Title: The Boy Recession
Author: Flynn Meaney
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Julius P. Heil High is a fairly normal school until a good proportion of its attractive boys transfer out over the summer. When Kelly, Hunter, and their friends return in the fall, all accepted dating conventions have been thrown out the window. Seniors are going out with freshmen. “Promstitutes” are hired as companions for prom. Boys previously considered undateable are suddenly in high demand. Even Hunter Fahrenbach, best described as a musically gifted slacker, finds his attentions fought over, much to the disappointment of his friend Kelly when she suddenly realizes how much she likes him.
The Boy Recession is narrated by both Kelly and Hunter as they describe the changes taking place at their school and how their lives are affected. Unfortunately, the creative premise is followed by a love story I have read or watched countless times before, with no added twists: Kelly and Hunter like each other, but various factors prevent them from becoming a couple until the end of the school year. Then it’s happily ever after, as far as we know.
The most disappointing aspect of this book is the weak characters. Hunter is characterized a minimal amount; we at least meet his parents and learn more about his life outside of the immediate plot. But after finishing the book, I still felt like I knew nothing about Kelly. We don’t learn anything about her family, and as far as we know she has no interesting quirks or unique attributes. There is nothing that makes her come alive. The most engaging and interesting character is Hunter’s friend Eugene, a keen but shady businessman who makes money by supplying alcohol for parties and importing fancy hair extensions. Unfortunately, he only has a minor role in the story. Character development is also deficient. In most satisfying romance novels, the protagonist must overcome some internal problem before he or she is ready for a relationship with the love interest. This is definitely not true for Kelly. Hunter is developed slightly; he becomes less lazy and gains some self-worth. To me, this seemed like a very superficial way of developing a character, and I would have liked to see a deeper exploration of Hunter’s life and values.
Despite these drawbacks, I would not say that I disliked The Boy Recession. Flynn Meaney did make me laugh occasionally, and she describes high school fairly realistically. Mostly, the novel is lacking—what’s there is decent, the problem is what’s missing. In the future, I hope that Meaney continues to come up with innovative premises, but takes more care with her characters.
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