The Dating Game
by Kiley Roache
ebook, 304 pages
Expected publication on April 1st 2019 by Inkyard Press
The Social Network gets a romantic twist in this fresh and engaging new read from the author of Frat Girl, Kiley Roache. Experience the whirlwind ups and downs of college life in this authentic and entertaining new novel!
When a notoriously difficult class for future entrepreneurs leads to three freshmen developing the next “it” app for dating on college campuses, all hell breaks loose…
Type A control freak Sara lives by her color-coordinated Post-it notes.
Rich boy Braden wants out from under his billionaire father’s thumb.
Scholarship student Roberto can’t afford for his grades to drop.
When the three are forced to work together in one of the university’s most difficult classes, tension rises to the breaking point…until, shockingly, the silly dating app they create proves to be the most viable project in class. Late nights of app development, interest from investors and unexpected romance are woven into a true-to-life college drama that explores what it means to really connect online and IRL.
This book is such a pleasant surprise! While I was excited to read this due to the cover and synopsis, I was a bit worried after seeing the goodreads rating. However, this book proves that a rating doesn’t always reflect your reading taste and if you’re interested with it, you have to go for it! So why should you give this book a chance?
01. A quick read
Remember the signs of reading slump I mentioned in my wrap up? Yeah, it finally arrived in full swing that I can’t finish any book. The Dating Game is the second book I finished this month, and it’s the one that break my reading slump. I know technology is such a huge thing now, especially with the good and bad of Silicon Valley, but I never read anything set there. It’s super refreshing and interesting to see the aspiring students, how competitive they are in good and bad ways. I also enjoyed the ideation & pitching process, it felt so real! The writing really conveys all the emotions and terms happening without it being filled with tech terms or patronizing the readers. It’s also pretty fast paced, fun, and the perfect length!
02. An honest discussion of sexism, privilege, and immigration
While it is being a quick read, it is not an easy read. The three most glaring issues discussed in this book are sexism, immigration, and privilege; each represented by our main characters.
“The culture was just pretty brutal for women. Full of bro-gamers. I would lead my group and then never get picked for projects. Was mistaken as an assistant like three times. One night I was working late and someone thought I was there to take out the trash.”
Sara is a girl and knows all too well of the sexist culture in the world of technology. Along the way, she met a fellow girl in her class called Yaz, who used to worked at another tech giant. They shared advice and passion in coding, but what’s important is they don’t sit around and complained about the treatment they received. Instead, they support each other. They have fun together and what they are doing, and they are always there for each other. Instead of letting the sexism get to them and scared them, they stick together and dreamed on building their own company to advance women in technology. They dreamed of getting seats on that metaphorical table, so others can sit with them. I think it’s awesome and I love it so much!
“It seems so crazy that an invisible line, almost arbitrarily drawn, could have this power to separate people who love each other for years at a time. It doesn’t seem fair or just.”
Roberto‘s parents are separated; her mother was deported years ago and they have been trying hard to get her back ever since. His mother’s absence is not his whole story, but it’s definitely a big part of his life. They are trying to scrape enough money and made it in the tech world, so they can hire a lawyer that could help his mother. Even on the US side of the line, Roberto is on the other side of privilege. He can’t afford to have his grade slip. He can’t be in the same room as drugs with the same ease Sara and Braden could be. He couldn’t live on-campus, instead commuting to his house everyday to be with his dad and his neighbors. He is constantly in fears that someone he knows will be a victim of gun violence and how his neighbor kids will turn out. His story, while fiction for this book, is the story of many immigrants and their children. He’s very well written, it made me feel even more connected with him and the issue.
“People know there’s a value in being wanted, and that it’s the kind of value you can count in Benjamins.”
Braden is the depiction of white male privilege and all the wrongs that come with it. He is not at risk of not getting a job for being a girl, nor to never see his parents anymore. His world may be perfect, with all the privilege and his behavior surely mirrors that, but it doesn’t mean it’s not without hiccup. While he did some mean and unforgivable things, we got a glimpse of his weakness and his sweet side, thus humanizing him instead of making him some sort of villains. I’m not saying he is innocent, but we could see why he thinks and acts like he did. He is the privileged one in the group, and it is reflected by his actions and thinking that rarely consider others.
03. But also discuss about underrepresented topics in YA
While the main topics discussed are sexism, immigration, and privilege, The Dating Game also discussed about other underrepresented topics in YA really well. The standout ones are different generations between us and our parents, as well as parental expectations and the effect they have on teenagers.
In one scene, Roberto told us on how his father loves to watch TV. To him, TV means something different than it is to us right now. It does not only mean watching news and TV shows, but for the older generation, TV means connection and structure with others. How each show represents different days, how after each shows he will call Roberto’s mom and talk about the episodes, and how on the weekends it connects him with the community with communal football game watch. I think this scene really sticks to me as often times, YA books write the differences we have as a thing that separates us from our parents instead of connect us, on how it causes our parents to unable to understand us. But in this book, despite not doing the same activity as his parents, Roberto understands his parents, and with this understanding, comes the connection between them. Instead of a divider, the differences are made as the thing that connects the different generation.
“Do you know how successful I have to be to return on that investment, to not be a loss to my parents?”
While Branden acts like a jackass most of the time, there are scenes where he showed vulnerability and the pressure he’s under. From the way his dad talk with him, how they treat him like an investment, and how his school crazy-expensive school became a trap instead of heaven. I think it’s a real problem to address on how parents often put high expectations towards their children without thinking of the child’s wants and treating them as an investment. This is definitely not fictional, and should be talked about more. When did the desire to see our children succeed became equal to get investment return? There is a huge difference between stories of families who needs their children succeed so they can have a better life or help them achieve a better life, from treating them as an investment.
04. Questioning about what it means being human and the future of technology
In a book that sets in the Silicon Valley and tells the story of aspiring tech-innovators, this book talked a lot about technology and how it changes the way human interacts and views each other. While it is a topic that has been extensively discussed on news and discussion columns, writing it as a form of fiction that reflects the reality surely help it to be more relateable for readers.
“And just like that, he’s now part of the search to find a perfect 10. Or I guess, to become a perfect 10? I’m honestly not sure what the name supposed to imply.”
Sara, Braden, and Robbie created an app that allows people nearby to rank each other and created a status based these ratings. While the application was created in goodwill at the beginning, as a warning system against stalkers and creeps, it didn’t take long for them (and us) to realize how the system is abused by its user and how it turned out of their control. In the end, the app became a tools to gain approval and satisfy the need of being wanted and vanity for the users. Ultimately, it made think of the current technology we use. Are they turned out the way the makers wanted it to be? Do they improve our lives in a superficial or a real beneficial way? And how do we use this app correctly?
The Dating Game is a pleasant surprise for me. It was fun and fast paced, with easy-to-read writing style and interesting setting. However, it also has a very well developed cast of characters and discussed a lot of problems. These issues did not overwhelmed the main story, in fact, the author managed to weaves it seamlessly into the story. I’m a bit meh on the romance, but overall, this book is a strong contender for my 2019 favorites!