“36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You” by Vicki Grant
A psychology experiment serves as the impetus that drives decidedly opposite Hildy (our protagonist) and Paul (her love interest) together in this YA work by Vicki Grant.
As the book opens, straight-laced and stressed Hildy is being interviewed by a researcher for inclusion in a study aimed at determining whether two people can be made to feel an attachment to each other – aka, forced into a relationship – by posing and responding to a list of curated questions.
Hildy jumps at the chance to participate – because she wants to be in love – and heads off to a room to wait for a partner.
Then Paul arrives. He doesn’t allow the researcher to describe the study. He’s only there for the $40. He doesn’t give an F about…well…anything.
Put ‘em together and what do you get?
Well, if you’ve seen…or read…anything in the meet-cute, rom-com genre, you know the answer is instant attraction.
So, did it work?
Well, yes and no.
Let’s start with the “yes”.
“ur not like most girls. ur not plastered in makeup either. I can see ur skin. I like that”
This seemingly flippant quote – written (by the male love interest of the book via Facebook messenger) in appallingly bad form – sums up what I adored about the boy and girl lead in this book.
You could see their skins.
Metaphorically, of course.
I believe them.
I liked them.
I wanted them to succeed.
See, the likelihood of the grungy artist that our perfectionistic protagonist gets matched with turning out to have a heart of gold and hidden depth is slim to say the least. But I’m willing to suspend my disbelief.
To a point.
Which brings me to the “no”.
I spent the vast majority of my time reading this book thinking, “Oh, this is good. This concept. These characters. 4 cocktails, maybe 5!”
Then…the plot hit the skids.
At one point, our protagonist arranges a face-to-face meet up with Paul (who doesn’t have a phone…so hipster of him). They make this agreement to meet right after he tells her how important people being on time is to him.
Obviously, you can guess right away that something is going to keep her from showing up at the meeting.
My problem is not with the formulaicness of something going wrong (Afterall, sometimes stuff is part of a formula because it works) My problem is with what went wrong.
We are expected to believe that our protagonist’s father (who is also her principal and advisor for the drama club) sold her brother’s beloved fish tank on CraigsList, devastating this brother and leading him to run away.
Why would he do that?
What does he have to gain?
*Note – later in the plot we discover something about this brother that is supposed to explain the father’s behavior, but it so, So, SO doesn’t.
Even looking back on the book after having finished it, I still must resolutely say that there is nothing about this action that makes sense. It’s unrealistic and forced and detrimental to the overall quality of the book.
After this point of huge frustration, I read on. Waiting for the book to redeem itself.
The character remained strong and the ending was cute, but the wound inflicted by this egregiously bad plot point was simply too gaping to fully heal.
All in all, this book did make me feel….at least marginally… good.
It was an easy, relatively enjoyable read.
If you do decide to read it, just be prepared for an I’m-going-to-throw-this-book-across-the-room-in-frustration part about two-thirds of the way through.
Based primarily on character strength, it gets 3 out of 5 cocktails.
One of the ways Vicki Grant really endeared us to these characters was through the use of dialogue. What book do you think uses dialogue exceptionally well? Tell me about it in the comments, below.
Want to see what’s in my TBR pile? Stalk me, here.