Book Review: The Make-Up Test by Jenny L. Howe

Now, if you have read any of the other reviews on my blog, you will probably notice that this is not at all the kind of book I usually read.

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Now, if you have read any of the other reviews on my blog, you will probably notice that this is not at all the kind of book I usually read. The story behind this is that my mom found this book for sale at Target, and wanted me to read it in order to have a taste of a lighter sort of story. A beach read, as she put it.

And so I did.

About the Book

Title: The Make-Up Test

Author: Jenny L. Howe

Published: 2017

Genre: romance

My Rating: 2 stars


The Premise

Synopsis (from Goodreads) (truncated):

“Allison Avery loves to win. After acing every academic challenge she’s come up against, she’s finally been accepted into her dream Ph.D. program at Claymore University, studying medieval literature under a professor she’s admired for years. Sure, grad school isn’t easy—the classes are intense, her best friend is drifting away, and her students would rather pull all-nighters than discuss The Knight’s Tale—but she’s got this. Until she discovers her ex-boyfriend has also been accepted. Colin Benjamin might be the only person who loves winning more than Allison does, and when they’re both assigned to TA for the same professor, the game is on.”


My Thoughts

Since this really isn’t my genre, I’m going to try not to be too mean about this book and review it for the entertainment value.

The Positives:

  • the characters were relatively distinctive
  • I liked how it was set in grad school and they were actually engaged in their academics besides the romance element
  • I liked how the main character, Allison, was passionate about her chosen field. We need more representation of women in fiction, heck, just *people* in fiction who actually like their career and/or school
  • it was interesting enough to hold my attention, mostly, and I did finish the whole thing. I’ll admit I felt motivated to find out whether Allison and Colin would make up at the end, even though it was of course a foregone conclusion

The Negatives:

  • the writing was bad. I’m sorry, it was just bad. Not only does Colin “growl” during a, uh, sPiCy scene, the novel is entirely full of really weird metaphors that just don’t go. I guess she was going for descriptive, colorful writing, but it did not work.
    Ex: “An unfamiliar heart drilled at a ribcage that wasn’t Allison’s”

    “She was a library, full of stories and words and definitions. And her brain was a seamstress, with finger’s as agile as Sophie’s, stitching them all together into new designs and formations.”

    “He was tall and lanky and full of sharp angles like a triangle”

    …I think you get the picture.
  • it was also trying so hard to be “woke” that I nearly died from how cringey and forced it was.

    E.g.: “Sophie… always imagined her designs on plus-sized bodies. As a fat woman herself, she understood the struggle to find comfortable, stylish clothes in the world they lived in…. her ultimate goal was to team up with disabled, genderqueer, and trans designers to create a totally inclusive line of clothing.”

    “‘My girls,’ Wendy said, nodding to the image. ‘Gwen and Dave.’ She pointed to the tuxedo cat.
    Allison laughed. ‘Dave?’
    … ‘It was the name the sheter gave her, and I love the message it sends. Names are a construct just like gender is.’

  • Allison mentions how she’s “plus-sized” almost every page and how she isn’t ashamed of her body and, yeah, I mean good for “body positivity”/”neutrality “– but then the author constantly body-shamed Colin for being skinny and “spindly” and knobbly-kneed and shaped like a triangle.
  • Allison and Colin get together again in a really instalove way
  • Finally, the ending was cheesy– but maybe that’s a pro

Have you read The Make-Up Test? What did you think of it? Feel free to let me know in the comments!

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