Yes, you did read that post title correctly. No, really, I’m not under the influence.
That’s a book title.
Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend is a 2016 YA novel by Alan Cumyn. Of course, with a title like that, how could I not be intrigued? As well, it did receive a starred review on one of the websites that I frequent for book news. So of course I ordered it from one of the libraries, and started reading it the second it got into my hands because with a blurb like this, who could resist?
Everything changes for a teenaged girl with a perfectly controlled life when she falls for the hot new first-ever interspecies transfer student, a pterodactyl named Pyke.
Yo. What? I shared this with a friend, and we had some feelings.
I have to be straight up, guys, I cannot honestly write about this book without spoilers. So if you want to be surprised and read this yourself, go ahead. But SPOILER ALERT, because I basically reveal the whole ending.
Basically, this spoof book is about a teenager named Shiels (because her name is Sheila and full names are so not cool) who is student body chair and is very in control of everything around her. It seems as though she practically runs the school. She has a boyfriend, rich doctor parents, and is getting ready to apply to colleges. She’s on the right track! Until Pyke the Pterodactyl flies into her life. She thinks people will make fun of the interspecies student, who can barely speak English, because he’s a pterodactly who speaks Pterodactus, so she takes it upon herself to welcome him and rally the school to be supportive. Well, Pyke doesn’t need help. On his second day, he already has a girlfriend, and shortly after, is frontman of the school’s hottest band. Obviously, Shiels thinks he’s super hot, so things get funny when she wakes up after a raging party with a purple nose – the sign that she’s been marked by Pyke. Quickly, her life begins to fall out of place when the girl who used to be in control of everything becomes an unpopular outsider, and Pyke gets arrested, because prehistoric beasts can definitely do jail time. Can Shiels take back control? Should she? What happens to Pyke? So many questions, so little time, as the reader heads to the conclusion of the book.
Let’s start with the good:
- It’s an absurdist spoof on books like Twilight
- It has a colorful cover
- The book ends with Shiels being BA and totally walking away without needing any boyfriend. That’s right, you show them! Be an independent woman!
- The book does touch upon subjects you would actually see in YA novels, such as teens dealing with relationships, learning about sexuality, and trying to find out who they want to be when they grow up* (*when they go to college, which is not, by any means, grown up. Ah, to be young).
And here’s the bad:
- It is literally about a “hot” pterodactyl who comes to school as a new interspecies transfer student and for some reason all of the girls think he’s hot.
- Even the MOMS think he’s hot. #HAWKWARD.
- The author may have lost the spoof feeling and definitely got a little too serious about writing this book.
- The writing style was hard to follow at times. More on that later.
- Pterodactyl sex.
As I said, the book is a rip on books such as Twilight and whatever else falls into the hotly debated genre of “paranormal romance”, except instead of sparkly ancient demons, a hot, purple, furry, muscular prehistoric being is the object of lust. This could have been great. Could have been. At a certain point in the book, I was really ready for it to be done. Probably about 250 pages in or so. But the book kept going. Things spiraled out of control.
At a certain point, I imagined Alan Cumyn screlting “Let It Go” as he furiously pounded on the keyboard and just let a hailstorm of pterodactyl sex doom spill from his fingers as he refused to control himself anymore.
The book just wasn’t campy enough to be a spoof. It got too serious and too absurd, all at the same time. Instead of Shiels’s lack of control and insane Type A compulsions being a parody of those “got it all together” types we often see in YA novels, she just became irritating. The best thing Cumyn did for Shiels was when she stopped going to school and started to work at a running store. She learned so much about herself through doing something for someone else. Being a rip on YA books, it was silly that she skipped school to work in a running shoe store, but of course no one cared or thought it was odd. As well, it was the only time the character changed and developed AT ALL. Even in a spoof, characters have to grow.
Further, the text was supposed to be written to follow Shiels’s thoughts and stream of consciousness, but I think it read like a disjointed diary where half of the phrases were whited out. Rather than a jumpy, fast paced, questioning thought process that we can sometimes see in teens and our own minds, the sentences felt incomplete.
I know you’re probably wondering about the pterodactyl sex that I have mentioned but haven’t gotten to yet. People actually wanted to have intercourse with a flying reptile? If Pyke liked a girl, he rubbed on them a little bit and then their noses turned purple, almost like his own beak. So of course, when Shiels’s nose turned purple, her boyfriend broke up with her immediately. Unfortunately for Shiels, another girl already had a purple nose. Scandal. Even worse, when Pyke was let out of jail on bail (long story short he played on the football team, because why not, and accidentally almost took a kid’s arm off so pterodactyls go to jail for that), he was weak and ill, so Shiels and her parents took him in for his house arrest to nurse him back to health. Suddenly, Shiels’s MOM has a PURPLE NOSE. NOT. OK. One day, Pyke’s real girlfriend comes to visit him, and Shiels walks in on them having pterodactyl sex. That girl then turns into a pterodactyl and lives out the rest of her days with Pyke, who is a big bad ass prehistoric beast and breaks out of house arrest because who on Earth is going to stop him?
Probably the best part of the entire book was when all of the school’s parents were outraged when they found out about Pyke, and a parent actually asked “Has a paleontologist been notified?” and I laughed out loud. If there were some more lines like that, the book would have taken itself a lot less seriously, and would have been much more successful.
In a way, this book was ridiculously bad. But in another way, I’m pretty obsessed with it and now I need to tell everyone I know about it. So, I guess Cumyn did a good job, right? I understand and like what the author was going for, but the execution was just not good enough for me.
Honestly, you should probably read it for yourself and decide. Like I said, I don’t think of this as a good book, but I think maybe this one is worth experiencing.