What: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
Who: Swoon Reads
When: April 26th 2017
How: A copy of this novel was provided by Pan Macmillan Australia for review.
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.
Queens of Geek was, in one word, cute. If you’re looking for a light, fun, and quick contemporary YA novel with diverse characters then Queens of Geek is definitely for you.
One of the things I liked most about Queens of Geek was the fact that it was set at a pop culture convention. I was at one of those about two weeks ago, and I go to roughly three of them a year. Cons are a big part of my life – something that makes me happy, makes me feel accepted without judgement, and they’re just fun. So I loved reading about characters who feel the same way I do about cons. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where a character attends one, let alone a whole book set at one so this element was lovely to read about.
I probably related a bit more to Taylor than I did to Charlie, simply because I don’t vlog, and I’m not famous (which Charlie is). I could relate to Taylor because she’s absolutely obsessed with a series of books – Firestone – and is mainly at the con to meet the author. I could totally understand the way she talked about the books and the movies, the way they helped her become who she is and were a comfort and rock during hard times. Even though her anxiety presented itself in different ways to mine, I could empathise a lot with the emotions she felt – even when they went against what she wanted to do.
I really liked Taylor’s romance with Jamie because it’s friends to lovers, which is one of my favourite romance tropes. I loved how Jamie never made Taylor feel ridiculous or inadequate because of her feelings, and that he was so respectful of her, her body, and her decisions. He was just an all ‘round sweetheart, really, and I think it’s important to have boys like this in YA so that readers know what a loving, supportive partner looks like.
Charlie was a difficult character for me to love. I feel like she counted herself as a really awesome friend to Taylor, but actually spent about five minutes with her through the entire book because she kept blowing her off to spend time with her crush, Alyssa. I get that she wanted to spend time with Alyssa, but I also wanted to read more about Charlie and Taylor’s best friendship because it seemed liked it was going to be such a big part of the book, and it wasn’t.
The fact that Charlie recognised her faults was amazing. At one point in the book, she partakes in some slut shaming, but then straight away she realises what a shitty thing that is to do. I would have preferred it to not have been in there at all (I despise slut shaming), but the fact that it was actually addressed as something that’s problematic, harmful, and wrong was a positive side to it.
Charlie’s romance with Alyssa was adorable. Especially because it’s f/f and also interracial (Charlie is Chinese Australian and Alyssa is black). It probably moved a little too quickly for me to fully invest in it, but I loved that they were open with each other, and that Alyssa understood Charlie’s feelings about how having a new relationship could affect her career (a lot of her original popularity came because of her relationship with her boyfriend), but also wasn’t willing to hide her sexuality because of it. I loved how they talked about their pasts, and their relationships, and their sexualities. These conversations made them a lot more fleshed out.
Overall, I really liked Queens of Geek, but it just didn’t quite hit the mark for me. The emotion wasn’t really there, and there were some moments when the conversations and scenes felt a little stilted. I will still recommend it, however, because there were a lot of things to like about it, and it’s also super diverse (including #ownvoices autistic rep with Taylor’s character, and bisexual rep with Charlie’s).
© 2017, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.
trigger warnings: ableism, bi erasure, biphobia, reference to bullying, reference to romantic cheating, use of ableist language, anxiety, panic attack, sexism, racism, slut shaming, and fat shaming in this novel