Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Review - Psych Major Syndrome / Alicia Thompson

Patient Name: Leigh Nolan

Age: 18 years

Presenting Concerns:

Leigh Nolan has just started her first year at Stiles College. She has decided to major in psychology (even though her parents would rather she study Tarot cards than Rorschach blots), despite reporting that she thinks, "Psychology is a load of crap."

Patient has always been very good at helping her friends with their problems, but when it comes to solving her own...not so much.

Patient has a tendency to over analyze things, particularly when the opposite sex is involved. Like why doesn't Andrew, her boyfriend of over a year, ever invite her to spend the night? Or why can't she commit to taking the next step in their relationship? And why does his roommate Nathan dislike her so much? More importantly, why did Nathan have a starring role in a much-more-than-friendly dream?

Aggravating factors include hyper-competitive fellow psych majors, a professor who's badly in need of her own psychoanalysis, and mentoring a middle-school-aged girl who thinks Patient is, in a word, nave.

Preliminary treatment will include Introduction to Psychology, but may require more if she's going to answer these questions and make it through her freshman year.


Psych Major Syndrome

Review - Contemporary YA romance seems to be my kind of beast at the moment and Psych Major Syndrome fits the bill very nicely. Featuring a completely neurotic (and very relatable) protagonist, Thompson's debut is a fun, smart and enjoyable adventure into being your best when you can only see the worst.

The pop culture references tickled my funny bone, everything from 80's teen flicks to Gwen Stefani are covered. Usually I find these kind of references to be clunky or a little try hard but in this case, it suited the lunacy that Leigh tended to display. She's an oddball in that she's overly analytical - she could in fact be a member of my family. Her ultra awareness of herself makes her completely blind to those around her. The progression from obliviousness to awakening is nicely done. It was refreshing to read an average girl who realises she over analyses and has a tendency to be judgemental. Leigh's self awareness is an element of this novel that you can really respond to.

The story isn't necessarily all that deep but I liked it because of that. Not all YA titles need to contain hit-you-over-the-head sociological themes. There are issues covered here in a nicely understated way that felt authentic from losing one's virginity, holding onto what's safe and known and being judgemental. The mentorship storyline was nicely done, the conversations realistic and humour integrated naturally.

The ending, while somewhat predictable, needed to be stretched out a little more. It felt abrupt and took away from the seamless pace that Thompson has established up until that point. This novel made me feel warm and gooey. If I wasn't such a cynic I would have been sighing. The boy is almost too perfect but the reader will be willing to forgo that as the protagonist has enough quirks to populate a Wes Anderson film.

An enjoying insight into the mind of an over analytical, everyday, college girl.

Published: August 11, 2009
Format: Hardback, 330 pages
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Source: purchased
Origin: USA


Diana Dang said...

Thanks for your review! It sounds like a delightful read! :D

Robby said...

Must. Read. This. Book.