Posted in geek, geek culture, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult/New Adult

Fandom, friends, and the real world: Zoe Rosenthal is Not Lawful Good

Zoe Rosenthal is Not Lawful Good, by Nancy Werlin, (Apr. 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536214734

Ages 13+

High school senior Zoe Rosenthal is a planning machine, bullet journal set for stun. She and her boyfriend, Simon, are the definition of power couple: they’re researching college choices to attend together (so many color-coded spreadsheets); she’s working to save money while he volunteers for a local politician and envisions a socially just career in political science, and then they’ll marry, have their 2.5 kids, and live happily ever after. All she has to do is sneak off to Dragon Con for a season premiere of her secretly favorite show, Bleeders. It’s great science fiction, which Simon poo-poos as “ridiculous”. She should be watching Very Serious Documentaries, not wasting time on genre “garbage”. But once at DragonCon, she falls in love with fandom and meets a group of “Bloodygits” – the Bleeders fandom – that may just be the best thing that ever happened to her. A story of how fandom is always there to catch you when you fall, Zoe Rosenthal is Not Lawful Good is filled with great little pop culture and fandom winks and nudges. Zoe and her fellow supporting characters are all pretty well realized, and encompass a diverse cast. Author Nancy Werlin is a National Book award finalist, Edgar award winner, and NYT bestselling author who not only gets fandom, she enjoys it; she sees how it brings people together. Give to your fandom fic fans; the readers who loved The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love  by Sarvenaz Tash (2016), Ashley Poston’s Once Upon a Con series, and Jen Wilde’s Queens of Geek (2017).

Posted in Fiction, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

Geekerella gave me feels!

Geekerella, by Ashley Poston, (Apr. 2016, Quirk Books), $18.99, ISBN: 978-1594749476

Recommended for readers 12+

The short story: Geekerella is Cinderella for geeks, starring a fangirl and fanboy.

The slightly less short story, but short enough for review purposes: Elle is a devoted fan of the science fiction show, Starfield. Its got a fandom right up there with Star Trek and Star Wars, with conventions and cosplay, online forums and blogs. Elle’s still feeling the loss of her father, who introduced her to the love of Starfield as a child, and the mother that died when she was little. She’s living with her awful, social climbing stepmother and her vapid, beauty vlogger stepsisters and working in the vegan food truck, The Magic Pumpkin.

Darien Freeman is a teen sensation. Half-British society, half Indian, he lives with his Dadager (dad manager), who will sell Darien and his insured abs at any opportunity. Darien’s claim to fame came on an OC-type teen soap opera, but playing Federation Prince Carmindor is going to make him a star – and since he’s a Starfield fanboy, it’s kind of a dream come true. Too bad he’s miserable: his best friend sold him out to the paparazzi, he’s under fire online for taking on the role of Carmindor, and his father is a social climber who uses his son as his stepladder. And now, his dad has him going to this Starfield convention where he just knows he’s going to get eaten alive by the fandom.

Told in shifting perspectives between Elle and Darien, this is the fangirl adaptation of the Cinderella story, complete with cosplay masquerade ball, a magic pumpkin and a punk lesbian fairy godmother in the form of Sage, who works the Magic Pumpkin truck, has a fantastic eye for dress design, and quotes Lord of the Rings at will.

Geekerella hits all the feels for me. I’m a 46 year-old fangirl; a fangirl nurtured by my dad, my uncle, J.R. R. Tolkien, and the kind creators of Star Trek and Star Wars. Unlike Elle, I’m still lucky enough to have my parents, but the story and feelings resonate. Do you know how it’s going to end? Of course you do, but darned if you don’t love the journey. There’s something for every fan in here: Firefly references join hands with Lord of the Rings, Supernatural, Avengers, Trek, and Star Wars winks and nudges. You’ll embrace the characters like longtime friends (I’m partial to Sage and Frank the dachshund), because Ashley Poston’s writing to her tribe: the fans, the cosplayers, the fanfic writers, those of us who have looked beyond the ordinary and dared to see more.

Give this to your fangirls, fanboys, gamers, and geeks. Display or pair with other fandom fic like All the Feels, Queens of Geek, and The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love.

Follow Ashley Poston’s Tumblr for great fandom musings and pictures of amazing cosplay (Yuri on Ice fans, get over there now). Her website has more info about her books and an FAQ.

Posted in gaming, geek, geek culture, Humor, Realistic Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Geek Mystery – The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss

dahlia mossThe Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss, by Max Wirestone (Oct. 2015, Red Hook Books), $20, ISBN: 978-0316385978

Recommended for ages 14+

Geeks finally have a Jessica Fletcher to call their own (That’s the detective from the old TV show, Murder, She Wrote – ask your parents, kids)!  Meet Dahlia Moss – twenty-something geek girl who doesn’t make the best life decisions. She’s unemployed, unattached, and broke, living off her eccentric roommate for the time being. When Charice, her roommate, throws another one of her crazy parties, Dahlia finds herself being hired for private detective work by one of the guests, Jonah – it seems that someone stole a valuable artifact from him through his MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game – think World of Warcraft, for any uninitiated reading this). Dahlia has zero detecting experience, but she does speak geek, and Jonah flashes a lot of money her way, so she takes the case. The plot only thickens when Jonah turns up dead shortly after. Now, Dahlia’s determined to find the artifact, the killer, and quite possibly, a new boyfriend. Let’s hope her decision-making abilities improve!

Told in the first person from Dahlia’s point of view, this is an often hilarious, readable, fun, whodunit. We’ve got a new heroine for the geek age in Dahlia Moss, who’s self-conscious, sarcastic, and fluent in fandom. If you love a good mystery – heck, even if you don’t, but love science fiction, gaming, fantasy, or any kind of fandom, this is a great book for you. Wirestone is a librarian, and if there’s one thing I know about our people, the Geek is strong with us. She humorously captures the strange bedfellows that online gaming makes of us all, and manages to weave together a smartly layered mystery and a love of all things quirky and geek. Dahlia Moss herself is wonderfully left of center and will appeal to anyone whose square peg just won’t fit into that round hole, no matter how hard we try.

Teens and college students will get a kick out of this book and likely try to figure out how their own social groups match up to Dahlia and her friends. Here’s hoping we get some more Dahlia adventures in the future!

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, gaming, geek, geek culture, Humor, roleplaying, Science Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Attack the Geek: Geek Culture Gone Wild!

attackthegeekAttack the Geek, by Michael R. Underwood. Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books (2014), $2.99, ISBN: 9781476757780

Recommended for 18+

Attack the Geek is more of a New Adult read than it is a YA read, but there are plenty of pop culture, gaming, and garden variety geek references in there that will appeal to younger audiences. There’s a content heads-up for language, but it’s nothing the kids aren’t screaming at each other these days.

Attack the Geek is a side adventure to a series created by Michael R. Underwood; his previous two books, Geekomancy and Celebromancy, are available via digital download on Amazon for a very reasonable price. I haven’t read the two previous books which could be a reason why I felt off-kilter with Attack the Geek.

For any gamers out there – did you ever have a roleplaying session where one bar fight or battle took up hours of your campaign? If you know what I’m talking about, that’s how I felt while reading Attack the Geek. It’s a single combat story, with barista Ree Reyes, the heroine and protagonist of the series, and her fellow geekomancers coming under attack at Grognards, the establishment owned by Ree’s boss, Grognard. The geekomancers have the ability to channel the power of geek culture by consuming it – Ree, for instance, keeps clips from her favorite movies, like X-Men or Spider-Man, to draw upon when she needs power – and she’ll be able to shoot webs or toss people with telekinesis. There are props aplenty, including working Star Trek phasers and Star Wars lightsabers, and collectible card game cards merely need to be torn to release their  magic in this world, if channeled by the geekomancer. So when they come under attack from a Strega witch named Lucretia, it’s a hairy battle, loaded with pop culture references and witty banter.

This being a side adventure is my own issue – I am unfamiliar with the geekomancy power and these characters, so in a sense, I was at a disadvantage. But I also thought the book was trying to be too witty, throw too many references in, for its own good. The references took over the plot, and after a while, I was just reading about a battle where there was Spider-Man web slinging, Star Trek phasers, and lots of collectible card game references. This just wasn’t my book. For anyone who’s a devoted sci-fi/fantasy/gaming/comic book fan, it’s worth a shot. It’s why I requested it from NetGalley, after all, and I may read Geekomancy now just to see if having more of a background will help me better grasp the book.