Cover Image: The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project

The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project

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Member Reviews

The title of this book was so promising, but I think after reading this I'm firmly not a fan of meta-fiction. I think the book was cute though, and I love the idea of pushing past stereotypes and rewriting labels.
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3.5 stars — I had a hard time getting sucked into this story, because I didn’t understand its purpose, or what it was trying to achieve, and so I held myself back from connecting with it.  I’m kind of impatient like that.  I think I was confused if this was going to be a romance, because it was very odd in the romance department and was kind of failing.  I think if I’d known beforehand that it wasn’t a romance, but rather just had romance elements, I would have had an easier time.  The story really is about the journey of Riley as he discovers himself and his world and what he wants for his life…just in a super strange world.

It was definitely very cleverly written.  I appreciated all the little nods here and there to different tropes, how tropes can be misused, what they bring to a story, all sorts of different views.  I loved the overall message of depth and uniqueness and how we’re all trying to figure out who we want to be, but especially teenagers.  Like I said, it was very smart about a lot of things — using the tropes, but also stepping outside of those boundaries at times.

Riley was pretty easy to like, even if I didn’t always quite understand who he was or his motivations…I guess he didn’t either.  Truthfully, I’m not all that familiar with this level of trope, and what exactly a Manic Pixie Dream Girl/Boy is.  I figured it out through context, but it made me sit back and think about what characters *I* know from books I’ve read that would fit that description…and I’m still not sure.

Like I said, the romance left me feeling kind of cold, because I didn’t understand what drew him to Zelda or Ava.  I believed in his crush, but I kept expecting development that didn’t happen.  I was frustrated with Zelda’s mixed messages too.  So I highly recommend going into this story knowing that it’s not a romance, and I think you’ll be much happier.

Another thing I think made this a more…confusing read is how it jumped all over the place, especially near the beginning.  I was having a hard time getting a grasp on certain things, and then it felt like the story would go off on tangents…so, for me, it was hard to determine the theme.

In the end I definitely enjoyed myself, and I actually really LOVED where the story ended up and the messages it had for the reader.  I’m a huge proponent of depth, uniqueness and diversity, so it wasn’t hard for me to fall in love with those messages.  Before the ending, I might have rated this a 3 (or at least rounded down to a 3), but it really leveled up the story for me.  It’s always nice when a book ends on a high!
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I was given a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I loved the idea of the story and the cover of the book was definitely what drew me in. 

From the beginning of the book I had a love/hate relationship with it. The writing style both drew me in and pushed me away. It was funny and well written, but the way the author ended up doing the meta style was not my favorite.  Riley was also love/hate for me.  On the one hand I loved that the way that he was like every MPDB in YA but at the same time I found him to be boring. Like most MPD characters quirkiness does not make a personality. Because of this I never cared about Riley enough to care about what was happening to him.  I wanted him to be more than just a trope because I thought that was the point of the book, but he never grew that way.  So while I see what Appelhans was trying to do, I don't think she quite made it there.  This book was a great idea but it never lived up to it's potential. 

As far as the story goes I really enjoyed the first half. I liked seeing Riley go to therapy with other MPD characters and seeing how he developed friendships and fall in love with Zelda.  But for me the plot fell apart once they started trying to work against one of their antagonists, Nebraska. The way they wanted to go about getting back at her  and also make sure they didn't get terminated made no sense. It was all too nice and cutesy. 

I have to admit that I didn't read all of this book. Around 75% I started skimming and I pretty much gave up around 80% through. There just wasn't enough to keep me going. In the end I gave the book 3 stars.
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This one just didn’t work for me! I am sure many people will love it but for me it was slow and not what I was in the mood for!
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A cute, easy read for girls of age 11-15 or so.  I enjoyed it, although the characters were a bit predictable.
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4.5/5. I received an eARC from Carolrhoda Lab via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I'm a huge fan of meta fiction, and this book was such a joy to read. My full review can be read at the link below.
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Unfortunately The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project didn't work for me and I ended up deciding not to finish it. What portion of it I did read felt very cringey. I understand that the point of the story is pointing out all the tropes and such, but I just couldn't get into it.
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This was so quirky, I can say that it was indeed trying too hard. 

The cringe was real but I conquered it! 

I do see the entire point was pointing out tropes and subverting them. The style just didn't work for me.
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Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book and thank you to the publisher as well.  The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project by Lenore Appelhans. This book was a slow read for me. It was cute and fun but not really my type of book. I am glad I had the opportunity to read it. I will not give any spoilers.
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I enjoyed this book, it was a fresh take on a literary trope. I recommend this for anyone who's wanting a light read.
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For a book filled with so many cliched characters (who live in Trope Town, no less) this was a charming and original piece.  Appelhans deconstructs the many familiar character types of YA novels and romantic comedies. In this world, each of these tropes live in order to be summoned by an author to fulfill a role in a project that needs an easily identified character type in contrast to Developed characters.  Even as Riley, a Manic Pixie Dream type with the subclass of being male turns into his own "developed' character, the case is made for the value of these types of shorthand characters, and in fact the Manic Pixie Dream type that has so often filled pages and screens.  While the fashion for these types of characters may have shifted somewhat, it is still clear what purpose these characters (and the many other tropes encountered) are supposed to serve.  Riley encounters several of his fellow female Pixies at therapy for not following the rules and author requests (despite the irony of being a type who flaunts conventions) and faces an existential threat to his and his trope's existence as styles and gender awareness changes. 
This book flows well and is an entertaining but thought provoking read.  Occasionally the balance of critique and narrative gets a little off, but overall I would recommend this one for the way it plays with expectations, even while fulfilling them.
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Woof. I had very medium expectations for this one, primarily because no one read it and I wasn’t sure what it would actually be like to read. I’ll admit that the first 25-50% of the book was pretty enjoyable. The world-building was fascinating because this is a VERY meta book about tropes. Riley is a manic pixie dream BOY whose job is going in and out of various books, fulfilling his role until the book is over. He lives in TropeTown, where alllll of the tropey people live and fulfill their bookish destiny as well. For a book blogger and avid reader, this was such a cool idea. I’m obviously familiar with all the tropes and their structure.

Unfortunately that setup and the general idea of the book are the only things that worked for me. I’m still somewhat unclear about how the whole thing actually worked, but it’s not overly important. My issue was with the characters. From the synopsis, I thought the MPDB was trying to break out of his mold and develop his own personality. Therefore, I kind of expected him to have a different personality? He really was just a cutout of that trope. Same with all of the other characters, who were ALL MPDGs too. I don’t know, there was just nothing compelling about everyone. The second half of the story was weird too.

One quick note is that I think there are at least two instances where the author mayyyyybe directly pokes fun at John Green books? There’s a manic pixie dream girl named Nebraska (potentially a dig at Looking for Alaska, the title character being Alaska) as well as Riley’s first role being the “first manic pixie dream boy” in the cancer-related book (which could be about The Fault in Our Stars). I thought it was kind of funny.

I’m glad this was a short book and really quick to read. It’s one of those books where the concept was pretty awesome but the execution wasn’t great. Without connecting at all to the characters or seeing them beyond their trope at ALL, there was no way for me to care about this one.
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I received this as an arc from netgalley for an honest review. I thought this would be an improvement of the first few books in this series by this author but I felt as though this was my least favorite of them all. I ended up giving it a 2/5 stars and I just didn't care for the characters or the story line.
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I really wanted to like this book. I thought it would be campy, cute, and fun. It was campy, but I just couldn’t get into it. I felt like it dragged to long. I would have liked to see the love triangle be more central - I felt like it was muted. I honestly couldn’t get into this book and couldn’t wait for it to end. 

Further review to come on, amazon, and
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Title:  The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project
Author:  Lenore Appelhans
Genre:  YA, fantasy
Rating:  4 out of 5

Riley is a Manic Pixie Dream Boy—the trope’s token boy—in trouble for speaking out in his last novel role. He’s sentenced to do therapy in TropeTown with other Manic Pixies who have behaved outside of their roles. Riley isn’t sure therapy is going to help him, until he meets Zelda, another Manic Pixie, and decides maybe it won’t be so bad.

But the Manic Pixies have been causing trouble, and now they might be terminated. All the Manic Pixies will have to work together to save their trope from destruction, and Riley will have to choose between a secure future, and the chance to seize his greatest dreams.

I saw a comment that Riley might be a character from The Fault in Our Stars—although that’s never stated, obviously—but I’ve never read that, so I can’t comment on any similarities (I’m sure it’s a wonderful book, but I don’t read anything I know ahead of time will make me cry). This novel is ironic and lighthearted. It’s an easy read, and there are a few moments of surprising depth—like the lesson about other, now-retired tropes being terminated because of their racist characteristics—but at heart, it’s just a fun read.

Lenore Appelhans’s new book is The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project.

(Galley courtesy of Lerner Publishing Group via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
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I confess that what attracted me to this book was this cute cover, but after reading the whole story and realizing the extraordinary way the author used to encourage children to create wings and open up new possibilities, i was more than happy to let me read til the very end. It was innovative.
Even though I did not like love triangles, in that case I even understood the writer's motivation and the attitudes of the three characters.
A light, inspiring, and simple story to get us to meditate on what to do to eliminate negative elements from our lives and to fight for our desires and dreams.
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Where do I even begin with this book? I know it's early in the year, but this has to be one of my favourites that I've read this year. It has a good message, it's completely unique, I loved the characters, and I just felt so good reading it that I spread it out as long as I could, which is something that I don't often do. 

Tropetown is a town where fictional cliché and stereotypical characters live when they're not working in the stories, different from where the main characters live, and a lot different than where the readers live. Following the last remaining Manic Pixie Dream Boy in town, Riley, it shows his life in first person as he goes through the hardest part of this short life so far, first beginning group therapy and then facing retirement because of what he is. I was immediately interested in his character, not because of his stereotype fully, but because he's such a thoughtful person, and he really tries hard to carve out his own life, to be different and to make himself happy. And I think that's something that I really needed to learn from someone else. Riley is that someone else. 

After accidentally bumping into a girl named Zelda, another Manic Pixie but a Dream Girl, he knows she's someone he wants in his life. Though she does send mixed signals, she's most of what he thinks aout, and even more once he realizes that they're in the same Manic Pixie Group Therapy. The characters in the therapy group really grow together, and I loved (almost) every one. 

I think that this book is really about finding yourself within your stereotype, not being ashamed of it, but making it your own completely. I loved how good this book made me feel, even at the low points, because even though the world and the characters were fictional, they were really relatable and easy to love. The way they acted and the people they were seems like something to strive for, and I would love to take bits of their personality and add it into my own. My favourite character, of course, is Riley for all of those reasons. 

Overall, I know I loved this book because of how long I stretched out reading it for. Even though I have so many books that I need to read, I made this last all weekend, and I wish there was more I could know about it. It's something I just need for my bookshelf, and I know it's something that I would read again. No matter what kind of books you read, I think that you should check this one out. 

Thanks for reading!
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This book had a really interesting concept, and it was great to read a piece of meta-fiction since it's not something that I ever pick up. I liked some of the directions this went in and the discussions on when using a trope is okay and when using a trope is problematic or lazy writing.
One of my major problems with this book is that I couldn't necessarily understand the world that was being built. I understand, for the most part, trope town and its sectors on the wrong and right sides of the tracks and even the legacy village. What I don't understand/didn't like is that "reader world," which is supposedly our world, didn't really read like it was our world. There was this fantastical element to it where tropes could possibly join the world and characters could visit their author and authors could launch formal complaints to the council about tropes. I get that this could all just be done, like, satirically? But it just felt like it didn't quite feel like our reality when Riley talked about "reader world."
The tropes were fun to meet and discuss, and I think the focus on the manic pixie dream girl/boy was great, but I didn't really find myself connecting all that much with the characters. I think that's the point at the beginning because we are supposed to see these tropes and over-the-top personas instead of complex, fully developed characters, but I didn't really feel that growth, especially with Zelda. 
Overall, this book was okay, but I think it read a little younger and felt confused about whether it wanted to be YA or middle grade. I think this would be a fun book for a middle school/early high school book club or book box to have a discussion on tropes.

lgbtq rep: multiple wlw side characters with f/f relationships
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This novel was insanely adorable.

A work of contemporary meta-fiction with a splash of romantic comedy, The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project (MPDBIP), follows the story of Riley and the consequences he faces for going off script during a writing session with an author. However, during his government mandated therapy sessions he finds himself falling for one of the girls in his group, which is against the rules in TropeTown. As he grapples with his developing feelings for the new girl, Riley finds out a secret within TropeTown that will cause him to take a journey in discovering who he truly is instead of who everyone claims him to be.

Throughout my time reading this book, I envisioned MPDBIP to be super cartoon like–almost like the children’s show, Lazy Town, everything is golden and happy and sunshine in every corner you look. You have talking animals and a plethora of different tropes that live in this one town, where their sole purpose is to aid authors in their writing. However, TropeTown comes with a lot of different rules (like a shit ton) and a lot of those rules are stipulations of what you can/cannot do and who you can and cannot be depending on the Trope you are.

I wasn’t expecting this story to be so deep and thought-provoking as I found it to be as the cast figures out who they are personally instead of who the world tells them they are. Appelhans gives her readers a chance to see how not everyone is what we think they are or should be, and that beyond the lens of labels they are indeed people with full exotic and complex lives–just like we are.

With an ingenious writing style, Appelhans served up witty banter and epic pop culture references (I see you John Green shade) throughout the novel that pulls us into the story even further–keeping us entertained and smiling the entire ride through. The novel is fast paced but you never feel like it’s going too fast that you get sucked out or confused about what is happening within the plot.

Funny, deep, and snarky, The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project is a fast paced story about finding who you are when the world wants nothing more than to label you and keep you in a box. If you are a sucker (like me) for meta-fiction, or even a cute romantic comedy, then I highly recommend this gem!
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4.5 stars.

I knew from the title and cover that this would be one of The Best or else one of The Worst books I read this year, and I am so excited to announce that it turned out to be the former!This is so delightfully meta and so delightfully cute, self-aware and playful and ironic and whimsical. It has funny scenes, and cute scenes, and heartbreaking scenes, and some ... colorful references to pop culture. (Though I will say that I think the John Green shade goes a little far at times; I had a little snicker at some of the punchlines, but I do actually like a lot of his books — not to mention his other work as a YouTuber and general public figure.) As a writer myself, I felt so called out by certain lines and scenes, but in a way that made me feel like I was in on the joke: #soaccurateithurts.

One of this book's greatest strengths is that there's something new around every corner, whether it's a bit of worldbuilding, a "different" Trope, an unexpected insight on emotional health and/or identity, or a development in one of several simultaneous storylines. It's an adventure in the truest sense of the word: there's travel between different parts of TropeTown (oh, and a fun map of Riley's world!), as well as moments of self-doubt and self-discovery, but there are (slightly) calmer moments where we get to just hang out with the characters in group therapy, getting to know them and vicariously enjoying all the different kinds of pie provided.Riley and the other Manic Pixie Tropes really exemplify "show, don't tell" — beyond their character sheets (which we get to peek at!) and flashier quirks, they each have so much personality and so much heart. (Or, well, varying amounts of heart. You'll see.)

This book definitely isn't for everyone, as the Goodreads average rating and some early reviews demonstrate. But if you like your romcoms with snark, a vivacious (and sometimes petty) friend group, and some crises of existentialism, I really think you'll like this one.
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