Be More Chill

By Ned Vizzini

12,410 ratings - 3.65* vote

Jeremy Heere is your average high school dork. Day after day, he stares at beautiful Christine, the girl he can never have, and dryly notes the small humiliations that come his way. Until the day he learns about the "squip." A pill-sized supercomputer that you swallow, the squip is guaranteed to bring you whatever you most desire in life. By instructing him on everything f Jeremy Heere is your average high school dork. Day after day, he stares at beautiful Christine, the girl he can

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Book details

Paperback, 287 pages
September 1st 2005 by Disney-Hyperion

(first published April 19th 2004)

Original Title
Be More Chill
ISBN
0786809965 (ISBN13: 9780786809967)
Edition Language
English

Community Reviews

Gauri

This is the most vile and terrible book I have read in a long, long while. I finished this in one day, not because it was engrossing, but the material presented in here was so shocking I needed to read until the end to make sure it wasn't a satire.

The premise of this book is essentially that a high-school aged boy, Jeremy, who longs after a particular girl and has low self-esteem about his persona, comes across a small pill-sized supercomputer called a "squip" that can act as a instructional guide on how to behave and what to do to accomplish one's goals. Using this, he is able to be considered "cool" and be among other popular teenagers who he once admired.

What is just terrible about this book is that the author portrays and discusses girls and women as objects.

Jeremy intentionally engages in sexual and romantic relationships with girls that he is not interested in, in order to demonstrate his sexual activity and be praised and viewed highly for it among his peers. By doing this, he hopes to gain the favor of his crush who maintains a distance from him. The Squip instructs him in how to seduce these girls. He gives instructions such as "make traces along her back with your fingers" and other touching, which is generally okay, but becomes problematic when the author, Vizzini, writes every single girl to positively respond to these actions -- as if these are the "keys to success" with girls, and that every girl will accept this behavior towards them.
The Squip, after an interaction with one girl says to Jeremy, "GOOD JOB. THAT'S THE WAY TO DO IT. NEVER EVER BE MEAN TO GIRLS, UNLESS THEY'RE UGLY. [...] SHE'LL TELL HER FRIENDS HOW GOOD YOU WERE AND WE CAN BUILD FROM THERE." (152)
*Forgive the capitalization; that is how the book is actually stylized.

There is also some lesson that the Squip gives him, instructing him that women and girls are attracted to pheromones. Once you get with a girl, other girls will come to you and want you. -- Again, this is terribly problematic, because it states that every girl will want to have sexual advances made towards her because of the boy's prolific history. Then the Squip gives this comment, "HOW DO YOU THINK GUYS WITH GIRLFRIENDS BECOME SO ATTRACTIVE TO OUTSIDE FEMALES THAT THEY'RE FORCED TO CHEAT WITH?" (155). Now, this is suggesting that there is justification in infidelity on the male's part because of females' "innate" attraction.
Jeremy himself makes a comment later in the book to his crush, who was heartbroken about being cheated on by her ex-boyfriend, "I reassure, 'We're all dicks, if you give us the chance. We're just guys. We react to threats and rewards.'" (219).

Another issue this book runs into is that though infidelity is dismissed when males commit it, girls are continuously and pervasively labeled "sluts" and "whores" and have every insult in the book thrown at them (by both girls and boys).
"Jenna went into her thing about, 'Elizabeth let four guys do her on the bus' and I had the balls to say to her what I've always wanted to say, deadpan: 'Shut up, Jenna. We know Elizabeth is like your Spider-Slut alterego or something.'" (171).
Every character in this book "slutshames" or shames girls for being sexually active or having multiple partners -- this is a serious matter.

Another thing to note is that Jeremy's love interest is not as sexually active as other girls, and is often described to be different than the other girls he meets whom he respects very little, once again, enforcing the hypocritical view of sexuality between the genders.

There are also other terrible things written:
(1) Some boys in the book capture pictures of girls in sexual acts and post them online without them knowing. Vizzini writes no voice of moral conscience explaining that this is wrong; instead, his characters revel at the "opportunity".
(2) A girl physically harms herself due to mental illness, but she is portrayed as a manic-pixie girl. The main character treats her with skepticism, and just says, "weird." (196)
(3) When the main character hesitates to be in a sexual situation or start a relationship, the character is continually accused of being homosexual by the Squip.

Also, the word "gay" is continually used as an insult, as a slur.

At the end of the novel, as you might expect, the boy sheds the chip/pill from his system and feels regretful of his actions. However, this isn't brought on by the realization of his terrible treatment of girls or his old friends, but by a freak accident that injures his new friends. And, he regrets the decision of taking the chip because his crush ultimately rejects him.
Thus, at the end of the novel, though the Squip is realized to be a bad and immoral influence on the main character, no comment is made whatsoever about his behavior with the female characters. Jeremy is just portrayed as a tragic hero.

Here is why all of this is very, very bad, and I seriously think this book should not be praised or even really published: Boys, aged 12 - 17, some of whom might be reclusive or have low self-esteem, and have some of the desires that the main character initially did, might pick up this book. As they read, they'll believe: "I have to dress this way. I have to talk this way. If I say this, girls will like me and smile at me. But I have to say just the right thing. And, I should only pay attention or be nice to girls who I'm interested in, forget the others. The way to ultimately get the girl I want is to touch them this way and manipulate them in this way. They'll totally fall for it. And I'll get what I want (sexual favors)." This perpetuates misogyny, and this way of thinking puts many girls in danger.

This is a very disgusting book.
Reconsidering another book by this author I once read, It's Kind of a Funny Story, I realize that the two female characters that were love interests, were also portrayed with this misogynistic attitude. I shelved the book as a "Favorite" because he truly spoke well about depression, but how wrong he is about other issues makes my stomach churn. I will be editing my review for that book with respect to my thoughts this evening.

Jessica

Ned is actually a good friend of mine - we briefly dated when I was a sophomore in college and we've remained friends (the book is dedicated in-part to me, in fact) - but I swear to God, I'd love Be More Chill even if I'd pulled it off a shelf.

I really can't put it down; it's refreshing to read a young adult novel that's a quick read, but still a thought-provoking, laugh-out-loud funny one. His writing is so readable and fluid and his characters could walk off the page and fit in at any high school in America. Why didn't they give us books like this to read in high school?

It's weird for me to read this book because the main character, Jeremy, I really think is based on Ned. Jeremy says things about himself that I have heard Ned Vizzini talk about or seen him do. Of course, the book is a little bit sci-fi, so heaps of it are made up, but this book is a quite memoir-eque fictional novel in that it seems to be how Ned has worked out his high school dorkiness and confusion and angst about not getting with girls.

Good job, Ned. Sorry it took me two/three years to finally read it.

Grace (BURTSBOOKS)

Be more chill is about high school junior, Jeremy Heere and how he, in his most fragile desperate teenage state, spent 600 dollars on a supercomputer called 'the SQUIP' that teaches him how to be cool…. or more appropriately chill.

This book is the most over exaggerated high school cliché popularity satire I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It was so overdramatic it was hilarious. The SQUIP was also a super interesting concept, and Jeremy’s social awkwardness was amusing to read about, and his feelings of anxiety were relatable as heck. Solid book, entertaining enough, my only complaint was it ended too abruptly, and I was expecting more. More character development, more meaning??? More consequences for Jeremy’s actions.

All and all, a good book, nothing to rave about but also nothing to rant about. So, I’m calling this a success.

Kelly (and the Book Boar)

Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

Let’s keep this one short and sweet. This was another book that was on my TBR for eternity. It got placed there due to my reaction to It’s Kind of a Funny Story. It finally made it to the currently reading stack (late, naturally) when I attempted to check out a copy for Young Adult Week. Good news is, I read it in a couple of hours. Bad news is, it was terrible. Lacking in character development and relying on the clichés that all boys are oversexed perverts who are lucky they haven’t gone blind despite their masturbatory tendencies and all girls are dumb sluts looking for validation from the nearest penis, it was clear I was pulling a Sergeant Murtaugh because I was most definitely “too old for this shit.” However, like so many things of late there’s a different version of this story that is pretty great . . . .



Maybe leave the book on the library shelves and track down your nearest community theater instead????

Regan

Not very impressed, sometimes being inside of a teenage boy's head is no fun at all.

Helena Miller

Wow. I cannot believe how much I wanted to like this book and how disappointed I was by how misogynistic it is! Misogynistic, by the way, technically means "hates women" and, while I don't think Ned Vizzini (or the protagonist, Jeremy) hates women, I think this book INCORRECTLY represents high school girls as complete idiots. He presents the idea that if a boy simply wears the right t-shirt and says two "correct" sentences then she will instantly become sexually and personally attracted to him. Really?!?!? REALLY?!?!? (Can you tell this book made me mad?!?) I really liked the premise of the book, and it seemed to be a fairly accurate portrayal of adolescence in many ways, but the way that girls are portrayed was just too flat, simple, demeaning and inaccurate for me to be able to recommend this book. Argh....

Erin

So here’s the premise: teenage boy is awkward, nerdy, uncool. He hears about a pill, a “squip,” that is a microcomputer that will give him instructions on how to be cool (or “more chill”). He gets a squip, becomes cool, and eventually the squip fails - its technology isn’t perfect yet.

You might have been thinking - wait, wait, as YAF shouldn’t this book have ended with the boy realizing he’s better off as himself, without the aid of a microcomputer telling him exactly what to say? No. No, that’s not the moral: the moral is wait to buy yourself the exact piece of technology that will make imperfect-you more perfect so that you might have money, friends, and sex.

And the sex part? Apparently young women lack self-esteem to such an extraordinary degree that not only do they cut themselves while purging while gossiping about their slutty ex-best-friend, but they are also willing and committed to having sex with any man who might be interested. The only exception to this rule the young woman that our hero is in love with - and it turns out she’s “weird,” and hence “frigid.”

This book shouldn’t be read by anyone, let alone a young adult trying to sort out how they might learn to be okay with their awkward weirdness, because the message? You’re not okay, and it’s not likely you’ll be okay unless you buy something really expensive and/or have sex with an self-loathing young woman. The book, as a result, both deeply disturbing and depressing. Maybe that’s how it is with kids these days? Nah. I think instead Vizzini might try being less chill, and instead he might try to be more responsible.

Erin

Jeremy Heere is a typical high school geek. Unable to socialize with other people, he instead chooses to analyze their reactions to him, tallying up insults and laughter on self-made Humiliation Sheets.

And he's damned tired of it.

All Jeremy wants is to be Cool. He wants to rub shoulders with the Hottest Girls in School. But most of all, he wants the attention of Christine, a girl in his drama club who won his heart over.

Jeremy doesn't think any of this is possible until he learns about the "squip." A supercomputer that is swallowed as a pill, the squip implants itself in the user's brain and gives that person instructions as to how to behave and how to reach their goals. Soon, Jeremy finds himself working out to become buff, socializing with people who used to make fun of him, and transitioning from geek to...Cool.

But Jeremy never pauses to consider the fact that he is handing control over his life to the squip. The consequences of this may not be what he bargained for.

This book was a laugh out loud funny approach to the social tug-of-war that is high school. Readers will want to slap Jeremy upside the head for some of his responses (or lack thereof - grow some stones, dude!), but Vizzini draws the book to an interesting - and unpredictable - end.

Emily

*This review contains mild spoilers*
Bleh.
Like many people, I picked this book up because I loved the musical. I listened to it recently and I wanted to learn more about the characters I loved: awkward Jeremy, passionate Christine, sweet Michael and so on.
This was the polar opposite.
If I had not known the musical was based on the book, all I would have remarked is the similar names and the similar description (Loser High Schooler takes supercomputer pill to make him cool), and NOTHING ELSE.
Things I liked:
I prefer the book squip to the musical squip.
Uhm... I... Yes, I do believe that that's it.
Things I hated:
This book treats women like disposable objects. I'M NOT EXAGGERATING.
When Jeremy first gets the squip, he makes out with this girl named Brooke. Even though it seems great at first, things go badly and Jeremy leaves.
BROOKE IS NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN.
This happens with a couple of other female characters. They are all treated like sex objects, including Christine, Jeremy's supposed love interest. She is a shallow self.
What is she interested in? Uh, theatre, I guess.
What's her personality like? Well, this one time, she was bossy, but that was forgotten again pretty quickly.
Other things? I guess....she doesn't like Jeremy. Or maybe she does. Who knows?
One dimensional characters really don't offer much depth.
Neither does Jeremy. Why does he take the pill? Uh...he wants to be cool, I guess.
Michael? He likes asian girls. He doesn't have human emotions. That's about that.
It's all boiled down to stereotypes. Some girls are sluts, some girls talk behind other people's backs, some girls are sexual objects to be filmed and posted online.
Some guys are bullies, others are just there, like Jake, to add conflict and make himself harmless when the plot demands it.
None of it has the relatable charm of More Than Survive, or the funny moments from Be More Chill (Part One), or the slow realization of Upgrade, the bone-crushing sadness of Michael In The Bathroom, the relatability of The Smartphone Hour (Rich Set A Fire) (lets be honest, we all know people like that), the creepy chill of The Pitiful Children and The Play, as well as the beautiful ending of Voices In My Head.
The book doesn't live up to the musical.
The book is disgusting.
And now, after this incoherent rant, I'm done with it.

Kim


Are you popular?


Well, are you? Because, like, there's this pill. Yeah, it'll make you act, look, seem, sound, make, break, buy, sell, find, invent, STINK of coolness. And... get this, you'll be able to touch boobies

Nawww, dawg! I ain't playin' ya! You won't need no frizzy black wig or alter ego! No beaded curtains or orange hair! ('cuse my Brady Bunch flashbacks... I'm showing my age, yo.)

You just swallow this pill and then you like get this really hip computer chip embedded in your brain that tells you how to act and what to say and argues with you until you are da bomb. But, wait... are you really? I mean... do you really want to be THAT guy? Is stealing your mom's car and almost losing your nerdy, but wicked awesome, bff worth it? Will it really get you the girl of your dreams or just that hot chick that will go down on anyone?

Who the fuck cares?

I was hoping that this would break that formula. I was hoping that the attempts of hipness would be, idk, groundbreaking. I didn't want a freakin' modern day after school special.

But, whatever.. I'm used to disappointment. If you want a slightly more original conspiracy based YA book about microchips, you might want to check out Feed.

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