired boy, who has delicious chocolate-brown eyes and a few secrets of his own.

With an experiment to mastermind, an infatuated exchange student on her hands, and at least one great white shark (more on that later), can Addie’s prefrontal cortex outwit her heart? Or will she have to give in to her amygdala and find out, once and for all, if this thing called love is more than just her brain on drugs?


Review

This is My Brain on Boys took me back to Smart Girls Get What They Want, a 2012 release by Sarah Strohmeyer. Both novels are about smart girls who express interest in something other than studying. Whereas the romance took a secondary place in Smart Girls, however, it was very much at the forefront of My Brain on Boys.

While I don't have any problems with a romance novel here and there, it can be too easy for the pursuit of romance to overshadow other character developments. I never really felt like I got to know Addie and her friends or get invested in their story. It didn't help that the novel tried to juggle Addie's experiment, her growing interest in Kris, the conflict with her lab partner, and her role as assistant PC. These were all opportunities to get to know Addie on another level, but it was all done on a superficial level and didn't make use of the events to further develop her character. I do like the attempt to show how Addie's brain works differently from other people (e.g. her not understanding idioms like people "falling off the face of the Earth"), but it didn't feel natural.

My Brain on Boys alternates POV between Addie and Kris. Personally, I'm not fond of multiple POVs because it limits the amount of time we can spend getting to know any one character, but when done well, it can really further the plot. (For a fantastic example, check out: The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman.) I like the alternating POV in this novel because it lets us get to know Kris and the reasons for his almost-expulsion before he becomes fully accepted by Addie, but I don't like it because, again, the character development was superficial. I'm still not even fully sure how the romance bloomed. The two of them never really talk or get to know each other; it was all just teenage hormones (that, and of course Kris turns out to be a perfectly nice guy). Then again, love being hormones is what Addie was trying to prove . . . .

Though Addie claims to have no interest in boys, she's working on a project that's designed to imitate conditions under which people may fall in love. While it's an interesting social experiment, it's much too difficult to control all the variables or replicate the experiment. I wouldn't have thought that would be the project she used to increase her chances of getting into Harvard—or that she would throw in that plot twist at the end. It was also disappointing that her lab partner turned out to be such an untrustworthy and overall uncool guy.

Overall, the characters were flat and not well developed, and the story tried to juggle too many storylines for my liking. I would recommend this as light reading for someone interested in a book with humor, smart girls, and love experiments.

A copy was provided by Harper Collins for review

Rating: 3 stars


4 comments on "Review: This is My Brain on Boys by Sarah Strohmeyer"
  1. I love Sarah's books, but I can see how one might not enjoy them. I like the humor she uses and these are definitely easy beach reads. Great review!

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    Replies
    1. I've enjoyed past books that I've read by Sarah Strohmeyer. I agree she has a great sense of humor :)
      This one just wasn't for me. Thanks for commenting, Anna!

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  2. It's a shame the characters fell flat. The concept was an interesting one.

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