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Be More Chill by Ned Vizzini
Reviewed by Steve Hansen

Squip is the hook; the dynamo that powers Be More Chill. It's what separates Ned Vizzini's tale of dork-cum-cool guy from your other, similar, young adult fare.

Jeremy Heere compounds his dorkdom by documenting each slight onto forms he's coined 'Humiliation Sheets,' ticking off every snicker, snotty comment and a number of other embarrassments he suffers daily at the hands of his peers. No explanation is given for the purpose of these sheets other than to serve as some kind of proof of their originator's dillweed-ness. They seem to be an adolescent substitute, of sorts, for self-flagellation. Heere is a loser, indeed.

Enter the aforementioned 'squip' (a nanocomputer perched in the brain of anyone who takes the 'magic' pill), and Jeremy goes from social pariah to student body messiah. He ascends the social strata all the way to the pinnacle of cool, thanks to his execution of the instructions given him by the voice inside his head. His squip directs him to drop his dearest, best friend Michael for political expediency's sake (how can he remain friends with somebody now below his modicum of cool?), and advises Jeremy to hook up with the popular chicks in order to send Christine, the girl he really likes, into a jealous tizzy. Is this computer thing Machiavellian or what? The question is can Jeremy live with himself now that he's gone from likable geek to scheming ass?

This novel will appeal most to those still in high school or a few years removed, thus its 'Young Adult' designation. Not to say Vizzini's writing doesn't have some universal appeal, it's just that high school 'problems' are so petty, insubstantial and contrived to anybody who's had to survive for a sustained amount of time in the real world. The tragedies of acne or someone's refusal to return a greeting in the hall seems pretty small when weighed against a home foreclosure are the scourge of a bad credit rating.

That said the squip gimmick has landed Vizzini's book a movie deal. And as you read Be More Chill, you may find yourself wondering if this wasn't the author's (perhaps unconscious) intention all along. What Hollywood executive could turn down American Pie with a Keanu Reeve's voiceover? Whether on the page or the silver screen, Be More Chill will entertain high school kids nationwide, and, no doubt, a few of their parents.

Visit Ned Vizzini's website

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