Wealhtheow's Reviews > Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd

Geektastic by Holly Black
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Apr 25, 10

bookshelves: pocmaincharacters, sci-fi, ya, fantasy, queer-characters
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: Trin
Read on April 01, 2010

Like most collections, this has its good stories and its bad.

It begins with the punchy "Once You're a Jedi, You're a Jedi All the Way," a really enjoyable piece by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci. I loved it because it was both about geekery (Klingons vs Jedi, the ideas of the purpose behind anger and gender in Star Wars vs Star Trek) and about being a young adult geek. It felt fresh and imaginative, and not only did I like the main characters, but I got a good feel for them, too.

The cartoons by Bryan Lee O'Malley, Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci are funny and cute, and are a great divider between each story.
Sadly, the next few aren't so good.

In Tracy Lynn's "One of Us," a cheerleader pays a group of geeks to teach her how to appreciate her boyfriend's geeky pursuits. Completely reliant upon stereotypes, with a very cliched "teen movie" sort of plot.

Surprisingly, Scott Westerfeld's "Definitional Chaos" is probably the weakest of the bunch. 20 pages of breaking down the very basic differences between alignments. The characters are completely unbelievable--I couldn't figure out what age they were supposed to be, let alone anything else about them.

Cassandra Clare's "I Never," about two girls who go to a meetup for their internet rping group, is pretty banal. I didn't like the characters, but the basic story is good.

"The King of Pelinesse" by M.T. Anderson is really well written, but not to my taste. A teenager in the 1940s/50s(?) finds out that his favorite author has been having an affair with his mom. An interesting insight into pulp fantasy novels and a long-gone historical period.
I liked "The Wrath of Dawn," by the Leitich Smiths. I got a real feel for the characters and their problems.

I also really liked "Quiz Bowl Antichrist" by David Levithan, about the inner works of a quiz bowl team. I found this to be the most important story of the collection, the one I wish more geeks would read and understand. The difference between snark and humor, the anger underpinning sarcasm, the relative importance of trivia, and owning up to one's own identity as a geek.

Garth Nix's "The Quiet Knight" is a short, sweet little tale about using lessons from role-playing in "real life". As someone who learned most of my social skills and confidence from LARPing, I really liked this.

"Everyone But You" by Lisa Yee is about a poor pep squad girl from Ohio who moves to Hawai'i, where she finds that everything that made her cool now makes her mockable.

"Secret Identity" by Kelly Link is terrible and inexplicable and seems to go on forever.

"Freak the Geek" by John Green, contains some really great moments that read very true to me. To whit: "No one would think of me as pretty at Hoover. Being pretty here involves so much more than just being pretty, and frankly I don't have time for it." and the fights between the geeks about whose fault it is that they're being targeted.

"The Truth About Dino Girl" by Barry Lyga is terrible terrible terrible. And here is why. Because I really liked the first thirty pages, about a girl whose love of dinosaurs is matched only by her crush on a popular boy. I liked the girl, I liked her inner monologue and her smarts and her lack of social graces. But then, she decides to get even. And she does it by pasting pictures of her nemesis everywhere, with "DO YOU LIKE SEX? SHE DOES!!! TRUST ME--SHE LOVES IT!!! I KNOW FROM EXPERIENCE--COUNTLESS TIMES!!!" written underneath. And the girl's life is ruined, because everyone thinks she's a slut. hahah! Such a fabulous revenge, right? I mean, there's pretty much nothing better than slut-shaming! And now the geek girl has her revenge and social confidence! Yay! And by "yay" I mean I want to vomit with rage.

There is no reason to read "This is My Audition Monologue" by Sara Zarr.

"The Stars at the Finish Line" by Wendy Mass is a really sweet story about two kids who have been rivals for years, because they each want to be an astronaut, and to be an astronaut you have to be the best.

Libba Bray's "It's Just a Jump to the Left," is about Rocky Horror fans and that uncomfortable period between playing with dolls and understanding sex jokes.
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message 1: by J. (new)

J. I had the same massively negative reaction to the end of that Barry Lyga story, coupled with a large amount of bafflement and surprise that it ended that way. Because 1) there was nothing in the early part of the story to indicate the main character would see that as a satisfying "revenge", 2) though I haven't read it, by most reports Lyga's novel Boy Toy is a smart, nuanced account of the sexual abuse of a 7th grade boy by a female teacher, and I assume anyone who writes smart books about abuse would be a deeper thinker about sexuality than the end of this story indicates, and 3) I just can't believe the editors let him do that. I can't imagine anyone even passingly acquainted with modern feminist discussion would see that as a happy, satisfying ending (which it is, I think quite clearly, meant to be), and even if Lyga somehow missed it, someone in the line of readers has to have pointed it out.

Really liked the John Green and Holly Black/Cecil Castellucci stories, though...


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