Review: This Is My Brain on Boys by Sarah Strohmeyer

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: This Is My Brain on Boys by Sarah StrohmeyerThis Is My Brain on Boys by Sarah Strohmeyer
Published by Balzer + Bray on May 10, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository

Addie Emerson doesn’t believe in love. Not for herself, anyway. With one year left of high school, she’s more interested in snagging a full scholarship to Harvard than a full-time boyfriend.

That doesn’t mean she’s oblivious to the ways of the heart. Or, rather, the head. Because after months of research, Addie has discovered how to make anyone fall in love. All you need is the secret formula.

But will her discovery be enough to win the coveted Athenian Award and all its perks? (See above, full scholarship to Harvard.) Or will she be undone by Dexter, her backstabbing lab partner, who is determined to deep-six her experiments at their exclusive private school?

Those are the least of her problems now that she’s survived a death-defying flight with a mysterious, dark-haired boy, who has delicious chocolate-brown eyes and a few secrets of his own.

With an experiment to mastermind, an infatuated exchange student on her hands, and at least one great white shark (more on that later), can Addie’s prefrontal cortex outwit her heart? Or will she have to give in to her amygdala and find out, once and for all, if this thing called love is more than just her brain on drugs?

I enjoyed the opening of This Is My Brain on Boys, but it took a severe plunge once I got about 70 pages in. Unfortunately, I was far enough in that I didn’t want to DNF. This Is My Brain on Boys is inconsistent and insult to “science. The premise sounded so promising (premising?), with a scientific genius heroine running an experiment on love and falling in love in the process. Unfortunately, it’s just not done well.

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Let’s start with Addie. She’s clearly somewhere on the Autistic spectrum, though I’m not knowledgeable enough to say more than that. While highly intelligent, she takes everything completely literally, struggling with irony and phrases, as well as small talk. That, I liked pretty well. I’d be curious to know what that community would think about her perspective, but, as a pretty literal person myself, I liked the voice in the beginning.

Except that it was completely inconsistent. Addie would fail to recognize common expressions, though, even in the text, it’s shown that she does have the capability to memorize them and what they mean. The fact that there are so many very common expressions she fails to recognize in This Is My Brain on Boys makes her come off as much less intelligent than she’s meant to. Also, Addie occasionally completely fails to take things literally, completely against her characterization. She refers to her lab partner as a “robot” and describes a shade of pink as “fairy-vomit” pink, for example, even though she would have corrected someone else had they done this because neither of those things is actually true. Most egregiously, Addie references Romeo and Juliet and, well, just see:

Addie wished she could have studied the real Romeo and Juliet in the flesh. Too bad they didn’t cryogenically store blood samples in Verona back in the day. Because how awesome would it be to centrifuge their neurohormone levels, eh?

ROMEO AND JULIET ARE FUCKING FICTIONAL CHARACTERS. WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK? Strohmeyer aims for a Sheldon Cooper sort of voice, and it falls flat. Addie knows a lot more than just science stuff, and she would sure as hell know that Romeo and Juliet was not one of Shakespeare’s histories.

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On top of that, the voice completely changes whenever Addie’s feeling things. I mean, sure, feelings will result in some illogic, but there are sentences that feel zero percent like the rest of that POV.

He took a step closer, triggering a rush of epinephrine that made her swoon. He was so cute and tall and just super-nice.

That first sentence is what Addie generally reads like, a scientific analysis of the impact her emotions are having on her physically, even mid-swoon. Then all of a sudden she sounds like a twelve-year-old describing some actor she has a crush on as she reads an article about him in Seventeen. Meanwhile, Kris’ POV might as well just not be there because it’s so bland.

Then there’s Addie’s experiment which is such bad science that even I can tell. She’s trying to prove that people will fall in love if they are thrust together in stressful situations so that she can win a neuroscience award. Her proofs involve: one untraumatized pair of gerbils that didn’t mate and one traumatized pair of gerbils that did mate, as well as her best friends she set up and one study where she intrudes on the experiment. This shoddy science bothers me because 1) she’s supposed to be a genius and 2) her teachers totally go with it! We are supposed to be impressed by the science acumen displayed here and just no.

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The romance started out pretty cute in the airplane scene, but then a whole bunch of terrible background is added. Kris, it turns out, has a girlfriend, who is a manipulative bitch, of course. Even though he already dislikes her at the start of the novel, he doesn’t actually dump her until the very end. By it’s very premise, This Is My Brain on Boys is trying to sell me on the fact that Addie and Kris are in love, but he doesn’t care enough about Addie to dump his girlfriend that he doesn’t even want to date anymore? Um yeah no.

Given how much I loved Smart Girls Get What They Want, This is My Brain on Boys disappointed me monstrously. Don’t read it unless you don’t mind cheating or shockingly terrible science.

Favorite Quote:

Addie nodded. “Really. You’re one-hundred-percent safe. Planes fly with one engine all the time.”

“See, Tommy?” his mother said. “No reason to cry.”

“I didn’t know that.” He sniffed again.

“It’s the first three minutes after takeoff and the last eight minutes until landing where you run into trouble,” she continued, hoping to nurture his nascent interest in aviation. “That’s why landing is nothing more than a controlled crash.” To illustrate, Addie plunged her hand through the air between them. “One gust of wind shear and we’re toast!”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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One response to “Review: This Is My Brain on Boys by Sarah Strohmeyer”

  1. hahaahahah, I just got to experience how awful this book was all over again. But your review is perfection. A+
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