A bookish Star Trek fan, stung by a summer liaison, meets an attractive computer whiz during a search for a boyfriend who won’t break her heart in this YA novel.
On the first day of her junior year in high school, Vivian “Viv” Galdi feels nervous and excited, having spent her summer indulging in secret make-out sessions with Jake Fontaine, the sexy surfer classmate on whom she’s had a longtime crush. Arriving at school with her artsy best friend, Jaz, however, Viv soon experiences a letdown: Jake ignores her and flirts with a beautiful “dreadhead.” Also catching the friends’ interest is the arrival of a new classmate, a Clark Kent–looking Vespa rider whom they dub a “totally hot McNerd.” Jake soon lets Viv know that she was just a summer fling, a rejection that leads her to find a “replacement crush” with whom she’ll feel no “zing.” Viv, Jaz, and another pal, Amy, map out possibilities in a journal, but it’s difficult to stick to the plan, especially when the appealing McNerd turns out to be the computer expert named Dallas that Viv’s bookstore owner and mystery author mother has hired to help her daughter with database and inventory work at the shop. By novel’s end, Viv, whose many shared interests with Dallas include a love of Star Trek, sheds aspirations of Spock-like rationality and puts her heart on the line in a posting on her romance novel blog. She also enlists a visiting pop star to help make her case at her California seaside town’s talent show and homeless shelter fundraiser. Roberts (Playing the Player, 2015) has written another smart, charming teen romance, this one featuring plenty of amusing commentary on the genre itself, including Viv and Dallas riffing on romance hero categories. While the conclusion of this novel isn’t hard to predict (as Jaz herself snarkily comments several times in the narrative), Roberts puts a lot of well-woven side details into this journey. These threads include chronicling Viv’s connection with the local homeless contingent and having the dreadhead and another surfer character rise surprisingly above stereotype.
An entertaining, nicely nuanced depiction of teen relationships and challenges.