I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Seven Percent of Ro Devereux by Ellen O'Clover
Published by Harper Teen on January 17, 2023
Pages: 320 •Format: E-Book •Source: NetGalley
Ro Devereux can predict your future. Or at least, the app she's created can. Inspired by the iconic kids' game, MASH calculates details about your life with 93% accuracy, like where you'll live and what your career will be. It can even match you with your soulmate.
When MASH goes viral, swanky Silicon Valley app developer XLR8 swoops in to partner with Ro. She's thrilled until she's betrayed by her own algorithm and matched with her ex-best friend Miller, the person who hates her most in the world.
Thrust into the spotlight and labeled America's sweethearts, Ro and Miller watch MASH spread like wildfire. As the app takes on a life of its own, Ro realizes it's changing how people exist in society. And that if she can't regain control, MASH might take her—and everything she believes in—down with it.
I love a good YA novel that features girls in tech, and Seven Percent of Ro Devereux is one of the best I’ve read so far!
The story follows Ro, a high schooler who created an app (with the help of a good family friend who happens to be a behavioral scientist) based on the popular children’s game MASH (honestly, this took me back!! I didn’t know the kids were still playing MASH these days LOL). The app has a 93% accuracy rate (hence the 7% reference in the title) and hits all of the main points of the original game except for the partner match. Ro creates the app for a school project, but hopes that it can catapult her into start up success so she can skip going to college. When her influencer cousin mentions the app on her socials, it goes from being a school project to an online sensation, thrusting Ro into the tech world faster than she anticipated when a larger tech company offers to buy 50% of the rights to the app and help her distribute it.
Despite Ro’s father’s initial skepticism, she goes ahead with the partnership, and they immediately pressure her into adding the “match” portion, which gives the app a dating app type feel. In order to sell the “success” of the matching feature, they ask Ro to match first and then publicly date her match. This turns out to lead to a fake relationship because -surprise!- her match is her old bff who hates her now. If you like the fake dating trope, I think you’ll definitely enjoy this story, as it was cute and emotional at the same time, and I really did think Miller was an adorable YA love interest.
However, the romance wasn’t the main draw for me in this story, but rather the exploration of ethic surrounding Ro’s app. The science her and her family friend input into the app’s creation had been diligently tested and only focused on predicting a few categories. When the larger tech company gets involved, they not only pressure Ro into adding the dating/match element, they also start adding all kinds of random categories (breed of pet?) using some rather shady science to back the results. It soon turns into a runaway train that leads to long term relationships breaking up, teens dreams of certain careers dying, etc. It’s the classic case of something small turning into a massive monster that has escaped its creator’s control. It also brought up some interesting questions around fate vs. choice and how different characters interpreted the meaning of MASH on their lives.
Of course, in true YA fashion, Ro and Miller pull a stunt in the last act to “fix” things that 1) Probably wouldn’t actually work and 2) Would probably get them sued IRL, but it’s a YA novel so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ There was also an interesting plotline regarding Ro’s estranged mother that was interesting but felt a tad convenient at the end.
Overall: I think this novel is a really strong addition to the girls in STEM sub genre of YA books, and is very on trend for the current times.
*Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review! This in no way impacted my review of the book.*