My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth
In this contemporary YA romance set in an elite high school with an amazingly funded robotics team, Bel is a senior transfer student and Mateo is the robot team captain unbelievably wealthy due to a tech bro father.
I can’t tell you more about Bel with out diluting some of the mystery at the start of the book about why she transferred, and why she’s conflicted about showing her building skills, etc., which drove me along in the first third of the book curious about her motivations for being so closed off and hesitant to show her skills, but suffice to say it both Bel and Mateo have daddy issues 🙂
There is some awkwardness in the writing, and at first Bel is super-frustratingly passive and Mateo super-frustratingly entitled. However, in the end, the slow building up of Bel’s confidence and the slow unraveling of a portion of Mateo’s privilege is worth following a frustrating journey.
Most of the action revolves around the building of competition robots, and it was super-fun to read the programming, engineering, and weapons strategy conversations, and follow along with the battle scenes. Super nerdy.
But I wouldn’t have given the book a 5 star review without major emotional work amongst the characters, and here the nuances of relationships really shines. Bel has a nemesis who is also a girl engineer, Neelam, and navigating that contentious relationship also gets weight, and the ways in which Bel navigates relationships with her mother/father and brothers also was interesting. (ode to a middle child!)
Also enjoyed the hodge-podge culture of the west coast– for instance how Mateo’s friend constantly wants samosas and how many of the characters come from mixed heritage or third culture backgrounds.
This is a YA romance, and its fairly sweet with kissing being mostly what goes on with only allusion s to possibly more when Bel/Mateo think no one’s home at Mateo’s home.