My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

I picked up this read after following some discussion on instagram discussing how it was a “Sex Education” inspired tale featuring a queer girl lead who is a scientist. I like to read YA to connect with my youth, and was curious how a book that centered a drug that manipulated attraction would handle discussions of consent.

The main character Caro was difficult for a majority of the book, and most frustratingly, very self-deprecating. I work with pre-teens and teenagers, and honestly, a lot of young girls act this way; constantly hating on themselves, and taking extreme measures to increase their attraction. As an adult reader, I appreciated Steven’s use of an extreme drug as a metaphor for the very real extreme measures girls take to change themselves.

In that same vein, using the drugs as a metaphor provided a great vehicle to discuss consent. Can anyone consent if they are mesmerized by the influence of a drug? Of course not! I appreciated how the main character and her friends had this frank discussion, and that the main character held herself accountable.

While I liked the surprise queer coupling in the end, it felt a little rushed, and I would have preferred that the writer would have spent more time developing this climax, rather than keeping the majority of her big discovery in the background. Figuring out you’re queer is a big deal, and even if your love interest was already in your life. I would have loved 40% less discussion of pinning after boys, and just a bit more on falling in love with your best friend.  My two cents!

Overall, a fun, funny, and smart journey into the mind of a hopeless romantic teenager with an insatiable hunger for big questions. Great dialogue around consent, and the complexities of consent in romantic and platonic friendships, which is a great inclusion for a book catered to young adults.