With its bold cover and beautiful design, The Manifesto on How to Be Interesting screamed 'buy me' in book shops. So that's exactly what I did. Hope you enjoy!
Bree is a loser, a wannabe author who hides behind words. 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.
The concept was another reason decided to read. Because of my odd and typically teenage attitude recently, I've felt a little lost in the world where socializing, looking good and doing things outside of school to be accepted are important. Often I question whether I'm interesting enough, and feel a bit lonely. Seeing an author fathom this creation shows she recognizes those feelings, which made me feel better. Right away I thought things would go wrong, but as Bree transformed herself, I couldn't help smile for her. It's something I've imagined doing many times, reinventing myself. I also often think if I did more interesting things, I'd have more to write about, so this was a concept and plot line I could partly relate to. It was a welcome, refreshing read that I enjoyed immensely.
Bree’s narration was an interesting one. She could perhaps be called unreliable - but I also felt sad for and disliked her in equal measure because she felt the need to change herself - even though I relate. Although she lives in luxury, has a great best friend in the form of Holdo at the beginning, and seems to live comfortably, Bree's insecure. The self-harm references throughout showed this. Especially at the start, she gave the impression of a spoilt rich kid who’s dissatisfied with her life, blaming her parents. However I warmed to Bree as the book progressed. Some of the stuff she goes through with Holly Bourne’s silky yet raw writing had me crying because of the memories it brought up. I think this shows how good it was.
I read somewhere that the writer’s ultimate goal is to emotionally affect the reader, and that’s exactly what Bourne did. Applause for making me feel things, Holly.
Another strong point was Holdo. He was excellent, even though Bree promptly abandons him. It’s like he was waiting in the shadows or behind a stage curtain, waiting for his dramatic entrance, and that’s exactly what happens. Their friendship is so strong, despite them spending the majority of the book separated. Each character was recognizable, as I think Hugo and Jassmine are well known breeds of human all over the place. Maybe it was the names, but the ‘perfect posse’ as they’re known, reminded me of Made in Chelsea characters. Mostly unlikeable twats, sometimes human. I guess that’s the way to describe them.
On a more negative side, I did question Mr Fellows’ relationship with Bree. I won’t go into detail for fear of spoilers, but it’s not the conventional student-teacher one. While I found it plausible, at times it got a little melodramatic and the believably wavered. It was clear Bourne did her research but I wanted to cringe at certain parts, especially when Bree uses his first name. Some scenes were beautiful, like in the art gallery, which Bree returns to twice in the novel, but there were a few metaphorical bumps here and there in this aspect of Manifesto.
My second slight criticism I think would depend on my mood. If I was feeling self-indulgent and going through a ‘adoring fluffy books’ phase - I probably would have loved the ending. I mean, I did love it. It was heart-warming and touching and brilliant, but there was a tiny cynical part of my mind that went ‘that’s convenient.’ I was happy for Bree, even though the ending’s not perfect and she does experience her fair share of trauma, and again it was plausible. Maybe just a little unrealistic. I’m not sure. I think that one's down to personal opinion; I doubt there’s a unanimous answer.
In summary: The Manifesto On How To Be Interesting is the perfect book for anyone feeling a little lost, and came along just at the right time. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes teary, sometimes cringe-y. Overall however, a largely enjoyable and uplifting tale. 4.5 stars.