In Andrea Portes’ Anatomy of a Misfit, the titular misfit is Anika Dragomir who, despite being the third most popular girl in school, feels like an outsider in small-town Nebraska due to her rumoredly vampiric father, annoyingly large family, and the “dark thoughts and diabolical plots” in her head. Scared of losing her social status, she kowtows to the sadistic whims of frenemy Becky Vilhauer, to the point that when newly-handsome nerd Logan expresses interest, she hides their burgeoning relationship from the world. But as they get closer, Logan’s troubled home life and the attentions of the older, rebellious Jared Kline rock their boat, and Anika has to decide if she’s willing to risk social ostracism by being who she really wants to be.
Anika was a fascinatingly un-PC character, with a witty and brutally honest voice and whose best intentions usually lead to hilariously messed-up actions. I loved how she seems to be the type of person that would have it all together, but since the reader is in her head, you know she’s as confused as the rest of us – people should remember this about each other more often. While she can be judgmental and mean (i.e. calling her stepdad an ogre and slut-shaming her sister and best friend), she is also capable of surprising kindness (ex. helping Becky’s bullied victims or befriending her black coworker in the face of racism). I think she would be relatable to many teens who want to become their better selves but struggle because of high school pressures.
Other than Anika, the characters were quite stereotypical, from the slutty Shelli to the mean girl Becky to bad boy Jared Kline. Worst of all was nerd-turned-sexy-loner Logan. I just couldn’t get behind the Logan-Anika romance. Yes, it’s great that she was dating outside her social strata, but she could do it with a guy who was less of a creep. Despite cute moments like his relationship with his siblings, Logan came off as an obsessive stalker in the vein of Edward Cullen. I was so glad when Anika dumped him after he beat up a guy “for her” but I wish she had stayed away. Although I felt for her after the devastating conclusion of Logan’s life, I regretted more that she decided to go back to him than for his circumstances. The trite finale in which Anika scolds Becky Cruel Intentions-style at Logan’s memorial was too much for me as it was a hypocritical character-development reversal.