All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Right Girl by Ellie O’Neill

on February 5, 2018

The Right Girl
Ellie O’Neill
Simon & Schuster AUS
2018, 393p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

What do you do when your perfect life . . . isn’t?

Freya has the best life – she’s officially in love and her floristry business, Blooming Brilliant, is going from strength to strength.

Two years ago, it was a different story. She was barely employed as the worst waitress in the world, with no hope of a boyfriend, and no bank balance. But then she got BBest, a lifestyle app that knows you better than you know yourself. It changed everything. It streamlined her life, taking her likes and dislikes and skills and foibles, and gave her the best options so she doesn’t make mistakes anymore. Freya has never looked back – and neither has anyone else. Everyone loves BBest, it’s a game changer.

But if she’s so in love, why doesn’t it feel exactly right? And who is that mysterious man in her beloved grandfather’s bookshop with soulful eyes that leave her unstitched? All of a sudden Freya has so many questions – and no one seems to be able to answer them. She begins to wonder what she really agreed to when she let BBest into her life. Then her grandfather is arrested, and Freya is thrust into a world she could never have imagined in her shiny, successful existence.

When you have the perfect life, should you listen to your head or your heart?

I found this a super enjoyable, fun and light-hearted story but also with a serious undertone.

In Freya’s world, everyone has come to rely on the app BBest. It basically takes control of your life and makes decisions for you. Don’t know what you want as a career? Answer a few questions and it’ll tell you. It’ll suggest what to wear, what to eat, if you want a coffee or not and soon begins to link up with financial institutions and dating apps. If you’re applying for a loan at the bank and it sees that you adopt all of BBest’s choices for you, that reflects well.

For Freya, BBest is everything. She loves it. She consults it for everything and is always a first choice adopter. With her boyfriend Mason comes a 93% approval rating, practically unheard of. Everything should be perfect. After all, BBest knows her better than she even knows herself. But if it’s doing such a good job organising her life and making choices for her, then why doesn’t Freya ‘feel it’ with Mason? He doesn’t make her heart sing, she doesn’t get those little flutters when she thinks about it, or when she spots him in the distance. Perhaps that is teenage infatuation and BBest has mapped out the very best future for her. But if that’s true, Freya doesn’t feel very enthusiastic about its choice, which is confusing for her. BBest has helped her out in so many other aspects. When Freya meets a man at her grandfather’s bookshop/library hybrid, she wonders just why he gives her the feelings Mason doesn’t.

I liked Freya and I can relate to her not knowing what she wants to do with her life. In some parts of my life I can be very indecisive and a push in a direction, any direction, could be very comforting about things I’m not sure about. I honestly can’t see myself giving up almost every decision to an app like Freya does but the scary thing is, I can see how an app of this might get its roots. It’s quick and convenient, like asking Siri a question. And the answer is instantaneous. All those pesky decisions we agonised over are resolved in a moment.

But as much as Freya trusts BBest to make the best choices for her, she realises that her grandfather, a bit of a Luddite who shuns a lot of this modern technology, has been right. An app can’t make you feel and although Mason might be her best match on paper, he doesn’t seem to be her heart’s desire. It should be a straightforward situation – but BBest’s entangling of many facets of life, maybe all facets of life means that it’s not. And Freya’s torn about what to do. And for this, she’s on her own because she can’t do what she’d usually do and consult BBest! And several of her friends work for the company and its so ingrained in culture that even talking to people in a reasonable way about its decisions and how they may not be for the best, is difficult. Not to mention it becomes quite apparent that there are…consequences for not adopting BBest’s choices and recommendations.

People have agonised over the sensible choice vs the heart-fluttery unknown for ages, that’s nothing new. The app is a modern day complication to freedom of choice with negative impacts that are not currently in play in ‘real life’ but it isn’t too hard to stretch the imagination really to these kinds of information gathering lifestyle apps filtering and selling that information on to interested parties – such as banks, housing companies, employment or recruiting organisations, etc. We already give away so much information – facebook records things we look at and offers us ads it thinks is tailor made to our interests, amazon records what we buy, how fast we read books and suggests similar titles. There are dating apps that rank your matches on compatibility already. Fitbits record our exercise and sleep, gently reminding us when we haven’t moved enough and praising us when we meet targets. All those things combined and a few more creative steps and BBest isn’t such a stretch of the imagination.

I enjoyed this a lot. I really liked the characters of Freya and her grandfather and their relationship. His bookshop/library thing sounds like a dream! I probably have enough books to start one of my own to be honest. I thought the exploration into giving up choices was quite well done – it was light hearted in manner but with enough serious undertones that the reader could really ponder the consequences of such a thing like BBest and perhaps apply it to their own lives, what impact such a thing might have. The story is a little bit quirky, a little bit fun which keeps the pages turning but that doesn’t detract from the overall message.


Book #22 of 2018







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