Publisher's Weekly (June 2004)
By Paula Rohrlick
"Be More Chill: A Novel" [review]
Who wouldn't want an ingestible super-computer-in-a-pill designed to make the person who swallows it way cooler than he or she ever was? When shy, dorky Jeremy Heere learns of the device--known as a squip--he knows he must do whatever it takes (in his case, steal and sell a portion of his unpleasant aunt's Beanie Baby collection) to raise the $600 necessary to get one. Soon the squip is installed in his brain, dispensing such crucial nuggets as "You have to talk as per rap-slash-hip-hop, the dominant music of youth culture" and "Step one is that you stop pacing and get a new shirt, Jeremy." All this is in service of his ultimate goal: winning the affections of choosy and self-assured Christine. Vizzini (Teen Angst? Naaah...) gives a fresh twist to familiar messages about being loyal to one's friends and true to oneself, thanks to the over-the-top plot and tangy narrative. Readers grappling with their own social status will appreciate the fact that while the notion of coolness may be satirized here, it's certainly not demonized or dismissed. Although the squip's advice is not infallible, Jeremy's life really does improve once he polishes his social skills. Semi-cool, would-be cool and even cool readers are likely to be entertained by the wry, nearly anthropological observations of the high school caste system, from a 23-year-old author who, as a teenager, wrote for the New York Press and the New York Times Magazine. Ages 13-up. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.