Tuesday, April 02, 2019

The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project - Lenore Applehans

In TropeTown, Riley is the only Manic Pixie Dream Boy and he's been sent to therapy for going off script. Riley wants to be in control of his own destiny rather than sticking to the same old roles. But rebellion could mean the end for Riley, literally. When the council threatens to retire the trope entirely, Riley and the Manic Pixie Dream Girls must prove their creativity and diversity make them relevant.

OK, let's back up a bit. When I read the description of The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project by Lenore Applehans, I thought, "Um, what?" But, I pre-ordered it because Lenore is one of us, a blogger friend from way back.  As it turns out, the world building is pretty straightforward and not difficult to follow at all. It is, as you may have surmised, a unique world peopled with various types of characters who enjoy a range of activities (including therapy, if necessary). At any time, a Manic Pixie can be called to work in an author's book. There, the Manic Pixie Dream Boy or Girl must play a role in which they will never be one of the primary characters. Being secondary is a drag and it's tempting to go off script. That's what the therapy is intended to stop. When not working in a book, the Manic Pixies and other characters have rich lives with hopes, dreams, love, and worries like anyone else, real or fictional.

I don't want to give away anything else because The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project is a very plotty book with lots of surprises and plenty of questions. What will happen when the council of TropeTown threatens to retire the Manic Pixie Dream trope? Will some of the Manic Pixies choose to plant themselves permanently into a single book and live that life forever? Or, will they band together and find a way to prove their relevance? What happens to tropes who board the train? Do they disappear from existence or do they go off-page forever and become part of what we know as the "real world", the world of readers?

Highly recommended - I was truly worried when I read the first chapter of The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project because I thought it was likely to become so clever it bent itself into pretzels of cute. But, it was clever without being either predictable or unbearable, although it's imperative to put up with the combination of giggles, quirkiness, and moments of thoughtfulness that go with the trope. Full of unexpected wisdom and so many surprises. I loved the experience, loved the denouement, and loved the strength and creativity the Manic Pixies showed when they were threatened. And, I think I can safely say there's no other book I've encountered that's quite like it.

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  1. I'm glad it worked it. I think I remember a Lenore.

    1. It turned out to be a really fun book. Lenore used to live in Germany, if that rings any bells. I think she mostly reviewed YA, but her blog's been pretty inactive except when she has a book out, in recent years. It's called Presenting Lenore.


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