My Mechanical Romance | Alexene Farol Follmuth


My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth

Out Now from Holiday House; 272 pages

Content Warning: Mild language, misogyny, sexism, absent parent, separated parents, mentions of parental infidelity, discussion of racism, mild sexual content 

About the Author: “Alexene Farol Follmuth is a first-generation American, a romance enthusiast, and a lover and writer of stories. Alexene has penned a number of adult SFF projects under the name Olivie Blake, including the webtoon Clara and the Devil with illustrator Little Chmura and the internationally bestselling The Atlas Six. My Mechanical Romance is her YA debut, to be followed by a new YA rom-com from Tor (2024). She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, goblin prince/toddler, and rescue pit bull”  (Bio from author’s website).

Find Alexene Farol Follmuth on the following platforms:

“Maybe life hasn’t always pointed things out to me the way I was expecting, but if I was lucky enough to let the universe catapult me here, then all the hard stuff along the way was worth it.” 

Bel’s senior year is not going well. She’s at a new school, her parents have separated, and her college applications needed to be written, like, yesterday. When a science project snafu forces Bel to join the robotics team, a whole new set of challenges enter Bel’s life. The boys ignore her, the club teacher thinks she has an attitude problem, and the only other girl on the team hates her. Luckily, team captain Teo Luna seems to believe Bel belongs (even if he constantly argues with her). With Nationals fast approaching, Bel, Teo, and the rest of the team must work together to build a winning robot. Building bots is easy enough, but building a team? Well, that’s a bit more complicated.

After meeting Alexene at the Tucson Festival of Books, we could not wait to read her YA debut novel! The story delivers all kinds of representation: cultural diversity, nontraditional family relationships, and the realities of being a woman in a predominantly male space. Bel was an easy character to love, with her penchant for glitter eyeliner, uncertainty about the future, and affinity for engineering. Rather than being already established in science, Bel is just starting out. We loved seeing her overcome her initial uncertainty and blossom into a girl who knows engineering just as well, if not better, than the boys. Bel’s arc shows that she is capable on her own, and establishes how her skills with the bots make her a valuable contribution to the team. Her academic rivals-to-lovers arc with Teo was also delightful. The dual-POV between Bel and Teo was adorable to read, if not a little dramatic at times (but, hey, they’re teenagers—they can’t not be dramatic). The drama wasn’t all romantic angst, though. Both Bel and Teo have their own family situations to deal with. Bel’s internal conflicts with her family and Teo’s tense relationship with his dad offered a well-written balance to the story. The development of Bel and Teo’s relationships with the team as a whole also made for a satisfying and heartwarming conclusion. My Mechanical Romance truly has so many things to enjoy—it’s a good ol’ fashioned teen romance with great STEM rep. Definitely worth the read! 

PRR Community Outreach Lead, Aruna Sreenivasan 

PRR Assistant Director, Erika Brittain


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