Review: “Date Me, Bryson Keller” by Kevin van Whye

Why yes I did bring my Kindle hiking.

Maybe I’m a Scrooge. 

Maybe it’s that my 23 years have suddenly decided to add up into one explosion of “get off my lawn” crotchetiness, because while undoubtedly “Date Me, Bryson Keller” is a cute YA novel, conceptually it is just so young. Writing-wise, characterization-wise, dialogue-wise (“wow that sucks major donkey balls” is something I really had to read)— it all just screamed “freshman year got us thinking us cool kids are going to be the shit” when in reality, they’re all just kind of embarrassing.

And, ya’ll, I really wanted to like this novel. The premise is so cute. The popular boy goes out with a new person every week as a widely-known school “dare” and then our main character, Kai, reasons out that the dare said a new “person” had to go out with him, not a new “girl” so in a fit of daring he asks the popular boy out.

It was the premise of the ages! And yet what I think the main problem of this novel is, is that it got lost in trying to fit all the tropes that YA readers supposedly love into one book. 

And I’m going to be honest, a great majority of this book read as a LGBT knockoff of High School Musical without the singing. SEVERAL of the secondary characters sounded like they were unscrupulously plucked from Mr. Kenny Ortega’s hand and given new names and slightly different backstories. The drama teacher? Carbon copy of Mrs. Darbus. Shannon? Journalistic Sharpay Evans at your service

It was frustrating. And not only that, but I think quite a few lines of dialogue want to come off as profound, but they end up sounding like bastardization of Tumblr posts. And I’m the queen of bastardizing Tumblr quotes in daily life. The dialogue in general was a little oddly put together. Jokes and puns that didn’t quite land, flirting that just made me go bright red from the second hand embarrassment… you know, that kind of stuff. 

OH. And we got from “I barely know Bryson Keller to omg I feel a flutter for Bryson Keller and then “I Love You Bryson Keller” really effing fast. 

One other minor thing that also rubbed me the wrong way was the bi-erasure in the story. Apart from one throwaway line, it’s like the concept of anything other than straight or gay just… doesn’t exist? 

Now it wasn’t all bad! The novel did note the way throwaway lines like “that’s gay” or “you know that gay kid” from your friends can really prick at someone in the closet. I love Kai’s relationship with his parents and him considering his place as a mixed kid. I wish there was more of them and less of the Oh-So-Wise Little Sister. She’s tiring. I also think they handled the events of the second half of the book with a good deal of grace.

This is not a book that is going to pull you down. It’s light and it’s sweet and its eventual goal is to follow in the vein of romantic comedies, I just didn’t connect with the full feature like I had hoped I would.

Idk, I’m morose ya’ll. Bereft. I wanted to love this book and not only because I paid like $17 bucks for it. I just wish it had more.  2.5/5.

*With a sad and broken* Thank you, next please.

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3409553087

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