Monday, August 10, 2009

Book Review: Psych Major Syndrome

Psych Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson. (Grades 9+)
Disney Hyperion. August 11, 2009.
Full disclosure: Reviewed from ARC obtained at ALA.

Leigh's got a lot to deal with during her first semester at a tiny California college. There's Andrew, her high school boyfriend who doesn't seem to want to try to get into her pants (not that Leigh necessarily wants him to, but they've been going out for over a year, shouldn't he at least be TRYING?). Plus, Andrew's roommate Nathan has a huge stick up his butt and seems to hate her for no real reason. Then there's the Psych 101 term paper that she hasn't even picked a topic for yet (ehh, she'll whip something up at the last minute, she's sure). And the mentoring program that she's volunteered for, but every time she opens her mouth, she seems to be saying all the wrong things. What Leigh needs to do is stop psycho-analyzing everyone and start taking a good look at her own life. But that's so hard to do when you have Psych Major Syndrome.

Okay, here's what I liked about the book:

I think it realistically deals with the tumultuous journey that some (all? most?) girls go through when starting college. It's a confusing time. There's a lot to deal with - making new friends, figuring out What You Want To Do With Your Life, juggling a boyfriend with your class schedule and friends, having a roommate for (possibly) the first time. Leigh's trying to get it all figured out and she's also trying to figure out her relationship with her high school boyfriend Andrew. They both went to the same school and supposedly love each other... so why doesn't she feel happier about being with him?

I liked the romance, although we all knew where it was going from the very beginning. And it could have been in that wonderful way except that it kind of took a long time to get there. I do have to say that I totally have a crush on Nathan, though. If only he was ten years older and, y'know, real...

I also liked the psychology aspects of it, but I was a psych major in college (which is why I picked up this book in the first place!). It's an interesting perspective and a little something different.

I had some problems with the book. Mainly, I didn't really care for Leigh. Sometimes when I don't care for a protagonist I can chalk it up to that protagonist being realistically drawn. After all, we all do things that are mean or hurtful or careless sometimes. We all whine periodically and make mistakes. But I guess I had a hard time feeling sympathy for Leigh. Which made it hard to care whether she actually figured out her life.

The other thing was that the secondary characters all seemed a little flat. They had such potential - Leigh's artsy roommate Ami (with whom she's instantly best friends and never seems to have any issues... hmm..), her quirky psychic parents, even Nathan... Such interesting characters, but when I looked back they were all a bit underdeveloped.

So, I liked the book okay. It's a solid debut that deals realistically with a situation (starting college) in which many girls find themselves. I wouldn't hesitate to hand it to a teen who's starting to think about college (especially one taking psych). I think the title's intriguing enough to pique teens' interest (though I don't really have any love for the cover). I'll definitely keep my eye on Alicia Thompson.

Intrigued? Book Divas is giving away two signed copies (deadline August 14). Read more reviews at Books By Their Cover and Kidliterate.