Falling in love is a chemical reaction.
Just ask Kaya Rubio, twenty-five year-old Molecular Genetics graduate student and research assistant. Fed up with her spinster aunts’ relentless reminders and unsolicited advice regarding her Single Since Birth status, she designs a scientific, evidence-based methodology to find her a suitable partner in time for her cousin’s wedding. As any good scientist knows, any valid experimental design requires a negative control. Enter the most unsuitable candidate for a potential boyfriend: the messy, easygoing, café owner Nero Sison. Her null hypothesis? Going out with Nero would establish her baseline data without catalyzing the chemical reaction she seeks.
But when Kaya’s recorded results refuse to make sense, she is forced to come to the conclusion that there are some things in life that are simply, by nature, irrational and illogical. And that sometimes, chemistry doesn’t always happen inside a lab.
With the whole concept of “finding the most suitable” partner based on scientific, evidence-based methodology, it sounded like a legit, interesting story-line.
Reading Beginner’s Guide felt so refreshing, thanks to the unique setting of the novel.
You know what’s rare in contemporary romances? Women-main characters like Kaya Rubio. What is she like? She’s probably the most logical fictional character I’ve ever met. Most heroines in young/new adult fiction are commonly seen as irrational, illogical, damsels in distress, etc., that eventually turn into strong-powerful empowering women. You barely see MCs with scientist-research associated professions, and I really enjoyed that aspect in this story. She had her priorities straight and her life was pretty much going the way she wanted to. Kaya’s definitely one of a kind. ***** I wasn’t a huge fan of how detached she was with her feelings. It bothered me about how manhid (numb) she can be with doing this project, you know, for science. Although there were times where I couldn’t feel for her, her character development at one point picked up, and the story went well.
Nero Sison, on the other hand was different. He doesn’t qualify from the suitable qualities that Kaya mapped out for the Boyfriend Experiment. He was someone completely out of her comfort zone. He wasn’t a scientist, not even anything close to her field. In fact, he is the opposite. Spontaneous, irrational, and he lets his feelings lead the way he lives his life. Although that may seem like a red flag, he’s insightful, thoughtful, and he always seems to know the right things to say. (Who wouldn’t swoon to THAT right?!).
Plot-wise, I thoroughly enjoyed that this book was set in the Philippine context. Well, particularly in the family aspect. The reunions, the activity, the relationship, they were spot on! I can’t help but relate with how much Kaya’s getting bugged by her family as to when she’ll be in a relationship. I swear almost everyone gets bugged by their Titas (aunts) or any other relative.
I’d like to commend Six de los Reyes for the writing style in Beginner’s Guide as it made me be in Kaya’s mind. A bit too deep with how she talks, but it made me appreciate her character as it made me somehow, think the way she thinks.
Overall, this book was definitely different from most novels I have encountered. Still, an enjoyable read. Despite the mildly heavy scientific terms, there was still wit and drama! If you’re looking for something fresh, I would definitely recommend this novel!