20-year-old Kiki Banjo has a lot of influence on the women of ‘Blackwell’–the African students at the majority-white Whitewell College. On her popular radio show, she teaches them how to keep their power while dealing with the school’s male population. But when the charming and emotionally intelligent Malachi transfers into school, the delicate ecosystem of Blackwell society is challenged and Kiki finds herself breaking her own rules.
Honestly, I was kind of meh on this book but if I’m keeping it real, if I were to write anything it would be very similar to this. One of my favorite tropes is judgemental flinty female MCs who think no one likes them but learn that it’s me. Hi. I’m the problem it’s me.
Once we get past all the fake dating hoops–I can’t even explain the convoluted fake dating plot–this is a charismatic romance novel about love, acceptance, and growth. Kiki is kind of a hard character to root for in the beginning because she comes off as a weird feminist strawman but that slowly gets ironed out.
This book is fairly divisive and I think it’s partly because Babalola delves a lot into pop culture and Twitter speak that I think some readers find highly relatable while others find it alienating. I think this is setting the stage for the first crop of traditional romances we are seeing about Gen Z–although Babalola is a millennial herself,
This books feels like the perfect stepping stone for young YA readers who want to read more romance. I know New Adult is a fraught topic in bookish online communities but this book really showed me what college-set romance can do. The college ecosystem is a great setting for stories where you can play with similar stakes of a high school environment without having to handwave the characters being minors.
Weruche Opia is a wonderful narrator, I could listen to her all day. There are scenes in the book that are either a radio show excerpt or documentary excerpt and audiobook makes use of sound effects to add a little atmosphere. I thought that was a fun addition and I don’t think I’ve seen it talked about!