Review: The Manifesto on How to be Interesting by Holly Bourne

22533460Edition: Paperback – Borrowed
Published by: Usbourne, 1st August 2014
Genre: Contemporary, Health, Realistic Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Rating: 3 stars
Completed: 29th October 2015

Apparently I’m boring. A nobody. But that’s all about to change. Because I am starting a project. Here. Now. For myself. And if you want to come along for the ride then you’re very welcome.

Bree is a loser, a wannabe author who hides behind words. Most of the time she hates her life, her school, her never-there parents. So she writes.

But when she’s told she needs to start living a life worth writing about, The Manifesto on How to Be Interesting is born. Six steps on how to be interesting. Six steps that will see her infiltrate the popular set, fall in love with someone forbidden and make the biggest mistake of her life.

It’s been a while since I’ve read this, so I’m going to try and sum up my thoughts on it.

The Manifesto on How to be Interesting is about seventeen year old Bree who wants to become an author but is rejected several times for her novel. At school, she only has one close friend, Holdo, in which they hang out and watch films. She knows that she is a good writer and doesn’t understand why she keeps getting rejected by publishers, so goes to her teacher whom she has a big crush on for advice. He tells her that her novel needs to be ‘interesting.’ As a result decides take matters in her own hands and decides to create an experiment on how to become more popular, thus the book title is the name of her blog.

Bree thinks she will become more ‘interesting’ if she is part of the popular clique. She irked me. She was all right in begin with, but this experiment turns her into a completely arrogant, mean and unlikeable character. She feels bad about it and hates herself for it if it’s any consolidation. She ditches her best friend Holdo, which was sad to become one of the plastic airheads, like in Mean Girls. It’s often said you should always be yourself. Bree isn’t being herself and its quite clear that she becomes unhappy in the end. She sacrificed a lot for this experiment and I think she questions whether it is all worth it. She was quite a feminist at the beginning of the book but she sort of loses her dignity on what she planned to do. Hugo is such a creep. Really Bree. I thought she’d be smarter than that.

A lot of contemporaries I usually pick up are often set in America, so it was quite refreshing to read a book that’s set in England, because British tone was familiar and the schooling system such as Secondary School, Sixth Form and UCAS. I liked the writing style, as it was really good, it’s easy to read and does feel like it’s written by a seventeen year old. Despite how cringey and fake it felt based on some of the dialogue, I admit it was kind of interesting to read about how Bree was working undercover. The story went through a darker route with the self-harm issue, which I think was tackled well.

I really liked the relationship between Bree and her mum, I thought it was really nice to see them bonding. Before, Bree just chose to not talk to her mum at all because she wasn’t dressing or wearing makeup, like all the other girls were, but it turns out that her mum loves Bree for who she is.

This book was a mess because there was so much drama. Honestly it was as if I was watching an episode of BBC’s Waterloo Road. This is literally Mean Girls meets Waterloo Road or Grange Hill!

As for the romance aspect, I was expecting Bree to find a nice boy, someone her own age to show her she doesn’t need to be someone she’s not, but it turns out the love interest is a freakin’ teacher! I don’t like student-teacher relationships. They are wrong on all levels and it’s not in any way romantic. I already know this is going downhill. It seems like the teacher (forgot his name) became interested in Bree because of her makeover, I don’t know, but they had other things in common like books and writing.

The ending was a bit too convenient. Everything just fell into place. It didn’t feel realistic to me. It seems that as long as your rich, all your problems will be solved and you’ll get your revenge. What if Bree’s parent’s wasn’t rich, what would have happened? I don’t think things would have ended the way they did.

“Being interesting isn’t important. But being happy is. As well as being a person you’re proud of.”

This is by no means a bad book. A lot of readers seemed to love it. There were parts I liked and parts I didn’t. Overall I felt like the story was about the struggles of identity and where you belong because Bree is at that age where there’s a lot of peer pressure to be liked, wear the right trendy clothes or to be good-looking, but at the same time it’s important to stay level headed and be happy with who you are. Being happy is one of the most important things in life, in my opinion.

Moral of the story: being popular does not mean you are interesting.



4 thoughts on “Review: The Manifesto on How to be Interesting by Holly Bourne

  1. Nice review, Thuong! Whoa, this does sound really similar to Mean Girls. I feel like those movies are teenage classics but to read them? Not really my cup of tea. That’s why I’ve put off reading books like the former, Easy A, and The DUFF. I think I’m finally growing out of contemporaries that are based off of just high school themes. There needs to be an extra oomph (mental illnesses, LGBTQ+ themes, diversity, death, etc) before I add it my TBR now. But I did get an ARC of The New Guy and Other Senior Year Distractions, and I want to read Firsts, which is sort of like Easy A, I think. Haha. XD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Summer! Not my cup of tea either but the raving reviews esp. from Emma Blackery made me think it would be a good read but got a Mean Girls vibe from it. There were too much stereotypes. The popular girls ‘airheads’ sounded fake and not real. Yeah it just gets really repetitive! Absolutely agree with you there – definitely needs something like you mention to make it different. Hope you enjoy your new Arcs! I vaguely came across Firsts, I think it sounds interesting.


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