The Boyfriend App is exactly as you might guess from the title and the cover: silly and fun- although it actually features some serious consideration of evil corporations that I wasn’t expecting.
The book is based around Audrey McCarthy, who unfortunately lost her father in freshman year of high school and since lost her confidence and social standing, instead using the hacking and programming skills he taught her with her new “trog” friends. When Public (so obviously Apple that you may as well substitute it in your head- they even have buyPhones!) announce a competition for budding programmers to build a new mobile app to win a college scholarship, Audrey knows it might be her only chance to pay for her dream college.
The concept is great- with thousands of students competing for two big scholarship money prizes, you’d have to come up with something good to be noticed at all. Thanks to this, and our acquaintance with some truly likeable characters, the first half (or Part 1.0) is addictive.
Aidan is the guy every slightly geeky girl wishes she knew in high school, and Xander’s the one who the entire school swooned over; despite their apparent differences, both are utterly charming to read about and together they are probably the book’s biggest success. The rest of Audrey’s group of friends are also a fun bunch, from near-mute Mindy to indignant Nigit and fashionista Lindsay, and the teachers follow suit (there should have been more Hot Gym Coach!) The only characters who let it down for me were Blake and co., who had their clever moments but could also be quite generic villains.
Audrey herself is refreshing in her honesty with the reader- although not with others- and is only annoying when she’s constantly making bad decisions or refusing to let people help her. It’s when we’re left alone with her slightly more in Part 2.0 that she gets frustrating, but it’s not her fault so much as the plot’s- it becomes very far-fetched in her sudden discovery of a big cover up, and I just couldn’t care for it as much as I did Part 1.0.
The Boyfriend App 1.0 is innovative and I totally get why it was popular- once you’ve been matched with someone within 100 yards, you can go and say hi right away and see what happens. Sure, there may have been a few break ups and mismatches but I personally think Audrey should have fiddled with the surveys and algorithims instead of making The Boyfriend App 2.0; it was crazy, manipulative and would have left her bust and friendless if her computer teacher hadn’t known the CEO of Public’s biggest rival. Even if it hadn’t been based around stolen software, I’m pretty sure Audrey should have been disqualified for her app being purely psychologically manipulative.
This book reminded me nostalgically of the sorts of books I read when I was around 16, and it’s almost like Meg Cabot for the digital generation (I was just slightly too old to grow up with all the technology that kids are now). For a young adult who wants some high school drama paired with some actual hard-hitting corporation lessons (as misjudged as this storyline can be), this is not a bad book to go for. It’s certainly an easy read for this heat, which was exactly what I needed!