Nerds are so hot.
Especially battle robot building nerds.
Bel would rather die than think about the future. College apps? You’re funny. Extracurriculars? Not a chance. But when she accidentally reveals a talent for engineering at school, she’s basically forced into joining the robotics club. Even worse? All the boys ignore Bel—and Neelam, the only other girl on the team, doesn’t seem to like her either.
Enter Mateo Luna, captain of the club, who recognizes Bel as a potential asset—until they start butting heads. Bel doesn’t care about Nationals, while Teo cares too much. But as the nights of after-school work grow longer and longer, Bel and Teo realize they’ve built more than just a combat-ready robot for the championship: they’ve made space for each other and themselves.
This sharply funny, academic rivals to lovers romance explores both the challenges girls of color face in STEM and the vulnerability of first love with unfailing wit and honesty.
Title : My Mechanical Romance
Author : Alexene Farol Follmuth
Format : eARC
Page Count : 272
Genre : YA contemporary romance
Publisher : Holiday House
Release Date : May 31, 2022
Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★
Hollis’ 3 star review
Okay, before the three star scares anyone else, please note, this was really cute. And the enjoyable parts were very enjoyable. There is a good chunk of diversity, this is STEM-focused, and, for something a little different, it’s engineering kinda sorta Big Hero 6 style with combat robotics. Very fun. Overall I think this is also likely very relatable on the subject of expectations for YA-aged kids transitioning into college, etc, too. Especially these days.
“Sometimes I think I’d rather be forty and wondering where my life went instead of seventeen and relentlessly hounded about my future. I can’t wait for my life of quiet desperation so I can finally meditate on all the ways I wasted my precious youth.”
So with all that goodness, why not a higher rating? Truthfully I don’t know. There was just something.. missing. I don’t know if I wanted the rival-flavoured dislike (not quite hate) to go on longer or not because I really liked how they warmed up to each other. I appreciated, too, that it wasn’t all easy fun joy within the robotics group itself. There were contentious relationships and dynamics and that felt very real. It wasn’t just outsiders (notably other boys) who made life difficult, and judged, the female MC for being involved, it was also the other girl in the group. And her reasons do eventually become revealed and are valid. Not 100% but like.. even the female MC comes around to it. It worked.
She’s acting like she knows me, and I feel like that’s not fair. I’ve been enjoying getting to know her, but apparently to her I’m nothing new.
But between those conflicts, the pressure the male MC had pressing down on his shoulders from those around him, and particularly his parents, it was again very real. Though of course I liked this particular style of conflict less. But I can’t say it really soured the whole enjoyment.. I don’t think?
“You’re new, you know? You’re like this new colour I didn’t know existed and now I see it everywhere and I’m like, thank god I can see it now. Such a bummer if I never did.”
See, honestly, I don’t know what was missing, or what maybe hit a wrong note (maybe it just could’ve been longer? maybe something could’ve been better fleshed out, more time with the secondary support so they felt a tiny bit more like their own persons? maybe, as I ponder this more, everything was just a little too.. surface) but regardless I think this is definitely worth your time if you’re interested in picking it up.
** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **