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MY MECHANICAL ROMANCE by Alexene Farol Follmuth – double review

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/Micky
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. **


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Cute
Nerds unite

My Mechanical Romance was cute but very familiar in that I felt like I’d read a version of this story a number of times before. There was some uniqueness related to the robot science-y fight club and I appreciated the swipes at misogyny the female MC faced, although that didn’t go as far as I’d have liked to have seen. Add in parent troubles, different side of the tracks and it made for a sweet and predictable read.

If you enjoy a nerd-centric high school (18 year old protagonists) setting with intelligent characters, then this book will work for you. I don’t think it’s ultimately memorable but it was a quick and mostly satisfying read. I enjoyed the epilogue and time jump.

Thank you to the publisher through netgalley for the eARC.

THE BOOK OF LIFE by Deborah Harkness

Bringing the magic and suspense of the All Souls Trilogy to a deeply satisfying conclusion, this highly anticipated finale went straight to #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. In The Book of Life, Diana and Matthew time-travel back from Elizabethan London to make a dramatic return to the present—facing new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home, Sept-Tours, they reunite with the beloved cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. 


Title : The Book of Life
Author : Deborah Harkness
Series : All Souls (book three)
Format : physical
Page Count : 561
Genre : paranormal romance / historical
Publisher : Viking Adult
Release Date : June 15, 2014

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

Well.. we didn’t end on a high (though to be honest I did not expect to) but this was better than book two. Which, admittedly, was a low bar so it wasn’t really that hard.

Strangely this book was the most unlike the adaptation’s version than any other season. And I don’t know why! The bulk of it didn’t differ but it had the most changes. Having said that, in hindsight I do like some the changes the show made but others.. others I preferred the way they had been done in the book. Vague vagueness ensues.

I don’t have a lot to say about this “finale” (I think Time’s Convert is considered book four but I wonder if it’s more of a companion? I’ll find out shortly!). Some parts felt rather anticlimactic. And, sure, maybe on a whole I’m just feeling a little out of step with the series as a whole but I feel it with this book in particular. After all that time plodding through (hah) time in book two, this instalment hopped and jumped and sped through so much, making the whole experience rather rushed and, ultimately, not as satisfying. 

That said, there was so much history, so much science, that it cannot be denied the series is well researched. It’s really just some particular characters and some of the execution where I don’t quite connect. So I’m very curious to see how I fare with another perspective (or two?) and with a different (I assume! now that the main conflict has wrapped) focus.