Review 11: The Boyfriend App (Katie Sise)

 The Boyfriend App

Author: Katie Sise

Genre: Young Adult; Romance

Synopsis: In The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise, super-smart, somewhat geeky Audrey McCarthy can’t wait to get out of high school. Her father’s death and the transformation of her one-time BFF, Blake Dawkins, into her worst nightmare have her longing for the new start college will bring.

But college takes money. So Audrey decides she has to win the competition for the best app designed by a high schooler—and the $200,000 that comes with it. She develops something she calls the Boyfriend App, and suddenly she’s the talk of the school and getting kissed by the hottest boys around. But can the Boyfriend App bring Audrey true love? (Goodreads)


Note: One paragraph of this review will have a major spoiler, so I will put big red SPOILER ALERT text before and after that. I really have to discuss this part to articulate why I did not really like this book.

Okay, so this book. I remember when it first came out and I really wanted to read it. Techie main character, fun technology hijinks, good laughs, that’s what I expected. I definitely didn’t expect what happened in the latter half of the book. It’s hard to explain, but let’s just go with things got WEIRD. Really weird.

So what did I like about the book? Well, I loved the relationships that the main character, Audrey, forms with her friends and family. I liked the dynamic she had going with Mindy, Nigit, and Aidan. I especially loved her relationship with her cousin, Lindsay. It was just so cute how supportive she was of Audrey, and their bond with Claire. Seriously, warm and fuzzy feelings all over. Audrey’s relationship with her mum was also heart-warming, though I wish we had gotten more time for that family bond to be seen.

So what didn’t I like about it? Well, there’s the always present dramavalanche. Mean girl Blake’s actions and what was being said about her character just didn’t match up. There was how Audrey reacted to certain things, I felt she was being overly dramatic, and the descriptions just got very weird. It feels like everything after a certain point just goes over the top and into the realm of “Seriously? This is really happening?”

Overall: Two out of five stars, and I am very conflicted about it. It was funny and I liked the relationships, but it got too over-the-top and I had a problem with a huge plot point. Spoilers below.

And now, for the spoiler, please do not read beyond this point if you don’t want to be spoiled.


So, The Boyfriend App 2.0 essentially forces a boy to fall in love with the user. It makes use of Public’s sound technology and manipulates someone’s mind into wanting physical contact with the user. They wanted to kiss, touch, and I assume whatever else comes after, the person who used the app on them. The fact that the user is FORCING someone into these things doesn’t seem to be a problem for the people in the book. Which… Unsettles me. It unsettles me that no one in the book found it wrong that you can just manipulate someone else like that. “Hey, I like this person and I will have them regardless of what THEY feel or want, and I will use this app to do it!” I just can’t. No. Nope.



13 thoughts on “Review 11: The Boyfriend App (Katie Sise)

  1. I read this book a while ago, and I completely agree with what you said in the spoiler section! That annoyed me and it just was kind of illogical. Could an app really do that?

    Also, I too felt as if a lot of the book was dramatized, and the story went from being a regular contemporary to a whole new level of odd!

    Awesome review 🙂

  2. I know we discussed this before, but YUPPPP to everything in your spoiler section. For one, to me that just crossed from an unrealistic but fun contemporary to pretty much science fiction(the way the app worked & all), and of course, the whole non-consent issue was a big deal. . . and NONE of the characters cared! If they could have just noticed, EVENTUALLY, that maybe “Hey this is probably unethical and immoral and bad and we should stop”, I could be more on board with it. But nope.

  3. It annoyed me so much too! The book took such a nosedive after the middle of the book, and I was incredibly disappointed. 😦

    Thanks, Emily! 🙂

  4. Exactly! No one inside in the book had any troubles with it. “Oh, I’m being forced into loving this girl and she could just dump me anytime with a touch of a button? Okay!” or like “Sexual assault? Nope, I’m just making an app for falling in loooooove!” You’re right, if the book had gone a different way and it was clearly shown that NO, this is not right, it is a horrible thing to do to another human being, I might have liked the book more. Yet Audrey gets away with developing this dehumanising app.

    I think someone in the comments of your posts also brought up the fact that the publishers didn’t have a problem with this, or other reviewers for that matter. Another blogger, Briana, made a really good post about it and the implications of the app.

  5. I’ve been pretty vocal about my issues with this book, so I’m not sure what more I can comment on. Honestly, I was hoping that, if none of the characters had an issue with the app, someone more “official” would. When I saw the news releases that the app was being pulled from the website and would no longer be available for download, I had a moment of hope–until I realized it wasn’t being pulled for enabling sexual assault. I am so, so baffled by the ethics in this book.

    I think I was the one who commented on Stormy’s post about the publishers not seeing it as sexual assault either. That does worry me. On one level it’s concerning because it reveals there is a sizable group of people at HarperCollins who either don’t know what sexual assault is, or don’t care that they’re releasing a book that sheds a positive light on it. On another level, it’s worrisome to me personally. I’m pretty open on my blog about my interest in pursuing a career in publishing. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be an editorial assistant, at the bottom of the totem pole, and have to be the one to protest that a book that the publisher acquired (I think it was the actual publisher in this case, not even just an editor) is morally disgusting. Could I refuse to work on it? Would it cost me my job? Very difficult things to think about.

    (Of course, I’m having a lot of set-backs in getting a job in publishing. I’ve had a couple interviews but no job offers. Perhaps the fact that I’m going around the Internet accusing publishers of condoning rape is part of the explanation for that–but I think companies could use someone like me who would tell them, “No, this is not an acceptable book to publish. This is not what we want our publishing house to stand for.”)

  6. Yeah, it was pulled because of Audrey’s hacking/theft/what Blake said instead. It’s like they went “We are going to pull this app because of the unethical actions of the developer. What? Sexual assault? No, we can’t see that at all. She just stole stuff from someone else!”

    It makes me wonder what other books they have that slipped under this radar and have the same problems. I just read another book a few days ago that sheds a positive light on rape by making the reader sympathise with the rapist because of some magical fantasy mumbo jumbo (oh, and because he loooooves her apparently), and I just felt sick at the end of it. Why didn’t anyone see the problem with this?

    I can see the worries in the situation of being a new person or having a low position in the company and speaking out about it. Does this mean that we have to compromise our own morals and ethics to get ahead? However, you’re right. They need someone who can see things like this and go “Wait, this is not right.” I really hope you can get a job in publishing and be that person to identify the books that have such ethical problems.

  7. I completely agree with everything you said in your review! I was so disappointed by this book because people were raving about it. I even bought the expensive hardbound because it was the only one available in the bookstore. It was very pretty, but that’s all it had going for it. I definitely love Lindsay and Audrey’s friends, but the rest was just…whaaaat. Especially that second part.

  8. Thanks for the spoiler warning Ana. I already felt it was a book I wouldn’t read so I had no problem reading the spoiler and I have to admit I feel a bit repulsed by it. That’s just so wrong and makes me so uneasy. Especially if it’s portrayed in a light, no-big-deal way. It is a big deal and I bet if the book was called ‘The Girlfriend App’ this would have caused a lot more controversy. Urrgghh. Yes, def not going on my tbr list.

  9. Oh nooooo! I feel better that I borrowed this from the library instead of buying it. It does look SO pretty, but the content is just… Ugh. The first part was great, then the second part is just where everything went to shit. 😐

  10. No worries, Trish. I’m glad that this review was useful in showing someone the bad side of this book and to avoid it. Pretty much all the girls in the book are just like “This is so cool, haha! This app is awesome and I’m going to force a boy to love me! I see no unethical side of this, yay!” UGH! 😐 It is totally not okay. Some of the best (and by best I mean well-written) reviews for this book on Goodreads talk about this book in relation to rape culture, and agree with your point about how if it had been The Girlfriend App, everyone would be in an uproar. The mentality of “Haha, it’s fun and quirky because the app affects boys and not girls!” is just NOT okay. *shudders*

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