Book review by Genel Gronkowski
Only five months after Young Adult author Ned Vizzini’s tragic death, his first novel, Be More Chill, turned ten. Though best known for It’s Kind of a Funny Story, a best-selling YA novel loosely based on Vizzini’s own experience in a psychiatric hospital, Be More Chill is an underappreciated parody of modern high school life.
The story unfolds through the narration of Jeremy Heere, an average drama geek existing on the lowest rung of the high school totem pole, as he seeks out a pill-sized supercomputer called a “squip” to win over his crush, a fellow drama club member named Christine. The squip implants itself into Jeremy’s brain and coaches him through his transformation into the coolest guy in school. Unfortunately, unintended consequences arise when using a supercomputer to hook up with girls, and Jeremy needs to decide what he is really willing to give up to get what he wants.
Be More Chill sounds like it would be the kind of story that focuses on the dangers of pride over personal respect, but Vizzini adds an amusing twist to a familiar storyline. The novel pokes fun at a genre that seems to base its understanding of high school entirely on ‘80s movies by giving us unrealistic high school parties, characters that speak excessively in slang, and moral compasses dictated entirely by hormones. Student and adult readers alike will be left wishing they had their own squips to coach them through life’s inevitable awkward moments.
A fast and funny read, Ned Vizzini’s Be More Chill can be found in the Young Adult section of your local library or bookstore.