36 QUESTIONS THAT CHANGED MY MIND ABOUT YOU is your typical YA contemporary, disguised within a cool and unique concept that was, sadly, poorly executed.

36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You follows Hildy and Paul, when they both decide to take part in a university psychology study in which the main focus is to see whether love can be engineered. Both of them have completely different reasons to why they agree to answer questions and join the study; Hildy actually knowing what the study is about and deciding to push herself out of her comfort zone and Paul only focused on the $40 he will make after taking part. However they are then paired together to answer the 36 questions.

Disappointment. Definitely the perfect word to describe my feelings after flipping the last page. I had pretty high expectations for this novel, as the concept was the most unique thing I had heard about in a while. I mean, I’m one of the biggest haters of the insta-love trope, but two strangers attempting to fall in love via Q&A? Count me in.

What I got? The “emotionless” bad boy who hates talking about his feelings, who’s actually very talented and dropped out of high school for no actual reason, and the innocent, sweet, perfect white girl whose family is actually REALLY screwed up and thinks romance is hopeless for her. And she’s a drama geek. Sound familiar?

They weren’t exactly terrible, but in my opinion, they were incredibly cliché and stereotypical. Hildy was shy, but also never stopped talking. Her family relationship had the potential of being very complex and fascinating to read about. The Sangsters in general fell flat for me because they were very superficial and their personalities were their problems and struggles. I wanted more than that. Paul, on the other hand, had all of those YA leading man tropes, but his story… It tugged at my heart and really hit home. When the time came for the big reveal of why he was so lonely, I didn’t cry but I almost did. There was so much focus onto Hildy and her troubles; Paul deserved that spotlight.

I appreciated the bit of diversity amidst the whiteness, even if the side characters were majorly insignificant. Xiu, Hildy’s best girl friend, was Asian, and her best guy friend, Max, identified as gay. Two very diverse people who had the best potential, and once again, were written in the most stereotypical way possible.

The pacing was a little off. After a certain incident involving a flying fish, I wasn’t exactly sure when things were taking place. I am a person who gets distracted very easily, so the fact that the time and place wasn’t exactly explained really threw me off and confused my brain. Besides that, it was incredibly quick to read, perfect for read-a-thons and for getting out of a reading slump or book hangover.

Now, now. Lots of feelings about the writing are nestled in my mind. 36 Questions felt like a quilt, sewn together with all these patches of meaningless dialogue. While reading, I kept thinking, “Where exactly is this going?” All the main characters did was babble again, and again, and again. About the same things. The conversations were so predictable, it hurt. They always went in the same direction, and it was one of the most bothersome aspects of the book. The writing itself was pretty plain and basic, nothing too special.

Would I recommend this super fun and quirky novel? Of course. It was a total blast to read an if you’re looking for a summer contemporary, give this one a shot. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped I would, but is still worth checking out.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You by Vicki Grant is available now in online retailers and bookstores everywhere. You can order it via Amazon.

Inspired by the real psychology study popularized by the New York Times and its “Modern Love” column, this contemporary YA is perfect for fans of Eleanor and Park.

Hildy and Paul each have their own reasons for joining the university psychology study that asks the simple question: Can love be engineered?

The study consists of 36 questions, ranging from “What is your most terrible memory?” to “When did you last sing to yourself?” By the time Hildy and Paul have made it to the end of the questionnaire, they’ve laughed and cried and lied and thrown things and run away and come back and driven each other almost crazy. They’ve also each discovered the painful secret the other was trying so hard to hide. But have they fallen in love?

Told in the language of modern romance—texting, Q&A, IM—and punctuated by Paul’s sketches, this clever high-concept YA is full of humor and heart. As soon as you’ve finished reading, you’ll be searching for your own stranger to ask the 36 questions. Maybe you’ll even fall in love.

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