I will never get tired of reading about coding girls. Give me all the STEM girls and heroines, all the ones who have to dismantle the patriarchy and sexism. If You, Then Me is a precious contemporary that just swept me away in the ways Xia discovers herself. The limits of what she will do, who she loves, and sees in herself. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
What would you ask your future self? First question: What does it feel like to kiss someone?
Xia is stuck in a lonely, boring loop. Her only escapes are Wiser, an artificial intelligence app she designed to answer questions like her future self, and a mysterious online crush she knows only as ObjectPermanence.
And then one day Xia enrolls at the Foundry, an app incubator for tech prodigies in Silicon Valley.
Suddenly, anything is possible. Flirting with Mast, a classmate also working on AI, leads to a date. Speaking up generates a vindictive nemesis intent on publicly humiliating her. And running into Mitzy Erst, Foundry alumna and Xia’s idol, could give Xia all the answers.
And then Xia receives a shocking message from ObjectPermanence: He is at the Foundry, too. Xia is torn between Mast and ObjectPermanence—just as Mitzy pushes her towards a shiny new future. Xia doesn’t have to ask Wiser to know: The right choice could transform her into the future self of her dreams, but the wrong one could destroy her.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: sexism and racism
What immediately drew me to Xia was her vulnerability and heart. The ways she has poured herself into her work and the ways her fears resonated with me. Woon combines a heroine who makes mistakes, gets caught up, but also is trying so desperately to find herself, with a great premise and set up. In some ways, this felt a bit like “You’ve Got Mail” with teenagers and coding. I finished If You, Then Me in a few days because I was just so swept away with the plot and action.
The ways Xia has to figure out if we let people’s opinions and efforts to humiliate us effect us. How it becomes so hard to filter out their voices of doubt in our head. The sounds of laughter and mockery which chips away at our armor. What is more relatable than that? At the same time, If You, Then Me examines the differences between the people we imagine in our head and reality. Because we can believe so thoroughly in someone, only for who they really are to show through and disappoint us.
The elements of meeting role models, of building people up in our head, and how we can get caught up in being seen. All of these layers of If You, Then Me made reading a breeze. Are we able to re-write ourselves? Fix our mistakes and change our programming, our past, our history, and our future? If you’re looking for a perfect summer read featuring STEM girls, love which defies expectations and self-love, as well as forgiveness, you have to pick up If You, Then Me.
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