36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You
Published October 17, 2017
I should admit upfront that contemporary YA is not my favorite genre, but I was intrigued by the premise of this book. It’s based on a psychology study that claims that two subjects answering a series of 36 questions can develop a level of intimacy that can lead to love. I had heard of the study and found the idea of it interesting (the New York Times had a piece in their Modern Love column about the questions). So, the idea of a YA book based on this study grabbed my attention.
Hildy is a high school senior with major family problems that she blames herself for. She signs up for a university psychology study in an effort to learn something about herself. She’s paired with Paul, who’s just there to earn $40. The experiment doesn’t go all that well at first, since Hildy is an oversharer, and Paul doesn’t take things very seriously. They only answer a few of the questions before Hildy throws a fish at Paul (it’s a long story, but the fish is an integral part of the plot) and storms out. But Paul really wants his $40, so he tracks Hildy down online and they start answering the rest of the questions, which brings them closer.
I enjoyed this one, and it was a solid 3.5 stars for me. The two main characters felt a bit like stereotypes at first (Hildy seems like an adorable, klutzy manic pixie dream girl, and Paul is a snarky loner), but as the book went on, they felt more fleshed out. Hildy’s family is imploding, and she feels powerless to help them. Paul hasn’t had an easy life, which makes him guarded and more than a little sarcastic. More than half of the book is in the form of ongoing text message conversations, in which the pair attempt to answer the questions, get easily side-tracked, and learn a lot about each other.
I enjoy epistolary novels, and I guess novels in text are the 2017 equivalent. There are a few standard narrative chapters, but most of the book is in text format. Paul is an artist, and there are going to be illustrations in the final version of the book., (Unfortunately, the illustrations weren’t in the advance copy I read, but I think they’ll add a lot to the story. I’m all in favor of the trend of including illustrations in YA books. Or non-YA books. I like pictures.)
This book is a clever twist on the typical YA contemporary romance, and I think it may appeal to readers who don’t usually read this genre.
I received an ARC for review from Amazon Vine.