These days I love a good YA contemporary or romance. Especially when they’re nerdy. So My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth, aka Olivie Blake, sounded like a perfect read for me. I might not know much about robots or STEM. That’s not the type of nerd I am, but I was eager to check it out, and I’m all for supporting women in STEM.
This book follows Bel and Teo, two seniors at a prestigious high school where science is pretty cool. That’s not quite Bel’s scene, and when it comes to college applications, she’d rather than die than think about them, much to the school’s chagrin. Teo, on the other hand, has everything planned. He is going to be the best ‘soccer’ captain, win at the Robotics Nationals and get into MIT. When Bel accidentally proves she’s a mechanical genius in a class project, she is pushed to join the robotics team. At first, she was not happy about it. But as sparks begin to fly between her and Teo, she realises that within that club, she’s found two things she loves.
If you’re looking for a book that talks about women in STEM and proves that they don’t need to act one way to belong, this will be for you. There are three girls within the club, and all have different interests and mindsets. It was good to see, even if there is a lot of in-fighting for a good portion of the book. This is a story that shines a heavy light on the misogyny with the sciences. The girls are clearly on the team for diversity points; the girls will always need extra help when the boys don’t, and the boys will always be the stars. Reading this book made me so mad, but I count that as one of the good points. We should be angry that teenage girls are being treated like this. Girls reading this book should be able to see that if they like science or maths, they belong in those teams and classes just as much as the boys. We need to start calling out a lot of that crap, especially when even the teachers are playing along with it.
Other than that, I wasn’t actually a big fan of this book. I got through it quickly, and it made me grin in places, but that was not enough. My favourite characters were probably Bel’s best friend Jamie, Teo’s best friend Dash, and Bel’s older brother, Luke. This is a book with some pretty heavy family dynamics, and I did feel for both kids. The way they’ve been bought up and their lives have been going is causing them to act certain ways. That’s not fair on them. Teo doesn’t have to be the best, and neither Bel nor her brothers would be a failure if they didn’t get into a top school. It was frustrating, and it complicated my feelings so much. Is it important to the characters and the readers to see that things like this happen? Yes. Did it make the protagonists unlikable? No. But they both felt wishy-washy in their own ways, and it didn’t really feel like we saw those issues properly dealt with. In the end, they were okay, and their parents were happy with that. That was it. For issues that put a dampener on the book at times, that felt a little rushed.
When I started this book, I really thought I was going to love it. And since it was such an easy read, it feels like I should like it. But the moment I finished the book, I started wondering whether I did enjoy the book or not? Asking that question suggests to me that no. I didn’t really. It didn’t necessarily expect something just cutesy. I’m fine with heavy themes, even in romance and contemporary. But it didn’t feel like enough time was spent on either of those aspects.
If you’re looking for YA with a focus on STEM, then do check this book out. But if you’re not curious about that aspect, then there are better YA romances out there.
Title: My Mechanical Romance
Author: Alexene Farol Follmuth
Age Range: Young Adult
Publisher: Holiday House
Release Date: 31/5/22