Thank you NetGalley and Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlhouhy Books for providing an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review.
Release Dater: March 22nd, 2016
Synopsis: Shiels is very pleased with her perfectly controlled life (controlling others while she’s at it). She’s smart, powerful, the Student Body Chair, and she even has a loving boyfriend. What more could a girl ask for?
But everything changes when the first-ever interspecies transfer student, a pterodactyl named Pyke, enrolls at her school. There’s something primal about him–that causes students to lose control whenever he’s around. Even Shield, the seemingly perfect self-confident girl that she is, can’t keep her mind off of him, despite her doting boyfriend and despite the fact that Pyke starts dating Jocelyn, the school’s fastest runner who Shiels has always discounted as a nobody.
Pyke, hugely popular in a school whose motto is to embrace differences, is asked to join a band, and when his band plays at the Autumn Whirl dance, his preternatural shrieking music sends everyone into a literal frenzy. No one can remember what happened the next day, but Shiels learns that she danced far she danced far too long with Luke, her nose has turned purple, and she may have done something with her boyfriend that she shouldn’t have. Who’s in control now?
So, you guys know I try my best to finish the books I read and plan on reviewing for this blog right? Particularly ones I get approved for from NetGalley, Edelweiss, and publishers. Even when they’re bad I do my best to plow through them, and I really, Really, REALLY tried to do the same with this book, but despite my best efforts about halfway through I finally had to give up.
When I first saw this offered on NetGalley I requested it because I thought the premise looked really original and I was expecting a clever and satirical look at high school life and the way we as a society tend to put people on pedestals for no apparent reason. I was also picturing how a book was going to combine a character that reminded me of Tracy Flick from the movie Election with a pterodactyl exchange student. I mean the possibilities were endless!
Instead, this devolved rather quickly in one hot mess. The first problem are the characters. Shiels is an unlikable caricature who has absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. She’s overly perky, pushy, and judgemental. Where Reese Witherspoon gave Tracy Flick a humorous and vulnerable side, these attributes were glaringly absent in Shiels. She sees people only in terms of how they can best serve her ambition. She has a rather contemptuous attitude towards everyone: the school principle (who admittedly is a tool), her classmates, her parents and even her long-suffering boyfriend. By the time she participates in this “wrangle-dance” with Pyke, which results in her sporting a purple nose (don’t ask), I had lost any ounce of sympathy I might have had for her. I was also feeling nauseous at this point which is why I gave up shortly thereafter.
I won’t go into detail. Just trust me. It was awful. While I only made it to the halfway point, none of the other main characters had anything to recommend about them either. Shiels’ boyfriend Sheldon is a doormat and I couldn’t imagine why he was in love with her. And Pyke! I don’t even know what to say beyond that he can barely speak English, and has a screeching voice. It was impossible to picture him as the lead singer for a band, let alone a sex symbol for teens. At this point I went on Goodreads and checked out some of the other reviews. While I felt vindicated after reading that the majority felt as I did, I also was alarmed because it looked as though the book gets even worse. This is why I chose to stop reading. That and I was already wishing I could scrub my eyes and my brain out.
Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend could have worked as a funny satire, but instead it’s confusing, slightly pornographic and extremely disturbing. I’ve read some truly horrible books in my time but this is definitely one of the worst. It left me wondering at not only what the author was hoping to accomplish, but also what the heck a well-respected publisher like Simon and Schuster was thinking. And what about the editor? I can only assume they were drunk or on drugs when they gave their final approval. I can’t even come up with a rating! I don’t usually do this, but if any of you YA fiction fans are thinking of trying this, I beg of you, DON’T! Let me spare you the horror and pain!