What starts as a geek-girl romantic comedy turns into an implausible techno-thriller.
When Public, an Apple-like tech giant responsible for social networking site Public Party and the omnipresent buyPhone, announces an app-building contest for high school students, computer-savvy Audrey creates the Boyfriend App to match users with potential dates. After the app successfully pairs her fashion-blogger cousin Lindsay with Audrey’s fellow geek Nigit, Lindsay promotes it via Twitter to her audience of thousands. (Luckily for Lindsay, ostensibly religious Nigit doesn’t seem to mind when she treats Hindu deities as fashion inspiration). After a brief setback, Audrey discovers a hidden functionality in buyPhones that turns the app into a high-tech love potion: Press a button and point it at a boy and he adores you. (Female users can also point it at a girl, but the only student to do this is a highly stereotyped exchange student whose kiss is portrayed as humiliating.) Public’s reaction to Audrey’s hacking their phones is suspenseful and engaging, but there are plot holes aplenty. Why does no one else question how the app works? How can every student afford a buyPhone? More disturbing, the ethical implications of users “apping” boys into kissing them are left almost completely unaddressed.
Ultimately, too hard to swallow, with too many unanswered questions. (Fiction. 13-16)