Audrey McCarthy is the troubled heroine of The Boyfriend App, she is a teenage girl faced with typical problems: boy trouble, ex-best friend issues and worrying about getting into an affordable college. Luckily for her she has a chance of fixing the latter problem by entering an app designing contest. “Hello, World. Hello, Contest. Hello, College Scholarship. Hello, Boys. Here comes Audrey McCarthy. Trog. Hacker. Sex object. Inventor of the Boyfriend App.”
From a synopsis like that one would expect this novel to be a teen romance filled with drama and light comedy, and that is exactly what the novel delivers… in Part One anyway. Part One of the novel is decent, the characters seem rather static but they are characterized well. Audrey is a tragic but interesting protagonist because of her thoughts and feelings; she gets the support needed from her friends and family despite her personal shortcomings. Her antagonists are pretty boring since they behave so stereotypically, especially Blake, the rich and popular ex-BFF who treats Audrey as a stranger yet ceaselessly torments her whenever the opportunity arises. Audrey’s friends are likeable, but it feels like they are just crutches for Audrey and lack their own purpose.
As for the plot it played out well for the first part of the novel. Audrey struggled but eventually reached the threshold for success with her app. Her app became popular and it seemed like she had a really good chance of winning the contest, until a very expected “glitch in the system” strikes and her popularity topples like a house of cards. Part One was well written, especially her process of programming the app. The coding and the explanations were simple enough for readers to understand without being condescending to anyone who would not know about coding. The way Part One ended invites curiosity for what would happen in Part Two, but that’s where the story began to fall apart. While Part One had a realistic story and struggles, Part Two escalated to corporate conspiracies and neurological manipulation! I was awestruck at how quickly Part Two leaped away from the events of Part One and laughed at how absurd the later chapters had become!
With respect to style, the writing appeals to a youthful demographic since it is loaded with pop culture references. The narration is fast paced and has a few time skips, but dialogue between the characters is what carries the novel forward. One of my pet peeves with the writing is constant references to Google and Twitter, but tacky renaming of several real life products (e.g. iPhone/buyPhone, iTunes/buyJams, Facebook/PUBLIC PARTY). It’s a very annoying inconsistency.
Overall, The Boyfriend App is a nice little teen romance that starts off nice and realistic, but loses its original scope when the story escalates to imaginative and bizarre levels. Rating: 3.5/5.