Review: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde




Rating: 4.5 stars
Release Date: March 14, 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher
Status: standalone
(but characters from QoG will show up in The Brightsiders!

Image result for add to goodreads button

Summary:
When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.


Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Review:
OH MY GOSH THIS BOOK IS ADORABLE AND PRECIOUS AND JUST *fangirl squee*. Not only is Queens of Geek a really fun geeky read, I found myself really connecting to the non-fandom moments too. Don't hate me for this, but I found myself dog-earing so many pages because I wanted to remember some very profound moments (I don't do this to finished copies; I read an arc, and I think it's okay to dog-ear an arc). Fifteen pages turned down in a book that is only 288 pages total.

I mostly found myself connecting with Taylor so most of my marks are during her chapters. I LOVE how Jen uses Taylor's experiences at the con to show anxiety and how it's different than how most non-anxious people perceive it to be. Taylor also shows us the energy struggles of being an introvert. The blog post Taylor writes on page 98 really resonated with me:

"I gotta recover from today so I'm ready to do it all again tomorrow. Anyone who knows me will tell you I have a tendency to overdo it sometimes, especially when I'm excited about something. I go all in. And if I'm not careful, I'll wipe myself out before the end of day one. I guess you could say I need to ration my energy." 

Man, I feel that so hard! I love attending book festivals and conferences like TLA, ALA, and BEA/Book Expo or cons like Dragon Con, but I always need sleep, food, and a few recovery days afterward to restore my energy levels. This is something Alyssa also mentions on page 121 when she talks about social hangovers and how excitement and anxiety sometimes battle out and one will temporarily win out over the other and how it's important to take care of yourself. Taylor is also a phenomenal example of positive fat rep (to me), and she is one of the few narrators I've ever read with Asperger's. I recommend checking out the Queens of Geek review on Disability in Kidlit for an ownvoices perspective on Taylor's autism.

I don't necessarily see myself in Charlie, but I also loved her chapters. Charlie is a badass who is quick to stand up against sexism and racism, but she also doesn't let stereotypes hold her back. For instance, she acknowledges that while the "Asian character with dyed hair" is a not-so-original take, she liked her pink hair after guest-starring on a show and decided to keep it for herself. Another reason I love Charlie is that she's unapologetically proud of herself and her accomplishments. The show she dyed her hair for may not have been on the mark when they required her to dye her hair, but she mentions how excited she is for being the first Chinese-Australian actor to be featured in the show. And in a flashback, she refused to be embarrassed when her mom was proud to see her doing well in school. When Taylor is having a freak out post-kiss, Charlie wins all the friend awards when she gives a fantastic pep talk about what it's like to be a girl in society: "You don't need to fit yourself into what society tells us a girl should be Girls can be whoever they want. Whether that's an ass-kicking, sarcastic, crime-solving FBI agent or a funny, gorgeous, witty, beauty queen—or both at the same time" (page 183) YAAAAAASSSSSS, CHARLIE!

One thing I think is amazing about Charlie, Taylor, and Jamie is that they call out bad behavior, even when it's their own. When Charlie's ex is being a tool and she lashes out at him and calls the girl he cheated with a slut, Charlie is quick to apologize out loud and then internally challenge herself. And in a flashback, she also challenges Reese's skewed view of equality when he refuses to see her bisexuality as valid. Jamie also is quick to refute Reese's claims that Taylor is a bitch when Reese is the one insulting her and Charlie. Taylor more than holds her own during that argument, but I love that Jamie has her back. Taylor has an AMAZING blog post on fat shaming on pages 199-201 in which she calls out a fellow fan for her hurtful words, but she doesn't stoop to insulting the girl in return.

I can't quite give Queens of Geek 5 stars because of a couple minor complaints. I wanted to know way more about the fandoms represented in the book, particularly Queen Firestone. Taylor said several times why and how Queen Firestone means so much to her, and I really would have liked a better sense of what the story was, rather than just trivia tidbits. Also, although it's totally realistic (my sister and I do this), Taylor and Jamie's movie/tv quote game is a little distracting. Plus, all those pop culture references are going to date the book SO MUCH, and any one who doesn't know all those references will be annoyed by how many there are. I think it's one thing to slide in some easter eggs and yay for anyone who catches those, but I found the constant references to movies and shows during scenes not directly related to the con to be distracting to the moment. This is a nerdy book, absolutely, and I think these bits were designed to help readers understand how nerdy the characters are, but we already know they're nerdy. They flew to a con in the US from Australia! They cosplay and collect graphic novels and comic books! These are minor complaints; I still loved the book as a whole.

Queens of Geek is a book that has all the right elements—strong friendships (both between girls and girls and a guy), fandom, diversity of all kinds, romance—and I love the way Jen put these pieces together. It's a fun, fluffy story with plenty of substance that made me laugh and cry, which is always a plus. It's full of beautiful, thoughtful quotes, and I would like to leave you with three:

#1: "Don't look. I don't want you to see my messiness." I hate crying in front of people.

Charlie hands me a tissue from the box on the bedside table. "We're all messy. What kind of friends would we be if we demanded you only show us your prettiness? This isn't Instagram, it's real life. And real life is messy." (page 184)

#2: We don't care about the mess we're making. Messes aren't so bad, so long as you have people to share them with. (page 242)

#3: "Look! She's just as weird as we are!"

"I knew she would be. She's too awesome not to be weird."

[...]

"Can we just be weird together forever?"

"Hells yes." (page 251)

Find books that show you the truth, guys. Both the best and not-best that life has to offer. I think Queens of Geek is one of those. And find the people in life who accept your messiness, your weird, your awesome, your worst, and your best. 

Purchase Links:
   

About the Author:
Jen Wilde is a writer, geek and fangirl with a penchant for coffee, books and pugs. She writes YA stories about zombies As They Rise, witches (Echo of the Witch), and fangirls (Queens of Geek). Her debut series reached over three million reads online and became an Amazon bestseller.

When she’s not writing, Jen loves binge-watching her favorite shows on Netflix, eating pizza, traveling to far away places and going to conventions in Marty McFly cosplay.

Her next book, The Brightsiders, comes out in May, 2018 from Swoon Reads/Macmillan.

Author Links:
    


3 comments:

  1. This sounds like such a good read! I would count myself as a bit of a fangirl and geek too so I love books with protagonists who are just like that. And judging from what I heard of her I think Taylor is a character I can really resonate with. I'll definitely add QoG to my TBRs!

    Have a nice day, Sina

    https://sinaunknown.blogspot.ch/

    ReplyDelete
  2. I loved your review! I have to admit that I "gasped" when you mentioned dog-earring the pages, but sighed in relief when you mentioned you don't do this to finished copies :) I am researching anxiety for personal reasons right now, so reading this post today means so much to me. I have to check out this book and learn more about how someone with anxiety feels mentally and physically (I know there are physical manifestations that can be quite severe).

    ReplyDelete
  3. I find the Kool Aid-colored hair on the cover a bit creeptastic, but this looks like a fun book!

    ReplyDelete