Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde – review

 

queens of geek

Blurb from Goodreads:

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 is perhaps the most adorable book I’ve read in years!!! It was just too cute! Honestly, if you want to read a sweet, simply written, incredibly diverse book about romance and healing at a fantastically geeky convention then look no further. I did have a few issues with it, and these did drop the rating, but the book doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is always refreshing.

Jen Wilde has tackled important topics such autism, and anxiety disorder, without making them seem life ruining or completely tragic and hopeless. The story is told from alternating POV’s; Taylor, Tumblr famous in the ‘Queen Firestone’ fandom, and cosplayer extraordinaire. And Charlie, a pink haired, bi, Asian-Australian YouTuber, rising to fame after staring in a wildly successful dystopian film. Both are accompanied by their kind and funny, Latinx best friend Jamie.

I’m going to break my normal conventions and start with what I didn’t like, so that I can end this review positively, because despite its flaws, I did enjoy this book.

Firstly I have to say that there are only so many references to popular culture that you can make, as you always run the risk of your audience not being in on the joke, especially if your readers aren’t American/tuned in to Western culture. Now, I live in London and consider myself quite up to date with such things, but there were a few references that even I didn’t get, and which threw me out of the novel.

At times the dialogue felt a little stilted and forced, and I did find myself rolling my eyes sometimes, because there’s no way people actually speak like that, right? I’m fairly certain that they don’t, and again, my incredulity at some of things said (especially by Taylor) caused my focus to be pulled from the story.

Sadly, I couldn’t really connect with the characters. This doesn’t mean I don’t respect them, or like them, I just felt they were a bit flat, even though on paper they seem very multi-faceted and interesting, it didn’t really translate into the novel. I should’ve felt some sort of relatable factor towards Taylor or Charlie. Like Taylor I am deeply entrenched in fandom, and would love to go to a convention as cool sounding as SupaCan, and also have, and am currently dealing with an anxiety disorder…  but I couldn’t see myself in her or relate to her much, with the exception of a few scenes about the way anxiety affected her every day life. Charlie is POC and bisexual, like me, so surely there should have been some spark of recognition, or oh! I can relate to that! moment. Unfortunately not 😦 .

It was also very hard to enjoy Taylor’s chapters as she cried and whined in most of them… I know that she’s very anxious and autistic, so the world can get a bit much… but it was very hard to take her seriously, and started to carry less and less weight when it occurred every chapter. Also a few of her Tumblr posts that were included after most major events in the book were slightly cringey, I found! Especially as I am someone who is very active on Tumblr and posts frequently. She came across as someone who would annoy me quite a lot if I happened upon her blog, though this is purely a matter of personal preference.

Strangely, there really wasn’t much of a plot either… It was mainly centred around the two romances, and the resolutions of both of these, which wasn’t quite enough for me, but again, I feel like that’s a matter of personal preference, and also don’t really know what else could have been included to flesh it out a bit more.

With that negativity out of the way, there are lots of things I did like about this novel! The setting was really cool. SupaCon seemed genuinely awesome, and Wilde did make the atmosphere very believable and extremely exciting and hyped. She also built the romances very well! One of my favourite moments of the book, was when Alyssa Huntington, YouTube megastar and Charlie’s long time crush, was talking about her passion for science, and how meeting a successful black scientist as a young girl helped to spark an interest and present a career in science as a viable option for her.

The representation was also obviously a massive plus, as was the celebration of fan culture as a wholesome, positive experience, without the stigma of ‘weirdness’ or ‘freakiness’ that is so often attached to it.

Like I said before, if you’re looking for a quick, cute read, then this is for you, but prepare to do a bit of skim reading, especially if you prefer books with a bit more a of a substantial plot.

rating: ★★★.5 (3.5 stars)

have any of you guys read Queens of Geek? How did you find it? Whether you agree or disagree with me, don’t be afraid to let me know what you thought in the comments!

esmie xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour – review

 

we are okay.jpg

blurb from goodreads:

You go through life thinking there’s so much you need… Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother. Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.”

 

This book is about a girl called Marin who lives with her grandfather in a house by the beach.

This book is about a girl called Marin who lives in a motel all alone and whispers herself to sleep every night through tears.

It is also a book about a girl called Marin who lives in a dorm room at NYU and isn’t not present in her own life so much as she is vacant from it.

It was definitely. Something. I don’t really know how else to describe it.

It’s lonely and sad and so, so melancholy, but it is also hopeful and whimsical and nostalgic.

The story is told in a sort of non-linear way that is only really rewarding if you get to the end. I did find myself slightly frustrated at how vague it all was, but as it is a short novel (only 234 pages long – I read it on a lengthy train journey) the frustration is short lived. The ending, I would say, is very satisfying and kind of perfect.

(yeah, I cried… shhh)

Marin as a first-person narrator was also interesting. I usually dislike first person narration but it worked here as it was, more than anything, Marin’s story being told. I don’t believe a third person or omniscient narrator would have had the same effect. I think it worked for me in this case as it just made everything Marin felt hit a little closer to home, and just a lot more real. Especially her descriptions of grief and loneliness, which I believe LaCour handled very well.

Even when I was 20 or so pages from the end, I did not expect to be so emotional about the ending. I hadn’t felt that attached to Marin throughout the novel, but I did find myself shedding a tear when things finally started looking up for her.

Strangely enough I find myself more able to relate to Marin more after finishing and reflecting on the novel. I cannot claim to have been through any of the trauma she has suffered through, but she is a very old, lonely soul who distances herself from the people who love her in order to recover/survive. I can, on a small scale, relate to this, and so it felt comforting (to a degree) to know that I wasn’t alone in this coping mechanism.

It was also really great to have some decent wlw/lesbian rep that wasn’t a coming out story, or contributing to the horrific ‘Bury Your Gays Trope”. Marin’s sexuality was never made out to be a big thing, which I liked. There was also no damaging homophobia scene which unfortunately crops up nearly always in lgbtqia+ ya. It simply was, which was refreshing to say the least. I also thought the description of Marin and Mabel’s relationship was incredibly beautiful.

On to the plot twist! I did NOT see it coming. I was expecting something to be *not quite how it seemed* simply because the story was not being told chronologically, which is always a dead give-away for a plot twist, or dramatic reveal, but I am not going to lie, guys. I am a total sucker for that kind of thing. I LOVE it. Especially when the reveal is nothing like you expected or anticipated… 😉

Unfortunately, I cannot give this a five star review, or even a four starred review, because even though it was a good book that was very well written and dealt with difficult subject matter, it did bore me sometimes. There were too many little details that were kind of… very irrelevant. It felt like the author was simply filling the page at times, which is understandable as not a lot happens, and the book only takes place over 3 days.

The other thing is, while being a very sad, yet lovely novel, it was a bit forgettable. It didn’t change me, or my outlook on life, it didn’t make me question anything, but perhaps that is a lot to ask of a book, and perhaps my standards are a bit too high. It was just very sad and then a bit happy. There’s nothing wrong with that, I just sort of feel like this was a book the author needed to write, but didn’t necessarily need to be written? That sounds a bit harsh, but I don’t know how else to put it.

It was good, though. If you have a spare hour or two or three it would be a solid read, and I would recommend it.

 

I’ll leave you with that, and of course my rating:

rating: ★★★.5   (3.5 starred review)

let me know how you guys found it!

esmie xx

 

Why I won’t be finishing ‘The Diabolic’ by S.J. Kincaid

It’s not often that I don’t finish a book. I usually make a point to always get to the end, but I just couldn’t with The Diabolic. I really, really tried but I just had too many issues with it.

The world building was lacking in depth, which was unfortunate as I usually love sci-fi/dystopian books. The author just gave a lot of things that already exist more complicated and harder to pronounce names. (The upper class/aristocracy was renamed ‘The Grandiloquy’ for crying out loud) The mechanics behind space travel and the experience of it were given (sarcasm warning) a whole paragraph.  The overall effect was confusing and my efforts to keep family names and political affiliations straight in my head often pulled my focus from the narrative.

Our main character, Nemesis, was a study in contradiction and not in an introspective, profound way. She simply defied the very premise of the book.

“A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for.”

“Diabolics weren’t people.
We looked like people, to be sure. We had the DNA of people, but we were something else: creatures fashioned to be utterly ruthless and totally loyal to a single individual. We would gladly kill for that person, and only for them.

That was the description given of the inhuman, cold, born-and-bred killer that Nemesis was supposed to be. She was an antihero thrust into the role of hero. Only looking out for herself because to die would mean causing the suicide of the one girl she had sworn to protect. The whole point of Nemesis’s existence was to be emotionless and emotionally removed from all situations. She was supposed to be incapable of about 99.9% of the emotions she displays at one point or other during the half of the book that I read.

The writing was another major issue for me. I really don’t want it to seem like I’m bashing the author, but it was monotonous and boring. Like, super boring. There were perhaps one or two sentences that made me sit up and take notice, but other than that… it really wasn’t anything special. I couldn’t get into it at all, and most of the characters were extremely one dimensional, with maybe the exception of Sidonia. It is possible for brilliantly nuanced and amazingly written characters to carry a weak plot. I’ve seen it done. It’s harder for a great plot to buoy along flat, insubstantial characters, but sometimes it happens. Unfortunately, this book barely had glimpses of both.

The senseless, unnecessary violence, was also a big no for me. I do understand that this aspect is subjective and will vary from reader to reader, but having someone skin themselves alive?? When it furthers the plot in no way??  I understand that killing is Nemesis’ only purpose in life, but when it’s not even her that does a lot of the killing one begins to question the point of it. Honestly, the time spent describing the graphic violence could’ve easily been spent fleshing out the characters so that the reader actually felt something other than vague pity for a few of them.

That was another one of my issues. I felt absolutely zero connection, sympathy, empathy or even faint dislike towards the majority of the characters. Nemesis as a first person narrator had the potential to be very interesting. I just don’t feel like the author really took the concept and ran with it. There are so many moral and ethical discussions that could have been raised but just weren’t? The fact that Nemesis’ ‘love’ for Sidonia was chemically engineered could’ve been touched upon?

That being said, there were some cool aspects to the book. The prince Tyrus for example. The crazy heir to the Empire. He was quite intriguing, but I have been told that all elements of intrigue vanish quite soon after the halfway point at which I stopped. I would also bet my life savings that him and Nemesis end up together, which surely should be impossible as she is a Diabolic… The whole idea of their creepy religious cult was vaguely interesting but again, not enough to keep me going.

The cover is pretty, though.

If your looking for an easy read, then read it, sure. It won’t provoke many feelings or any existential crises, but might be interesting for some. Tell me what you think if you get the chance.

esmie x

 

☆☆☆☆☆ (0 stars –  DNF)