Book Reviews

Book Review: How to Make Out

Image result for how to make out brianna shrum

How to Make Out is the story of Renley, a sixteen-year-old math geek with an incredibly hot, womanizing best friend, some serious daddy issues, a crush on some hot senior, and a need for thousands of dollars to go with the math club to New York City. So, she starts a blog to make the money, and typical YA emotions ensue.


My biggest problem with this book is that the author clearly has no idea how blogging works. Within the first couple days of having a “how to” blog where she charges money to ask questions and money to view the answers, Renley has hundreds of dollars. I have a blog–one that doesn’t cost people any money to look at–and I’m lucky if I get a hundred views in a month. But the idea intrigues me. Maybe there’s some untapped part of the Internet that would go for that. So be on the lookout for a contact form to go up soon. It’s time to experiment. But anyway, back to the review.

Renley is an unlikeable and unsympathetic character who completely ignores her hot best friend’s advances because of her daddy issues, instead beginning to date the utterly unachievable popular senior who may or may not be a nice guy? I’m not really sure what the author was trying to do with him. He dates popular girls in an “on again, off again” way and hangs out with the “bad” crowd, but he doesn’t want to have sex and he’s somehow flirting with a nerdy junior who everyone thinks has a boyfriend and I guess he’s an amateur chef, too? And he’s willing to take her back after she posts the contents of their relationship in graphic detail online? But we don’t know that because obviously she ends up with her best friend and he just kind of gets forgotten. I don’t know.

Renley also has the typical YA chip on her shoulder: my parents don’t understand me, boys don’t notice me, people don’t like me, so I’m going to be a dick to everyone and suddenly boys will notice me and people will like me in spite of that, and I’m going to totally forget who I am when they do. Can we be done with that, please? She also has the added bonus of “I hate my stepmom and will make no exceptions to that despite the fact that she is unfailingly nice to me.” I can’t abide characters who are so wrapped up in their own issues that they don’t respond to kindness. Like sure, hate your family, whatever. But don’t hate your family because they’re nice to you. Sheesh.

Her best friend, Drew, is also unlikeable. He has a revolving door of girls while reminding Renley almost daily that he’s in love with her. He’s also the one, in the end, who tells everyone–including her dad–that she’s the anonymous author of her blog. Which is a total dick move. Everyone is supposed to be like “oh, it’s good, she realized the error of her ways” blah blah blah, but I’m sorry, if someone did that to me, we would not be speaking. Possibly ever. I can make my own decisions, thanks, even if they’re terrible. What I tell you in confidence is not to be used against me, even for my own good. I can’t get over the fact that everyone, especially Renley, was just okay with it.

The other thing I can’t get over: Someone that good at math cannot possibly be that bad at cooking. It’s just not possible. Cooking is essentially chemistry, with a little artistry. Sure, maybe she couldn’t make up a recipe or improvise, but if you can do a math problem, you can follow a recipe. If you can do physics, you can roll out pizza dough. Honestly, you’d have to be completely incompetent to fail at the level Renley does. I don’t believe it. I’m going to throw out a guess here and say that the author wasn’t good at math in high school. Because, speaking as someone who was, Renley doesn’t really think like a math geek, either.

All that being said, the book held my interest and the prose wasn’t glaringly terrible, which earned it two stars from me on goodreads instead of one.


Writing: 5/10 The sentences fit together like sentences are supposed to, but it wasn’t memorable.

Intensity: 3/10 I can’t really say I cared what happened to the characters, but I suppose I cared enough to finish it, for what that’s worth.

Characters: 1/10 My thoughts on that are above.

Interest: 4/10 It came close to scratching my itch for a YA romance, and it’s definitely not the worst I’ve read.

Overall: 3/10


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