Be More Chill

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Be More Chill is a novel published on June 1, 2004 by American author Ned Vizzini.[1] It features a fictional pill named the "SQUIP." This story is set around 2010 to 2015, about 10 years in the future after the novel was published. In 2015, a musical adaptation, with a score by Joe Iconis ran at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey.[2]

Plot[edit]

Be More Chill is written in the first person, from the perspective of high school student Jeremy Heere. Jeremy is considered a loser by his popular peers; the popular girls have no interest in him, and he is frequently tormented by bullies. Jeremy's best friend is the music-loving Michael Mell. They always sit together at lunch and often talk about Jeremy's attempts at wooing his longtime crush, Christine. Jeremy is tired of being a loser and hopes to find a way to change this. His main goal in life is to get Christine to notice he is alive, and maybe eventually start dating her. Christine loves anything to do with plays, which is how Jeremy plans to implement his plans as they both practice for their school play, Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. His advances are slow-going at first.

Rich, a short-statured, but well-built part of the popular teen group bullies Jeremy. During a rather uncomfortable encounter in the bathroom, Rich informs Jeremy that he really needs to become cool, hinting at something that could help, but leaves before he can explain it further. Jeremy digs deeper into this matter, asking Michael if he's ever heard of something like this before. Michael tells him that he's vaguely heard of a technology that can improve your life, he thinks its called a "script" and he suspects his brother used one to get a high SAT score.

Rich finds Jeremy at the school's Halloween dance and tells him about the SQUIP. A "SQUIP" (Super Quantum Unit Intel Processor) is a supercomputer in the form of a pill that can communicate directly with your brain after being ingested with Mountain Dew. Jeremy decides to search for this "SQUIP." The pill is used to become cooler, and comes with different avatar voices such as Sean Connery, Keanu Reeves, etc. Jeremy purchases the pill in the back of a Payless Shoe Store, in hopes of transforming himself from a klutzy loser to a member of the social elite to gain the attention of Christine.

The pill does just that: it instructs him on how to dress, act, talk, and generally comport himself through each day. He quickly gains the attention of Chloe and Katrina, two of the most popular girls in the school, as well as Brooke, who Jeremy skips class to make out with. Rich stops bullying Jeremy, saying that it was his own SQUIP who was telling him to in order to be cooler.

Jeremy also slowly gains the attentions of Christine, as he advances through the social ranks of Middle Borough High School. However, this does come with a price: neglecting his friendship with Michael. Jeremy's SQUIP tells him that Michael is beyond his help and will never be cool, but Jeremy demands that his SQUIP helps Micheal. It obliges. Later Michael and Jeremy attend a house party, where things heat up. Christine's boyfriend Jake cheats on her with Katrina while people watch and videotape it, which prompts Christine to break things off with him. Jeremy, aided by his SQUIP, takes advantage of this opportunity to further advance their growing relationship. Michael hooks up with and starts dating Nicole. Christine catches a ride home with them. The next morning, Jeremy is woken up to news that Rich had burned down the house from the previous night and is in the hospital.

The SQUIP comes up with the ultimate foolproof plan to get Christine to fall for Jeremy during the school play. Halfway through the play, after Jeremy's character is "revived" by Christine's, the plan comes into play. Jeremy begins by saying how rough he's had it at school, and how that has inspired him to go after what he cares about. He then professes his love for Christine and asks her go out with him. Christine, staying in character, is angry at him for disrupting the play, but they continue out the rest of the scene awkwardly. Jeremy tries asking his SQUIP for advice on what to do next and to continue helping him remember his lines, but it does not respond. The drama teacher and play director, Mr. Reyes, then kicks Jeremy out for breaking character. Michael comes across a distraught Jeremey who confesses he acquired a SQUIP that has been influencing him for the last few months. Michael reveals he knew what SQUIPs really was the entire time, and told Jeremy a fake name because he knew that Jeremy would want one if he knew.

The SQUIP returns, apologizing to Jeremy for what he's done, asking to be deactivated as he is apparently faulty, and recommending Jeremy get a new model when it is released. He says that Mountain Dew Code Red will deactivate him. Before he does this, they come up with the idea to do a "data dump", or recall everything in Jeremy's head since the time of him being into Christine, in hopes that she will understand his feelings and why he did what he did. The implication is that the novel itself is the product of this "data dump" and becomes the in-universe book intended for Christine.

Characters[edit]

  • Jeremy Heere: The protagonist. At the beginning of the novel, Jeremy is bullied by the "cooler" kids at school. In an attempt to gain the affection of his longtime crush, Christine, he purchases a Squip, a supercomputer that resides in a pill. He then quickly becomes one of the most popular teenagers at the school and has the attention of the most attractive girls. For the most part, Jeremy acts like a normal teenager and is inherently a nice guy.
  • Michael Mell: Jeremy's longtime best friend. He tells Jeremy a false name for the squip, knowing that Jeremy would want one. At the party, Michael gets a girlfriend named Nicole. He knew what the squip was the entire time since his friends brother had one. His friends brothers squip made him paranoid and delusional due to him wanting to get it out. He got it to help him ace his SAT's. Michael has a love for music and Jeremy, as shown by the large headphones he's always wearing.
  • Christine Caniglia: Jeremy's love interest. Unlike most of the girls in the novel, Christine has a more intellectual personality and favors confidence and kindness and overlooks social status. Christine is the only girl that Jeremy has a crush on, although he goes out with two others. Her last name was altered to Canigula in the musical.
  • Rich Goranski: Rich used to be a loser like Jeremy, but after getting a Squip, he became cool and popular. He is the one who first correctly tells him about the Squip at the school's Halloween dance.
  • Jake Dillinger: Christine's boyfriend at the beginning of the book, but when he hooks up in a room at the party with Katrina, Christine realizes she has to dump him.
  • Chloe Valentine: Although Christine is Jeremy's love interest, Chloe is the main girl that Jeremy is involved with. After he gets the squip and acts differently around her, Chloe becomes attracted to Jeremy. She is best friends with Katrina and Stephanie.
  • Brooke Lohst: As mentioned in Brooke's bio, she is very 'sexually active.' She knew Jeremy for approximately 10 minutes and then invited him into her mother's car to engage in sexual intercourse. She is the first for Jeremy to date to " get to " Christine.
  • Jenna Rolan: Known as the school gossip, she sits near Jeremy in one of his classes, which is how he overhears so many bits of information about himself as well as Christine.
  • The Squip: A supercomputer that resides in Jeremy's mind. It speaks to him telepathically with Keanu Reeves' voice, and gives him real-time social advice. It can be "very soothing" when it wants to and is very persuasive when it is telling Jeremy to do something he doesn't want to do. Rich has one as well, but his is different from Jeremy's.
  • "Mr. Reyes": A high school teacher in New Jersey. He has glasses and a beard.

Musical adaptation[edit]

A musical based on the book premiered in June 2015 at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey, where it received positive reviews. Praised as "a high-energy, imaginative, well-crafted world premiere musical" in The Star-Ledger, Be More Chill was lauded as "a vibrant, inventive musical that makes the most of every moment and features an abundantly talented cast"[3] by BroadwayWorld.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Webber, Charlie. "Be More Chill". Teen Reads. The Book Report Network. Retrieved 19 June 2017. 
  2. ^ Isherwood, Charles. "Review: In 'Be More Chill,' a Nerd Finds Popularity in a Sci-Fi Pill". NYTimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved 19 June 2017. 
  3. ^ Kennedy, Marina. "BWW Reviews: BE MORE CHILL at TRT is Terrific New Musical Theater". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2017-08-05.