Review: FML by Shaun Hutchinson

FML Book Cover FML
Shaun Hutchinson

Tonight’s the night: Simon’s big chance to finally get with Cassie. Cassie, who he’s loved for ages. Cassie, who is newly boyfriend-free. Cassie, who just happens to be throwing the biggest party of the year. Simon’s plan is simple: He’ll go to the party, she’ll fall in love with him, they’ll make out like crazy, and the night will be a complete success.

But things don’t ever go as planned…especially when it comes to Cassie.

In two alternating plotlines, Simon goes after the girl of his dreams and stumbles toward his destiny. It’s one night, one party, and a thousand ways for things to go wrong…but a million ways for them to go right.

Review:

I never went to any real parties back when I was in high school (yeah, yeah, I was a dork), but if they were anything like the party in FML I really missed out during my teenage years.

If you’re in the mood for a fun, clever story featuring unique characters, a wild party, and a dose of alternate realities, FML is the book for you. Simon, the protagonist, has had a crush on Cassie, one of the most popular girls at school, for years. When he hears that she’s having a senior year blowout – and that she’s newly single – Simon decides to use the opportunity to finally profess his love for her.

FML starts as one story but quickly diverges into two separate storylines, showing the different ways the party could unfold based on Simon’s decisions as well as events that are out of his control. It’s almost like one of those old “pick your adventure” books in that it allows you to see how different decisions affect the outcome of the story.

At times it was a little confusing trying to keep the events of both storylines straight, but doing so was well worth the effort. It was really cool watching how the same events and interactions occurred in both plots but in very different ways. Plus, everything came together perfectly at the end – I couldn’t have asked for a more fitting resolution.

I had such a great time reading FML. There are a lot of wild, entertaining stunts going on at the party, from contact Scrabble to a poolside re-enactment of Romeo and Juliet. There’s also the really fun aspect of the party being a “barter” party, which basically means that all of the party-goers are running around the whole night trying to come up with crazy schemes to trade one object for another until they end up with a specific target object. The revelers and their zany antics serve as a great backdrop for the story; in a way they’re almost like part of the setting more than they are actual characters.

The characters who do serve a purpose beyond being part of the background aren’t your normal teen scene stock characters. Cassie isn’t conventionally beautiful, nor is she confident and bold like many popular girls in books and movies. She has depth, flaws, and unique personality traits, and I could see why Simon likes her. Likewise, Cassie’s ex-boyfriend isn’t a tool, but a good guy who legitimately loves her and is nice to her and others, even the less-than-cool kids at school. Simon’s gay best friends are popular, not the objects of ridicule, and there’s not one big, bad bully but several, each of whom is very distinct.

Again, I may not have gotten to go to any actual parties as a teen, but reading about the one in FML is the next best thing. If you’re up for a crazy, unexpectedly fun read, check out FML today.