The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project
The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project
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Annotation: Riley, a Manic Pixie Dream Boy, lives in Trope Town, where he makes a living appearing as a side character in novels--until he and his fellow manic pixies must ban together to save themselves from retirement.
Catalog Number: #176384
Format: Library Binding
No other formats available
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 264 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-541-51259-6
ISBN 13: 978-1-541-51259-7
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018010972
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Fictional 17-year-old Riley is a trope, a Manic Pixie Dream Boy to be precise, and the only one in Tropetown, since his best friend Finn disappeared. Riley's job is to appear as a character in various authors' books, though now he's telling readers his own story as he dreams of going off script to have adventures he creates himself, ideally shared with a beautiful Manic Pixie Dream Girl named Zelda. But there's a fly in the ointment: he's forbidden to date her because the two teens have been remanded to group therapy. Things get complicated when Riley is summoned to appear in a new novel-in-progress and meets Ava, the "Central Developed" character. Fascination follows, but what about Zelda? And what's this? The town council has announced it is considering retiring the entire Manic Pixie Dream trope. Is it termination time? Appelhans' novel is a genial read, though its characters are mostly one dimensional, and its pace is slow. It is, however, redeemed by the cleverness of a premise that would make Pirandello proud.
Kirkus Reviews
A Manic Pixie Dream Boy learns he's more than just a label.Riley is TropeTown's second-ever Manic Pixie Dream Boy—a subset of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. After twice deviating from his script on a job, the Council assigns Riley to mandatory group therapy with a motley crew of Manic Pixie Dream Girls. There, he falls for Zelda, of the Geek Chic subtype, and finds an unanticipated group of friends. However, something's not quite right in TropeTown, and Riley has to decide if he is willing to risk termination to learn the truth about TropeTown and protect the Manic Pixies. Underdeveloped worldbuilding and a general lack of subtlety leaves elements of characterization and plot unsatisfying. There is plenty of discussion about the concept of Manic Pixies, but any attempted critique is undermined by the continued centering of Riley, a male character who finds himself through the help of secondary women characters. Barely-veiled digs at John Green's many Manic Pixies abound; a painfully self-conscious discussion arises between white characters exploring the similarities and differences between Manic Pixies and racist tropes like the Magical Negro as well as the benefits and detriments of tropes as representation. A few of the women characters have been in same-sex relationships, and characters default to white.Ultimately, just as frustrating, underdeveloped, and problematic as the trope this novel tries to interrogate. (Speculative fiction/satire. 13-17)
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ALA Booklist (1/1/19)
Kirkus Reviews
Reading Level: 6.0
Interest Level: 9-12
Lexile: 810L

Riley lives in TropeTown, where everyone plays stock roles in novels. Riley, a Manic Pixie Dream Boy, is sent to group therapy after going off-script. Riley knows that breaking the rules again could get him terminated, yet he feels there must be more to life than recycling the same clichés for readers' entertainment. Then he meets Zelda, a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (Geek Chic subtype), and falls head over heels in love. Zelda's in therapy too, along with several other Manic Pixies. But TropeTown has a dark secret, and if Riley and his fellow Manic Pixies don't get to the bottom of it, they may all be terminated.

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