About “Do You Want to Be Normal?” by Koji Kojou::
Genre: Young Adult; Comedy; Drama; Psychological
“William was at the bottom of his high school’s social ladder. Given the nickname “Crybaby Bill” by his peers after a sudden emotional outburst, he had accepted his fate as a friendless loser… Until he joined the Normal Club. Led by the eerily robotic Alyssa Silverstein, the gang of weirdos participates in experiments, discusses love and relationships, and scrambles to put together a talent show performance.As his fourth self-published book, “Do You Want to Be Normal?” is a return to a genre that Koji Kojou is comfortable with: school-life comedy. Inspired by Japanese light novels like Oreimo and Oregairu, Koji has crafted an oddball adventure that’s sure to warm hearts, and hopefully make people think about what it truly means to be “normal.””
School clubs can be really fun and sometimes even educational, but what happens when you realize the one you’ve joined is using you as a guinea pig in their social experiment? “Do You Want to Be Normal?” is a quirky tale about a group of students who find themselves part of The Normal Club. Its purpose: to teach outcasts and weirdos how to fit in.
We’re first introduced to William who received the taunting nickname ‘Crybaby Bill’ after accidentally crying in the middle of his class. Alienated by his peers, he comes across The Normal Club whose president Alyssa is even stranger than him. Her oddly mechanical and detached behavior keeps her distanced from other students while also drawing the curiosity of our protagonist.
So William decides to help her club become official. The club’s activities include various social experiments, conducted by Alyssa who studies the members’ interactions and reactions in order to come to an understanding of what it means to be normal and how to become so.
However, there is more to their strange president than meets the eye. As the story continues, William finds himself investigating Alyssa and trying to understand who and what she is. When it seems she is beginning to criticize his feelings and involvement with the other members, he needs to know why. Is this robotic girl more sinister than she appears?
The author treats us to a captivating mystery while analyzing the various experiences that have molded the characters’ psyches. It’s a clever story with endearing characters, interesting experiments, great back stories, some comedic relief, and a few anxiety-inducing moments.
I love that the cover art is in anime style because the book does have the atmosphere of a manga/anime. My favorite thing about the story is the characters’ reactions/decisions. While some seem pretty typical, they all feel realistic and even different from how you’d typically expect fictional characters to react which keeps the reader both interested in them and curious of what they’ll do.
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~Sahreth ‘Baphy’ Bowden