So here’s the premise: teenage boy is awkward, nerdy, uncool. He hears about a pill, a “squip,” that is a microcomputer that will give him instructions on how to be cool (or “more chill”). He gets a squip, becomes cool, and eventually the squip fails – its technology isn’t perfect yet.
You might have been thinking – wait, wait, as YAF shouldn’t this book have ended with the boy realizing he’s better off as himself, without the aid of a microcomputer telling him exactly what to say? No. No, that’s not the moral: the moral is wait to buy yourself the exact piece of technology that will make imperfect-you more perfect so that you might have money, friends, and sex.
And the sex part? Apparently young women lack self-esteem to such an extraordinary degree that not only do they cut themselves while purging while gossiping about their slutty ex-best-friend, but they are also willing and committed to having sex with any man who might be interested. The only exception to this rule the young woman that our hero is in love with – and it turns out she’s “weird,” and hence “frigid.”
This book shouldn’t be read by anyone, let alone a young adult trying to sort out how they might learn to be okay with their awkward weirdness, because the message? You’re not okay, and it’s not likely you’ll be okay unless you buy something really expensive and/or have sex with an self-loathing young woman. The book, as a result, both deeply disturbing and depressing. Maybe that’s how it is with kids these days? Nah. I think instead Vizzini might try being less chill, and instead he might try to be more responsible.