Book: manicpixiedreamgirl by Tom Leveen, Random House Books for Young Readers, On Sale Now
Book Info: YA Contemporary, Review copy provided by the publisher, Available in HC 256 pages
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
Tom Leveen has a unique voice and writes interesting male characters, so I was intrigued to check out his latest book manicpixiedreamgirl. Leveen’s characters are usually creative types and not the typical leading men you see in YA. And since I’ve seen lot of movies featuring manic pixie dream girls, I was curious to see the bookish incarnation of that quirky unattainable girl.
I always think of Zooey Deschanel in 500 days of Summer (or any of her projects really) when I think of MPDG‘s. These types of characters are like the muse to tortured artist type guys. After seeing MPDG’s in several films, it seems like they are there on to inspire the male lead & help them take the next step to reach their goals. So, based on my movie viewing experience, I had an image in my mind of the typical MPDG- pictured below with the smitten male leads:
In manicpixiedreamgirl, Tyler is in a relationship with Sidney Barrett, but secretly worships Becky Webb. Becky is a talented actress in school productions, and a loner type who reads Stephen King, just like him. Tyler joins the tech crew in drama class just so he can be near her. Everyone but Becky knows about Tyler’s obsession – even his girlfriend Sid knows. Tyler’s a writer and Becky’s his muse, but he has her on too high a pedestal to make a move. One of his stories about Becky gets published though, getting his feelings out in the open ready or not.
The book has an interesting structure and is set on one pivotal night in seventeen-year-old Tyler’s life, with frequent flashbacks to fill in the important details in the story. The story takes place over two years from when he first sets eyes on Becky. We follow Tyler as he stalks Becky around school and asks his friends for info on her. Sidney falls for Tyler in the meantime, and he strings her along while pining for Becky. It’s tortured and messy like real life, and none of the characters behave how you want them to, but I still had to keep reading to see how it would turn out.
I thought the male voice in manicpixiedreamgirl was very strong and unique. Tyler’s smart and likes being around the drama kids and writing. It’s nice to see the guy’s POV when he falls for the unattainable sort of girl, and all the missteps along the way. Leveen’s writing is sharp and engaging, and he juggles the flashbacks with ease. Becky is in many ways similar to MPDG’s in film, but she keeps you guessing all the same.
I think this book will appeal to guys as well as girls, especially readers who enjoy John Green and David Levithan, and Leveen’s own Zero. manicpixiedreamgirl is in stores this week, and his next novel Sick is due out in the fall.