Author: Vicki Grant
Thanks to NetGalley and Running Press for letting me receive this book before its official release date.
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.
So first off, I'm going to say that if you're stuck in a bubble of deep young adult reads, this one won't be for you. Of course, the characters struggle with problems, but you don't really get to feel their angst, not like with other novels. This one focuses on the sweetness and it's very light. The writing is very unique, so if you're up for a change, then maybe 36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You could actually be a book of your taste.
Granted, I was confused by the way the story started and how the conversations between Hildy and Paul went - conversation style, like theatre plays and Shakespeare tales. But then I grew to like it and looked forward to these chapters instead of when Hildy met with her friends and the writing got back to the usual style. I wasn't interested in reading about her friends, I wanted more of her and Paul. Maybe I'm being mean here, because of course characters have got to have friends and stuff, but their conversations weren't interesting to me in the least. They went on about a topic for pages and pages and yeah, some lines were pretty funny, but the story was all about Hildy and Paul's romance for me.
Paul is a real douche in the beginning. He seems like this typical skater loner dude that's too cool for anyone, but as always, there's more to him than meets the eye and the same goes for Hildy. Right from the start, you know that her family situation isn't the best and appearance is all about the right acting. I didn't understand some things Hildy mentioned in conversations and you'll probably feel the same way, because everything is only revealed at the end, which is a great trick to keep the reader curious and read until the end. Paul's situation is a bit more predictable, he may not speak as much as Hildy but he's like an open book to the reader. You can figure his life situation out, it's not that hard. But maybe that's what's so interesting - beyond the fact that he's a man of few words, he saying so much without even trying to say something between the lines. No clue if the author striked for that, but I'm sure amazed by it, thinking about it just now.
The story itself is very unusual. I mean, two strangers meeting for an experiment in exchange for money (which is Paul's only motivation, really). They have to ask each other these 36 questions that have been given to them and their only task is to answer honestly. Fascinating how many secrets you actually tell a stranger, I think. Well, that goes for Hildy. As mentioned before, Paul's pretty tongue-tied and a douche. Luckily, that changes - he's got 36 questions in order for that to happen. How does anyone even come up with 36 questions? That's a lot. And sometimes, I got the feeling they kind of reappeared in a different shape. But that's okay. And truth be told, I liked the answers the author came up with for her characters. Questions make the characters seem more real. I liked that.
Truth be told, if I was a guy, I'd be annoyed by Hildy. Hell, I was annoyed by her half the time reading 36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You. She's blabbering and blabbering, whew. I felt like putting down the book from time to time, only to release a breath and calm down a bit. She's a true piece of art. And I think Paul's her perfect opposite. And that's exactly why I enjoyed this book despite my fear of hating it in the beginning - it's sweet and light and the chemistry between the two characters is beyond cute. They're good for each other, Paul turning out to be something I would have never expected and Hildy being less annoying, too. Oh, and also I'm very glad it will be translated into that many languages. I can't wait to find some German readers to talk about this one.