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Chaotic Good

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Cameron's cosplay--dressing like a fictional character--is finally starting to earn her attention--attention she hopes to use to get into the CalTech costume department for college. But when she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans.

When Cameron's family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town--her main destination for character reference--is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother's suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she's shocked at how easily she's accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her bro Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her "secret identity" gets more and more entrenched, Cameron's portfolio falls by the wayside--and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published March 13, 2018

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About the author

Whitney Gardner

5 books264 followers
Whitney Gardner is an author, illustrator, and coffee addict. Originally from New York, she studied design and worked as an art teacher and school librarian before moving to Victoria, BC, where she lives by the Salish Sea with her husband and two pugs. In the rare moment Whitney isn’t writing or drawing, she’s likely to be reading comics, knitting, or roasting her own coffee beans.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 523 reviews
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
August 1, 2019
I have really loved both of Whitney Gardner's contemporaries so far. Both are quite different from the usual cute fluffy romances / issue books that I seem to pick up all the time. She's got a strong writing voice, fantastic concepts, and a great commitment to casual diversity. Her debut was a romance-free book about a Deaf street artist and the friendship she forms with a girl at her school. Her second novel is about a nerd girl who dresses as a boy to avoid harassment.

I have to say, I don't think I loved this quite as much as her debut. While our heroine, Cameron, is feisty and real, she doesn't have the snarky whit of Julia from You're Welcome Universe. Given that the humor was maybe my favorite part of that book, the lack of strong voice really disappointed me.

Don't worry, though; the nerdy bent of this novel made up for it. Chaotic Good is a book about being a girl and trying to interact with nerd guys, and oh man, is it unfortunately relatable. The portrayal of sexism felt so real and tangible.

I do have to say, in a book all about dressing up as a boy, I kinda wish there had been a mention of gender not being binary. You know, even a single mention. It's fairly easy to mention that kind of thing; Noteworthy by Riley Redgate did this very well just last year. But that's a fairly minor complaint.

This book was most enjoyable to me during the geeky D&D sections as all the characters hung out together. I liked seeing all the characters play off each other, and I also LOVED the D&D stories. The mixed media is really special. In fact, the comic pages brought this story from “fairly okay” to “really fun”.

That's pretty much all I have to say about this. It's clever and entertaining and short. Pick it up if you have the opportunity!!

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Profile Image for Kat.
Author 8 books353 followers
March 23, 2022
Cute and full of fandom-y moments. Cameron, who loves cosplay, is sick of being treated differently in fandom by guys because she happens to be a girl. When she goes into a comic book store, and is made fun of by the shop’s owner, she’s annoyed enough that with the help of her brother Cooper, she disguises herself as a boy the next time. All sorts of crazy nerdy fandom stuff ensues, including lots of Dungeons and Dragons and costume making. I liked the romance in this one, and the cool side characters.

Please excuse typos/name misspellings. Entered on screen reader.
Profile Image for Brooke — brooklynnnnereads.
1,004 reviews244 followers
March 20, 2018
I really enjoyed this book and it was a pleasant surprise because admittedly, I didn't think I was going to enjoy this book as much as I did.

When I first started this novel, it seemed very different to the content that I would typically read about. Although I would consider myself a fairly "nerdy" female, I don't know very much about comics, cosplay, or Dungeons and Dragons. So when all of these things were introduced, I was pretty hesitant and apprehensive about how much I would like this novel.

Plot twist, I thought this book was so good! Even though I didn't know the specifics of any of those hobbies or interests, the main point of the novel wasn't about any of that (although I did find myself becoming very interested). It was such an important novel and I related to it at such a familiar level as a female.

Along with having an important message, this story unfolded in an entertaining way. The writing style flowed and I became invested in each of the characters (even a character who I didn't necessarily enjoy in the beginning). As well, I really enjoyed the portions that were told in a comic book format.

It was an important novel about the power of being female but it was also a fun novel to read. I definitely will be looking forward to reading more from Whitney Gardner in the future.

***Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review***
Profile Image for Fafa's Book Corner.
512 reviews298 followers
April 6, 2018
Review posted on Fafa's Book Corner!

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Cyber bullying

I heard about Chaotic Good through GR. It hasn't really been that well advertised or talked about. The synopsis reminded me off Moxie which I read and thoroughly enjoyed. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

Cameron (Cam for short) and her family has just recently moved to Eugene. Cameron is a cosplayer and really wants to get into the university of her dreams. Chaotic Good begins with Cameron shopping in a comic shop where she is harassed by Brody. At some point Cameron gets a paid cosplay request. In order to make the costume properly Cameron has to make another trip to the comic shop. Although this time Cameron will go in as a boy.

I had fun reading Chaotic Good! It's written in first person in Cameron's point of view. There are chapter titles and a drawing of a dice with the chapter number. Comic strips of D and D are scattered around the book. Also there are text messages and blog posts.

I really liked all the comic references! There were so many throughout the book and it really did give the book a geeky feel. Cam's cosplay costumes were so much fun to read about! Gardner clearly did her research. From the sewing, the fabric shopping. sewing machine terminology, Cam's thimble collection, and to the costumes themselves. It was fantastic!

The D and D role playing was tons of fun! While I have heard of the game I didn't know anything about it. The characters were so vivid as was the setting. The d-dice was also fun. For some reason I really like that dice. 

There was diversity! Wyatt was black and gay. And Cam's twin brother Cooper was gay as well. Lincoln was fat. I liked how Gardner did a good job intergrating these characters into the plot without making their character arc's only about their diversity.

I really liked Cam's character! I totally understood and empathized with her plights. I liked how well done the idea and the act of courage was done for her story arc. Cam was nice and strong willed. But also had glaring flaws that were realistic. Her character arc definitely gave Moxie vibes and I was here for that.

I liked the relationship Cam had with her family! They were all supportive off each other. And some of their lines to each other were so funny. The twin aspect was done well. Cam and Cooper had nicknames for one another. I thought they were adorable!

The couples were cute! It was nice that Cam was actually attracted to a fat guy. Cooper and Wyatt also worked well together. The author also did a splendid job exploring unhealthy relationships. Cooper's ex Farrin (real name is Brian) plays a huge role in his story arc. I felt that it was necessary and not just useless drama.

Cyber bullying is a main theme throughout Chaotic Good. Cam get death threats and essentially bullied simply because she's a female cosplayer. Brody's character plays a major role in this arc. As he believes that all females are fake and only into geeky things to get attention. I liked how as a boy Cam continuously gave it to him. It is implied that Brody does improve but it's not really shown.

I do some have dislikes. For starters I think that Cam kept up the boy disguise far too long. To a point where Wyatt's feelings were hurt. I do understand why she donned the disguise but it went on for an unnecessarily long time. Cooper was selfish and annoying. It felt that he turned the boy disguise situation about himself. He was definitely right and he didn't know everything that Cam went through, but could've said it better. 

While the couples were cute it felt rushed. Chaotic Good is a small book that took place over the whole summer. I fell that maybe had it been longer that would've made a difference. Chaotic Good is supposed to be empowering for women. But I didn't get that vibe. When it comes out that Cam is a girl and that Lincoln and Cooper knew, the only person truly blamed was Cam. Wyatt was upset for a short time at Lincoln but that's it. This really grated on my nerves because I felt that it defeated the whole purpose of Chaotic Good.  

I really didn't like how Wyatt and Cooper got together. Cooper glues himself to Wyatt after it comes out that Cam is a girl. He did this to cheer up Wyatt by lending him his shoulder and to also start a relationship with him. This put a bitter taste in my mouth. I'm not saying that they shouldn't have gotten together. But I would've preferred another way for that to happen.

While I enjoyed Cam's character I kind of wished we got a story arc with Brina (Brody's crush). Brina was so brave! When she came to the comic store she didn't freeze Brody, nor did she really care what he said to her and about her. Brina would've been an interesting main character.

Also it is stated that Cam and Cooper are going to be in their last year of high school after summer. Now what I don't get it why is Cam applying for university this early? I know there are early admissions but I'm pretty sure those start later on. Could someone please clarify that in the comments? Thanks! 

Overall I enjoyed this book. I definitely recommend it to everyone. Especially if you liked Moxie.      
Profile Image for Erica.
1,331 reviews435 followers
April 17, 2020
Dear audience for whom this is intended (cosplayers, D&D players, comic book readers, nerdy young adults and people who adore YA fiction, LGBTQA+ allies, geek feminists, people who are just now becoming concerned with gender norms and violence against women, and people who do not conform to white American Christian values): Go get this book immediately. I think you will love it.

I do not love it.

I had it in my mind, from looking at the cover and doing a quick skim of the dustjacket flap, that this centered on identical twins, one of whom is trans. I thought she was getting harassed and had to battle concerns for safety vs the need to be true to herself. And while that's kinda close to what happens, it's not the actual storyline.
In this tale, Cameron, cishet female and not an identical twin, gets harassed online for posting a picture of her cosplay outfits without knowing anything about the Final Fantasy characters on whom they were based.
Readers find this out soon after meeting Cameron and watching her get harassed for being a girl in the only comic book store her new town has to offer. She and her handmade pink doughnut-print dress (it's mentioned a few times so I figured it was a character in its own right) storm out, ashamed of not standing up for herself and vowing to never return to that den of morons. But then she gets a commission for an X-Men costume and she doesn't know the character and online searches won't show his back so she needs primary resources, aka comic books, to complete the outfit. Back to the comic store for her! But if she goes in looking like a girl, she's going to be pointed to the offensive "Girl Section" and she'll be mocked and belittled and she’s already being abused enough online so she doesn’t really want to invite any further pointless criticism. But...if she cosplays as a boy...
And that's how the story starts.
She is not an identical twin who is trans, she is a fraternal twin who is being picked on by geek boys so dons boy-associated gear to pass as male. It works and she likes having the privilege being a white male in the world gives her.
That would have made for a pretty good story, exploring different levels of privilege and how that intersects with violence toward women and vulnerable groups plus the rise of MRAs, incels, and Nice Guys and of menfolk who are feminist only when it suits them. It should have also explored the role other women play in this monstrosity due to territorialism and patriarchy but that’s not what happens.

Other topics addressed: Cameron wants to apply to a design school so she has to create a portfolio in X amount of time because the submission is due next month, which her mother keeps harping on her about + Dealing with her cosplay friends who are also being cyberbullied online because of their roles in the "You don't know your character" fiasco + Her gay twin brother's asshole ex-boyfriend + Making new friends in a small town + Falling in love + Learning to play D&D.

And now I'm just going to throw spoilers out left and right so stop reading if you don't want to know all the ins and outs of this tale.


I did read it all the way to the end so it had enough staying power to get me through it and that’s worth a star, I suppose. Actually, I'll give it 1.5 stars and I wish the rest of you readers the best. I think many of you are going to go nuts over this book. Those who don't, you can join me here.
Profile Image for Kelli O'Malley.
5 reviews1 follower
October 13, 2017
I wanted to love this book so badly. When I picked it up, I finished reading it within a day. It started off so strong, the characters were solid, likeable, and real. The story was familiar and so true to life. But what killed this book for me was the ending. Not only did the writing quality go down hill in the last half of the book, but the ending itself felt like a slap in the face.
I think I had such a visceral reaction because I saw myself in this book. I saw a geeky lonely girl who desperately wanted to be herself. But the author's message made me so angry. I won't share spoilers here, but are you interested scroll lower to hear my specific reasons why. I thought I was crazy for not liking this book. But I have spoken with several others who disliked the book for the same reasons I did. I will not be recommending this book to anyone. Nor will I hide my opinion for it.


WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD:




I think my biggest complaint with the novel, is the fact that Cameron, the main female character, is shunned and has to APPOLOGIZE when she is discovered to actually be a girl. I'm sorry, that's such a weak story plot. She was being threatened, doxxed, and harassed but its her fault? Several of the male characters know of this harassment, but she lied about being a boy and suddenly she can't be trusted? That makes no sense. She also never gets to be angry. She doesn't get mad at her brother for blowing her off because he's a total petty asshat. She doesn't tell Brody to get over himself for being a slime-ball of fragile masculinity. She doesn't rip Lincoln a new one for KNOWING about her abuse and still dumping her anyways. WHERE IS HER ANGER? Why does she apologize? Why does she not cut her losses and hang out with people who aren't complete blithering idiots?

Can we talk about her brother for a second? Why on this green earth couldn't Cooper ask out Why once Cam indicated she wasn't interested? The whole "he has to know you're a girl" is CRAP. What difference does that make? SHE HAD ALREADY SAID NO! It shouldn't have mattered.

There's more, but I'm done. I'm so mad at this book, it literally doesn't deserve the time I'm giving it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
September 16, 2022
I wrote a discussion review of this fantastic book with Mishma last year, and because I've gotten so bad at this blogging thing, never got around to writing a proper review for this book, myself. I need to rectify this, soon.

I will say this for now: Chaotic Good is funny, wholesome and filled with heart. Whitney Gardner writes in an honest, passionate voice that leaps off the page and demands you to feel right along with Cameron. It was, somehow, even better the second time around.

---

18/06/17

I had the honor of being given the chance to read this book ridiculously early, and let me tell you, I loved every minute of this.

Chaotic Good is charming, touching, incredibly real - it's everything this Chaotic Good nerd girl ever wanted. Put this on your TBRs, guys. I promise you won't regret it.

review to come closer to the release date, which is about how long it'll take me to get a handle on my emotions
Profile Image for Laura (bbliophile).
791 reviews155 followers
October 29, 2017
I really enjoyed how cute, feminist and nerdy this was, but I'm very disappointed that in a book about cross-dressing, there's not one mention of non-binary people. Nothing. Full review to come.
Profile Image for Abi (The Knights Who Say Book).
628 reviews94 followers
February 15, 2018
*I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

My two impressions of this book:

1. Wow! So cute and feminist and fun!

2. Holy prolonged drama, Batman! I can say that without knowing anything about Batman, because this book is about being allowed to enjoy comics however you choose to, dammit.

Let's go in order.

Cute and feminist and fun? So good. I love that Cameron's a cosplayer and that costume design is an important part of the book. It's really fun to read about. The love interest is really sweet and so is the romance by extension. Looking back I think the whole part of the book where Cam is becoming part of this group of guys while pretending to be one went a little fast, and making that part more developed could have raised the stakes on her eventually having to explain she's a girl. But there are other things going on in the book, so I can let it slide.

Cam is also struggling with internet hate as her cosplay blog attracts tons of douchebros angry that she's a "fake geek", which intersects with this guy in real life who is condescending to every girl who walks into the comics shop. Everything coming down on her for daring to be a girl at once is what makes her feel safer pretending to be a boy, and is the driving force behind the real point of the book: Cam regaining her confidence even as jerks across the internet do their best to make her feel worthless.

In my opinion, the book does best when it's leaning on the cute romance, the sibling relationship (which is also great), or Cam reconciling her feminist ire with the fact that she doesn't feel safe anymore and then finding her confidence again.

When the book doesn't do well? That's when it's forcing the drama to outlast when it should have ended. And look, I get it: the book needs a plot. That's a thing books need. But the solution to your plot running out too soon are not thin excuses that get the job of expanding the plot done — at that point you need to go back to the drawing board and reconfigure the pacing of the book so the plot lasts as long as it has to. For me, I reached a point of frustration at 70% of the book where I stopped buying the characters's reasoning for why misunderstandings hadn't been clear up.

That doesn't mean everything after 70% was bad. There were still plenty of things I enjoyed, and a lot of the emotional scenes after that point still hit me hard, although frustration sometimes hit me harder. I still really enjoyed this. I'm so here for Squirrel Girl cosplay and scrabble with made up words and D&D romance.
Profile Image for Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd).
1,174 reviews253 followers
June 16, 2018
“Chaotic good ones place a high value on free will: they always intend to do the right thing, even if their methods are haphazard and generally out of sync with the rest of society.”
Such a fun book!!!! I didn’t love You’re Welcome Universe when I read it last year, but Choatic Good is one of the best fandomy contemporaries I’ve read recently! We follow Cameron, an aspiring costume designer, who loves cosplaying comic characters. Cameron decides to dress up as her brother and join a local Dungeon & Dragons campaign with a few of the guys who work at the local comic shop. Cameron must battle enraged and awful male fans online and in person as she fights for a space for herself and the right to enjoy what she loves.

Things I Liked
I am immediately drawn to a book if there’s a focus on sibling relationships. Especially if there’s a twin relationship. So I LOVED seeing Cameron and Cooper be perfect siblings. They did fight and I did get pissed at Cooper a few times, but their relationship was just so real that I loved it.

As someone who’s not a gamer in any way, I really loved listening to the D&D campaign. Lincoln weaved such a captivating tale that it was so easy to fall into. And I always love a bit of a story-within-a-story. The comic pages and illustrations were really fun as well!

The romance was absolutely adorable and a few favorite toothachingly- sweet YA couple. Lincoln and Cameron were so pure and respectful and I ship them 5ever.

Things I Didn’t Like
Brody is such a gross annoying “nice guy” dudebro. He’s one of those awful male gatekeeper fans who think girls can’t like anything but rainbows and sprinkles. There really wasn’t anything redeeming about him at all.

I really bugged me that for Cameron’s portfolio, she was using the Dungeon & Dragon characters from the game because they were not original characters. Lincoln, Why, and Brody’s characters are all established. She didn’t create them; she just dressed them.

Chaotic Good was such an enjoyable read that I couldn’t put it down. I read the whole thing in one sitting and was completely captivated by Cameron’s journey. I highly recommend this for summer - you won’t be disappointed
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,435 reviews234 followers
March 5, 2018
Fandoms and the Internet can get a girl down, but it might be ok, when she has a great group of people to support her. #pinzhasaposse.

Loved so many things about this one. Loved the art, the story, the characters, the D&D, and so much more.
===========================================================================

The title of this book is a nod to a common character trope. Gardner explains:
Chaotic good ones place a high value on free will: they always intend to do the right thing, even if their methods are haphazard and generally out of sync with the rest of society.

When Cameron finds herself the target of Internet ire and crosses paths with condescending mansplainer, Brody, she decides to assume the role of a chaotic good character, by masquerading as a boy, in order to prove a point to Brody. However, problems arise when she lets the rouse go on for too long, and she may have woven a web of lies too big to escape.

I really enjoyed this nerdy and rather feminist story.

Cameron was an engaging protagonist, who embodied many chaotic good qualities. She was big hearted and often had good intentions, but didn't always make the best decisions. She was riddled with guilt over hiding her identity, and started to lose herself a little. What I will say, is that she learned from her mistakes and grew a lot over the course of the story.

I felt so bad for Cameron when the Internet attacked. I have never been big on fandoms, and one of the reasons is the negative experiences I have had with members of some fandoms. It's good to be passionate, but some people take it too far, and that is exactly what happened to Cameron in this story. My heart went out to Cam as she tried to battle back against the attacks, but the whole time, I wished she had asked for help or even just support, because she had some fantastic people in her corner.

Gardner assembled such a wonderful supporting cast, and I adored getting to know each and every one of them. I loved Why and all his nerdtasticness, Lincoln and his smooth storytelling skills, and Nana Dotty, who was just so fabulous and a true champion for Cam. Well, that and I have a soft spot for incredible grandmas.

I was really impressed with some of the choices Gardner made for her characters. For instance, Cam's parents were "later in life" parents. I wouldn't say you rarely see almost 60 year old parents in most YA and it was an welcome change. I also loved that the romantic interest was geeky and DID NOT have washboard abs. In fact, Cameron describes him as "soft". I love this, because in reality, not everyone has washboard abs, and it's nice to see some "average" people featured in stories.

Speaking of the love interest, I was all over this romance. The two were very sweet together, and the way Gardner wrote about Cam's attraction was so adorable and believable. She also incorporated the concept of consent into one of their make-out sessions, which I think we need to see more in books, as it's relevant and important in today's society.

As far as the story goes, I enjoyed being a part of Cam's creative process. My daughter's undergraduate degree is in costume design, so it's a world I am familiar with, and always in awe of. But I had the most fun during the D&D campaigns. I would not say I was a big D&D player, but it was huge when I was teen, and therefore, I dabbled a little. This was a fun walk down memory lane, and I totally found myself engrossed in those segments of the story. Lincoln's storytelling was fabulous, but then Gardner added these amazing illustrations that just elevated it even more.

This book was stuffed with nerdy fun, a strong family focus, and great characters, which amused and entertained me, but also gave me many things to think about with respect to some of the issues exclusive to women.
My name is Cameron Birch. I'm a level 17 Chaotic Good human being.


*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for laurel [the suspected bibliophile].
1,420 reviews391 followers
March 4, 2018
Holy guacamole.

description

Guys.

Guys

GUYS.

This book is the shit. It reminded me a lot of Eliza and Her Monsters and Fangirl.

I totally felt Cameron and her struggles as a girl-nerd living in a nerdom ruled by boys, most of whom resemble something that lives underneath a slimy bridge...or deep in a parent's basement. This book explores the differing levels of fandom—from cosplay to playing to delving into the storyline or whatever—and what it means to be an authentic nerd. And how girls are always have to work 3 times as hard to prove themselves and ooops, get one incredibly obscure question wrong and you're a poser! On top of all of that, there's the condescendingly male gaze when you enter a comic book store, aka, the sanctuary of maleness in some places.

And Cameron deals with all of that and more, as she creates cosplay but doesn't follow the storylines. She loves the costumes, the characters, and creating. After being degraded in the only comic book store in her new town, she decides to cosplay—as a boy—to make it easier to get costuming ideas. And it's easy. So easy that she makes friends. Guy friends. And starts playing in a D&D game with her brother. And a cute boy. A boy who thinks she's cute (as a boy). And the misogynistic troll who treated her like crap as a girl. As Cameron gets sucked deeper and deeper into her lie, the internet nerdlodytes are on the attack—spamming her blog with hate mail, flooding her inbox with dick pics, and then calling her phone.

It's almost too much to take—but Cameron has a dream. She has ambition. And she'll let nothing stop her.

Okay...and the story is set in Eugene, Oregon!!!!!!! Oh. My. Goodness. This is the second Oregon book I've unintentionally read in a row. And both—I repeat—BOTH are set outside of Portland! I am totally fangirling over the location because I don't think I've ever read a YA set in Eugene, Oregon, before. Bonus: same high school as mine
Profile Image for Yvonne Olson.
764 reviews14 followers
January 23, 2018
Oh, I definitely needed this book in my life.
I remember being at work about a month ago, looking over the Kirkus reviews and seeing Chaotic Good. The first reaction I had was "Oh, that's so cool!" because I had never seen a DnD inspired contemporary. My second reaction is "I want to read this so bad." I immediately crossed my fingers and hoped it would be on Netgalley. To my delight, it was - and I got a galley!

I think I read this book in 3 hours, I enjoyed it that much. I think everyone has been able to relate to this before: moving to a new town, losing all your friends, and struggling to make new ones. Another layer to Cameron's stress is that she's getting a lot of hate online as people bash her passion and call her a fake geek because of her gender, and the first person she meets has the same outlook. She struggles with her identity and relationships strain because of this.
As a girl, she never would have been invited to join a local DnD group, but when she shops dressed as a boy, she's treated with respect and gains friendships (one with the very boy who talked down to her.) The longer she waits to tell them she's a girl, the harder it is.

I seriously cannot wait to own this book, you guys. It's going to be one I tell everyone to read (especially my DnD group... get ready, guys!)
Profile Image for Meg Eden.
Author 19 books73 followers
July 6, 2017
ALL OF THE STARS.

Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner takes a unique and raw angle at both the joys and problems of being in the nerd community, particularly as a female. It follows Cameron, a cosplay seamstress and rising D&D player as she moves to a new town and tries to find her bearings in both in-person and online conflicts. The integration of comics is amazing, and really helps clarify what is D&D storyline and what is Cameron’s everyday storyline. I enjoyed the references to comic, gaming and anime culture, and really identified with Cameron’s struggles to respond to online trolling and sexism in her local comic book store. The idea of the “nerd girl test��� and constantly trying to prove one’s self as a female in the nerd community is incredibly relatable and honest, and I don’t think I’ve really heard anyone write about it before. It was relieving to hear that I’m not the only one who’s experienced that, and wish this book had been around when I was a teen! Chaotic Good is a powerful and encouraging must-read for nerds and non-nerds alike.

-Meg Eden, author of Post-High School Reality Quest
Profile Image for Jaye Berry.
1,350 reviews123 followers
September 9, 2019
What is this, the month of me reading books that I already knew I wouldn't like? I need to be stopped.

Chaotic Good is about a girl named Cameron who is into cosplay and making costumes. One day after getting gatekeeped by some dudebro at her local comic store, she decides to dress as a boy and then ends up joining their D&D group and things get carried away.

I'm not just a clown, I'm the whole circus. I do not like books about fandom/nerd culture and constant pop culture references. This one didn't drop as many pop culture references back and forth but most of this book is the characters playing Dungeons and Dragons and talking about cosplay (along with all the ~nice guy~ rage comments at Cameron for being a fake nerd girl). I've never played D&D and reading about people playing it every other page was another level of "oh god can we please move ON". It was just so annoying and I really didn't care for it.

This book drops some important tea about gross men online and their toxic behavior toward women and while that was good, it was a lot of getting hit on the head with it. Cameron was such a passive character too who didn't have enough emotion about the mistreatment she was getting online. Get mad! Go wild! Delete all your shit! Don't just sit there, reading their comments and crying??

While her reasoning to dress as a boy the one time made sense, to keep it going was weak and when people eventually find out the truth and get mad at her, Cameron mostly just takes it because she's the asshole I guess. Reading the comments she was getting made ME angry to the point where I couldn't believe she didn't respond the same way. But that's just me being tired of bullshit and not wanting to take it. (Those boys were stupid I don't get why she still wanted to be friends with them.)

Otherwise it was cute enough and a fast read but try as I might, I have nothing else to say about this book besides it wasn't for me and I should have just skipped it.
Profile Image for Cody Roecker.
816 reviews
July 17, 2017
I've decided that Whitney Gardner's novels are perfectly my style.

This book is wholesomely nerdy. Dungeons & Dragons and Cosplay. It's the most beautifully nerdy thing I've read in a long time.

the art reminded me of Noelle Stevenson's NIMONA, and the story inside matched the heart of it all. I absolutely loved Cam, her grit, her love for costume making.

Cam is one of those girls that is determined and committed to anything she does. and I loved that about her.

I loved loved loved her twin Cooper and really felt for him. My favorite little gay boy. <3

and I loved Why even more.

Lincoln was the purest boy who I also loved to death.

I loved everything about this book.

If I had to officially blurb it it would say this:

"A nerdy feminist tale perfect for fans of NIMONA. With queer side characters, CHAOTIC GOOD shines in more ways than one. Filled with heart, humor, and nerdy goodness- CHAOTIC GOOD will carefully open your heart and sew it back together with the characters inside. Unforgettable, lovable, and just so fun. You need this in your life."
Profile Image for Amber Scaife.
1,123 reviews9 followers
April 25, 2021
Cameron and her twin brother, Cooper, are adjusting to life in smaller-and-more-backwoodsy-than-Portland Eugene, so when Cameron walks into the local comic shop looking for inspiration for her next cosplay costume, she is horrified at how the dude-bro behind the counter mistreats her as just a girl trying and failing to be a True Geek. She's suffering from massive troll attacks on her blog for her recent win at a con with her amazing cosplay designs and this is the last straw. So she has Cooper help her transform with the ultimate cosplay: into a boy. And the transformation opens up so many doors for her, including one into a fun D&D group at that same comic shop, with a completely dreamy DM. But keeping the secret will of course mean trouble down the line and Cameron needs to find the confidence and strength to be proud of her abilities *and* her gender.

This book is a perfect storm of all things I love: Shakespearean nods, comfortably predictable yet still well written YA romance, a main character who can sew amazing cosplay, excellent and totally loveable characters with wonderfully happy-making and believable interactions and relationships, and a fun D&D side story. If any of that is your jam, you *need* to read this book.
Profile Image for Jamie (Books and Ladders).
1,336 reviews190 followers
September 2, 2018
See this review and more on Books and Ladders!

Actual Rating: 4.5*

I loved this so so much. The opening pages are things that have actually stopped me from participating in certain geek things. It was so nice to have my story told. I thought the ending was a little too easy but I loved every second of this entire book. Definitely a must read if you are sick of being called a fake geek girl.
Profile Image for Hilda.
1,086 reviews133 followers
October 15, 2018
This was ridiculously cute and full of so much comic books and nerdy homage!! I loved it from start to finish. Even towards the end when the shit hit the fan. I was so invested emotionally. I needed her to succeed and overcome. I loved Cameron so much. But what really stole the show for me was the emotional connection with all the characters. I loved the relationship between the twins and their parents. The connection to each other. There’s this part at the end where Cameron and Cooper take a nap together in her tiny twin bed and it was the most beautiful thing ever. It was sweet and wholesome and something loved ones do. And I loved how innocent and pure it was. I used to take naps with my dad when I was younger. If he ever took a nap I’d find him and lay next to him and just love those naps more than anything in the world. Once I became a teenager they stopped. Not because I was embarrassed but because I didn’t have time for naps. I still loved them and he was still my daddy. I missed them so much as I got older. Then he got sick and he was stuck in bed (and I’m crying...jeez). Anyways, he got sick and took lots of naps I started taking naps with him again and for that small moment everything seemed better. I was finally able to sleep and forget he was dying for a moment. How did I make this about me? That’s talent. Jeez. What I’m trying to say is that I loved that scene where the twins take naps together.

The other characters where just as interesting. Why/Wyatt, this name change did not upset me. I thought it was funny and cute and so Why. Lincoln and his nan Dotty!! Even Brody grew on me!! I know! It was totally unexpected and crazy for me too. No, but seriously. When Cam and Brody have that talk about how he treats women that shop at the comic book store and he tells her it’s becaue he doesn’t know how to talk to girls he semeed so small and lost. It made me wonder if he had a positive male adult around. It’s like he didn’t know how to be a man and was mimicking the stereotypes he saw on tv. I felt a little bad for him. Not fully, but enough to like him (a little). These characters were so well developed and meshed so well together. I loved each and everyone of them especially Cameron. She was brilliant. I wish more stories talked about these issues like this. We need these books so much in a world full of hate. It’s also the perfect platform to get teenagers talking about these issues. We need male feminist. We need supporters and believers to work alongside women. We need kids to talk about online bullying. Girls need to stop thinking their problems bother people and are not important enough. Open communication is hard and when someone is hurting you it becomes a dirty secret. Every high school library needs to have a copy of this book! The conversations that could start after reading this story are endless.

Seriously, pick this book up! Read it. Love it. You’re welcome.
Profile Image for Karissa.
3,916 reviews192 followers
January 22, 2018
I got a copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. This was a fun and cute read. It is mostly about coming of age and a girl trying to be comfortable with who she is in the geek culture world. There is also a lot about internet trolls harassing her and how poorly some men treat women that they think are invading their geek culture turf.

I loved some of the relationship twists and turns and loved the DnD references even more. The sections of DnD story are done in graphic novel style, which was fun. I did feel like some of the transitions between story and graphic novel were pretty jerky; it actually felt like some pages were missing or something.

I actually wish that there has been more geek culture references, DnD, and discussions about Cameron's designing costumes and less of the relationship stuff. However it was still well done and fun. Being a geek girl myself it was easy to relate to the story.

I have definitely had some similar issues to our heroine. I remember being a comic book store once looking at Berserk manga and being told that I should come and check out the Fables graphic novels because girls like those (don't get me wrong I did like Fables but I felt a little put out that the guy redirecting me thought Berserks were too violent for a girl...I love me those Berserk manga!).

I also had an issue once when a neighbor guy came over while I was playing Dynasty Warriors and asked if my husband was okay with me playing that and if my husband helped me get through the tough parts. I was like "Heck, no" my husband does not need to help me get through "tough parts"...geez dude get a life. Then there are the strange looks as I get in the epic fantasy section or graphic novel section at book stores; admittedly I don't get those nearly as much now as I did 20 years ago but it is funny how a subset of guys care about these silly things and make you feel guilty somehow for liking what you like.

Overall I enjoyed this book; it was a fun and quick read. I would recommend to girl geeks out there who like contemporary romance YA books.
Profile Image for Anna.
161 reviews63 followers
August 2, 2018
This was lovely. Despite how most of us are aware of sexism in our modern society, this was the first time I ever truly witnessed from a male point of view how much power men truly command over women, even when not being openly sexist. Chaotic Good was like She's the Man... only so much better. I don't play D&D, sew, or cosplay, but that didn't stop me from falling in love with Cameron's story & the band of friends she finds herself falling into.
Profile Image for Brie.
Author 16 books101 followers
April 27, 2016
Delightful and awesome! These characters are so touching, their stories so sweet and real, my heart skipped a beat when I finished and then fell when I realized it was over. More to come closer to release date, but put this one on your TBR stat, you won't regret it.
September 13, 2018
3.5 Stars - I'd love to see more young adult / fiction novels that feature geek culture, Dungeons & Dragons, and cosplay! However, this was a bit heavy handed on the "men are sexist pigs" narrative. Thankfully, my experience in this nerdy realm has been extremely positive and I'm hoping most other women haven't had to deal with anything close to the level of hatred showcased here. Besides that point, this was a fun ride and an adorable love story. I'd love to find more books like it!
Profile Image for Jamie Winter.
30 reviews
December 3, 2017
In the aftermath of Gamergate and the havoc wrecked on geek girls on the internet comes a young adult contemporary about a female cosplayer finding herself the target of online hate. Cameron is an aspiring costume designer who wants nothing more than to make the fantastical costumes for all things nerdy. When a slip of the tongue throws her into a debate on ‘fake geek girls’ and judgment from the local comic shop manager Cameron and her twin brother come up with classic Twelfth Night scheme of dressing Cameron as a boy so she can buy comics in peace. Her convincing portrayal gets her roped into a Dungeons and Dragons campaign with the comic shop employees and a comedy of errors ensues. Chaotic Good is a delightful story about the side effects of being a girl in a nerdy world and characterized by roleplay games, cosplay, and the epitome of a geeky love interest. To say I enjoyed this book is a major understatement. I devoured this book with a huge smile on my face due to all of the wonderful nerd cred and honest discussion about the persistent difficulty of being a geek girl. I can’t recommend this book enough and will probably be preaching it’s perfection til the day I die. I fucking loved every minute of it.
Profile Image for Kate Olson.
2,194 reviews724 followers
March 12, 2018
@knopfteen #partner • When I heard this March 13th title is about a teen who designs and sews, I was instantly interested! And then I started reading and realized it’s about SO MUCH MORE than that. There are comics and cosplay and Dungeons and Dragons and bloggers and internet haters.....oh yeah, and some fabulous sewing scenes as well!

Given my lack of background knowledge about any of the cosplay and D & D stuff, I won’t attempt to “review” those. I loved the sewing and design aspects and the messages of overcoming evil people online. I also appreciated Cameron struggling to become a stronger feminist figure ~ she is definitely flawed and drove me a little crazy at times, but she’s a teen and we are ALL flawed! The story overall is entertaining and definitely fills a niche in the YA market.....and will appeal to adult readers who are interested in all of the above as well.
Profile Image for Jamie-leigh Haughn.
168 reviews836 followers
June 4, 2018
If you love all thing geeky/nerdy then you are going to LOVE this book! This book gave me so many She's The Man vibes, I can't even express how happy that made me!

This story follows Cam, a young fashionista who designs costumes for cosplay, in her attempt to create a new look and a new life for herself in a new town. She feels that she isn't taken seriously in the comic book world as a woman and decides to dress up as a boy to get better insight into a world she so wants to be a part of. The story covers friendship and love and insecurity and bullying, it has a little bit of everything while still remaining light and fun.

Definitely give this book a read if you're looking for a quick contemporary with geeky feel!
Profile Image for Kristi.
144 reviews21 followers
July 10, 2018
This was enjoyable, and I'm always up for more books about teens playing Dungeons and Dragons. I didn't feel like it was as good as Gardner's debut, though, nor was it as good of a take on a girl crossdressing to fit in with a group of boys as Noteworthy by Riley Redgate was. That book did a better job of examining the motives of its main character and reflecting on the difference between a cis girl trying on a male role for ulterior motives, and the reality lived by someone who is trans or nonbinary.
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