Series: App #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 30th, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Get the app. Get the guy.
Computer-whiz Audrey McCarthy feels most at home in a tech lab, surrounded by her fellow geeks. Once popular and fearless, she hasn't been the same since her dad died. And her ex-best friend, gorgeous queen bee Blake Dawkins, has turned into her worst nightmare. Audrey is counting the minutes until high school is over and she can get the hell out of Dodge and go to college-that is, if she can find a scholarship.
So when Public Corporation, a giant tech company, announces a contest for the best app developed by a high schooler-with $200,000 in prize money-Audrey is spurred to action. She comes up with an idea so simple, yet so brilliant, she can't believe it hasn't been done: the Boyfriend App. With a simple touch of the screen, romance blooms among the unlikeliest couples in high school, and people start to take notice. But it's not quite enough.
To beat out the competition, Audrey will have to dig deeper. And she does-right into a scandal that would rock Public to its core. Suddenly the Boyfriend App lands Audrey where she never expected to be: in the middle of the limelight, passionately kissed by the hottest guys in school, causing complete and utter mayhem. But can it bring her true love?
The Boyfriend App came to me highly recommended by Christina, and judging by how often we agree on contemporary romances, it did not take much for me to bite and put this on my TBR list. Then Gaby graciously gave me her extra copy, because she is the bestest, and I couldn’t resist sneaking it into my TBR pile soon after. This book was entertaining FOR SURE, but also just a bit… odd.
What makes The Boyfriend App so hard to place is that it’s clearly a story in two parts. The first part shows Audrey’s first efforts to create an app for the Public Corporation competition: a dating app that would essentially pair up users in close proximity according to their compatibility. I really appreciated having such a computer whiz main character, because that was new and fun. Though Audrey gets bullied and lives as an outsider, she’s not really ashamed of who she is – and she has a great group of friends supporting her, particularly Aidan. Aidannnnn man. I shipped it from page 1. It’s a kind of friends-to-lovers transition, but it’s so slow and absolutely beautiful. Particularly in the first part, the two are just absolutely adorable because they’re both shy geeks and don’t want to risk the friendship. But Aidan does watch out for Audrey and it’s just so freaking cute.
What also made this part so much fun is that it’s extremely relevant to today. I mean, we have dating apps out there exactly like the one that Audrey was creating. And her personal struggles with the pure and simple fact that she’s been single and alone for so long also struck a chord with me. It’s fodder for hopeless romantics, but it also spread a positive message about online dating. I’ve been extremely skeptical about it in the past, but Audrey kind of changed my mind about it. Love, today, is just not “traditional” anymore – and we need to get over that. With the right app and some level of caution, I might even try it out sometime.
Part two of the book is where things get strange. Instead of an adorable, cute contemporary fully grounded in our society, Audrey starts finding out some mysterious things about Public Corporation and their technology. They might not be operating completely ethically, let’s just put it that way. I didn’t expect there to be this kind of mysterious element, but I did really appreciate it – it definitely kept me on my toes. The science behind the technology I could also kind of see as being realistic, so my intellectual side was also pretty pleased. But more than anything, part 2 cranked up the level of RIDICULOUSNESS. While there is this mystery kind of going on, the tone of the book shifts more to utter hilarity. I mean, the plot was kind of plausible, and an obvious warning about companies like Apple gaining too much power (which I can appreciate as a proud Apple hater), but there’s these scenes that just… I don’t even know how to describe it. I was laughing out loud. It felt like some Community-style antics, paired with a little bit of Mean Girls (as in the jungle animal behavior). Laughing till there were almost tears. What was I even reading???
The disparity between the two halves makes the book really hard to evaluate as a whole, however. I mean, I was definitely entertained the WHOLE way through – and the romance between Audrey and Aidan was too cute for words (even if the end was cliché – whatevs, it was the perfect cliché). There’s also great diversity all around with plenty of casual gay and lesbian characters/actions that just made me very happy. There’s also great messages about friendship – from Audrey’s quirky group of awesome nerds to her lovable cousin and confidant Lindsay to her struggles with mean girl Blake. But it’s still hard to reconcile the two parts of the story and to decide whether this is realistic fiction or if it’s just ridiculousness. The vibes are so different that I can easily see it making a lot of readers confused and/or angry. I mean, I enjoyed it, because I like my fluffy sillies and I was in the right kind of mood for it – but it likely won’t work that way for all readers.