Be More Chill is a book by Ned Vizzini. I posted this same review on GoodReads but I’m going to put it here to. (It is also 3:00 AM so this is more of just an info-dump of my rage.)
WARNING: SPOILERS, SELF-HARM MENTION, SEX, SLIGHT HOMOPHOBIA
I had high hopes for this book. I first listened to the musical that was loosely based on this book and I thought it was fantastic so I decided to read the book. BAD. IDEA. This book had a wonderful concept but executed it poorly and, at the end, I felt like I was left hanging. There were also a lot of problematic parts.
1) The girls in this book were so horribly written and one-dimensional. Their only purpose was to be sex objects for the boys. Even Christine, the girl Jeremy was trying to date, was written so weird. I say weird because it felt like each line she had a completely different personality, it never felt like she was the same person saying what she did.
2) Gay is used as a derogatory term a few times in the book. There is a scene where the dad asks Jeremy if he is gay. And Jeremy answers back “I’m not gay. Don’t worry” (page 64). DON’T WORRY?? There is nothing to worry about! This may feel like an overreaction but this line really got me heated because that sends a message to kids who are gay or questioning that their parents have a right to be scared for their child to be attracted to the same gender.
3) Self-harm was brought up in the book and it was so horrible I had to put the book down and get myself a glass of water just so I could spit it onto the book. Jeremy and a girl are talking and she shows him her cuts all along her legs. She calls them “tattoos” and says that they are “beautiful.” And you know what Jeremy says? He says that she’s weird and she becomes overjoyed at that and then just leaves. And it is never brought up again. ??? This is a horrible message to send to anyone reading this book, especially to people who have thought about cutting. It lets them know that self harm is just “weird” and not harmful an tries to normalize it.
4) The dialogue. I mentioned above with Christine’s character but sometimes the dialogue felt very jumped, like it was a completely new character saying something when it wasn’t. It didn’t flow very well.
5) Michael Mell. In the musical, his character was important. In the book, Michael could have been completely erased and the only thing that would have changed was that Jeremy needed a ride to a party, a store, and the mall that one time. I had high hopes for him.
6) THE END. It was such a cut-off ending with no resolutions. It seemed like a book that would have had a fantastic ending, one where Jeremy realizes that he can just be himself and not need the help of a computer program to get a girlfriend. INSTEAD, the book ends with Jeremy humiliating himself by listening to his squip and then being told to “get the newer model” because one he has is faulty. And then the book just ends. He never got the girl, he didn’t learn a single thing, and we never learn what happened to Rich or Jake after the fire.
There are more detailed reviews on GoodReads. All in all, if you like the idea of this book and the concept, check out the musical.