Review | Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes

This emotional, hilarious, devastating, and ultimately triumphant YA debut, based on actual events, recounts one girl’s rejection of her high school’s hierarchy—and her discovery of her true self in the face of tragedy.
Fall’s buzzed-about, in-house favorite.

Outside, Anika Dragomir is all lip gloss and blond hair—the third most popular girl in school. Inside, she’s a freak: a mix of dark thoughts, diabolical plots, and, if local chatter is to be believed, vampire DNA (after all, her father is Romanian). But she keeps it under wraps to maintain her social position. One step out of line and Becky Vilhauer, first most popular girl in school, will make her life hell. So when former loner Logan McDonough shows up one September hotter, smarter, and more mysterious than ever, Anika knows she can’t get involved. It would be insane to throw away her social safety for a nerd. So what if that nerd is now a black-leather-jacket-wearing dreamboat, and his loner status is clearly the result of his troubled home life? Who cares if the right girl could help him with all that, maybe even save him from it? Who needs him when Jared Kline, the bad boy every girl dreams of, is asking her on dates? Who?

Anatomy of a Misfit is Mean Girls meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Anika’s hilariously deadpan delivery will appeal to readers for its honesty and depth. The so-sad-it’s-funny high school setting will pull readers in, but when the story’s dark foreboding gradually takes over, the devastating penultimate tragedy hits like a punch to the gut. Readers will ride the highs and lows alongside funny, flawed Anika — from laughter to tears, and everything in between.

3 cupcakes

From what I’ve seen, this is an incredibly polarizing book, and whether you like it or not depends largely on how you find the narrator’s voice. While I certainly had some issues with it, I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed Anatomy of a Misfit for the most part.

I found Anika to be a snarky, ridiculous, entertaining, and dramatic narrator. Her thoughts and choices made her difficult to like at times, especially regarding the amount of slut-shaming, racial/homophobic slurs, and stereotypes that she used. Despite this, Anika was honest and genuine in her (often misguided) attempts to become a better person. Anika is not someone that I would want to befriend, but her portrayal was certainly realistic and managed to grow on me throughout the course of the book.

As alluded to in the synopsis, there is a love triangle of sorts between Anika, Jared Kline (the “bad boy”) and Logan (the “nerd”). I wasn’t a huge fan of either boy, especially once the romantic gestures were peeled away to show their underlying, darker traits. Had I felt more for these characters, the tragic ending would have had more of an impact; instead, it felt cliched and flat, despite the good message that it had about social hierarchies in high school.

Overall, Anatomy of a Misfit was not quite as powerful of a book as I had expected but, despite its flaws, it made for a fairly enjoyable read.

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