Title: Prom Theory
Author: Ann LaBar
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: March 30th, 2021
In this heartwarming and whip-smart YA spin on The Rosie Project, a teen girl is determined to prove that love, like all things, should be scientifically quantified…right?
Iris Oxtabee has managed to navigate the tricky world of unspoken social interactions by reading everything from neuroscience journals to Wikipedia articles. Science has helped her fit the puzzle pieces into an understandable whole, and she’s sure there’s nothing it can’t explain. Love, for example, is just chemistry.
Her best friend Seth, however, believes love is one of life’s beautiful and chaotic mysteries, without need for explanation. Iris isn’t one to back down from a challenge; she’s determined to prove love is really nothing more than hormones and external stimuli. After all, science has allowed humanity to understand more complex mysteries than that, and Iris excels at science.
The perfect way to test her theory? Get the popular and newly-single Theo Grant, who doesn’t even know Iris exists, to ask her to prom. With prom just two weeks away, Iris doesn’t have any time to waste, so she turns her keen empirical talents and laser-focus attention to testing her theory.
But will proving herself correct cause her friendship with Seth—and the tantalizing possibility for something more—to become the failed experiment?
Prom Theory is about Iris, a high school junior who has two best friends, Esther and Seth (Squeak). Iris has NLVD, and has difficulty reading social situations and is very interested in learning facts. She decides she can make the most popular boy in school ask her to Prom if she just conducts scientific experiments designed to attract his attention and prove that love is nothing more than a scientific process. But through her experiments, she might just end up hurting her friends and creating more of a mess.
I did find this book to be enjoyable, however I had a few concerns with it. First off, I found the depiction of NLVD to be good (speaking as someone who is neurotypical, so I’m no expert). However the author’s bio indicates she has experience so I’m trusting her knowledge. Iris’s ‘wiki-mode’ moments were very interesting, if a bit scientific for the target audience? It helped to underscore her presentation of NLVD but it was a bit much at times. I like the two friends Iris has, but I feel they could have done a better job of helping her realize this experiment was a bad idea. They kind of enabled the behavior and then got mad at it afterwards.
This book is pretty cliche, it’s definitely YA and has a high school level maturity. The prom scene was hard to read for me, as I imagine it would be for anyone who has experience with being treated badly for being “different” from the average for any reason. I respect Iris’s growth through the book and the idea that she was learning the emotional side of being human instead of just analytical.
Overall, this was a good book if you’re looking for a high school romance with a diversity rep for the main character.
Thank you to Simon Pulse and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.
Happy reading, folks!