Published by Scholastic Press on January 2nd 2018
When Edan Kupferman dresses up like her favorite character, Gargantua, she feels tall and powerful. That's important right now, because her family is a mess, her best friend is gone for the summer, her crush is confusing, and Edan's feeling small and not sure which end is up. When Edan's cosplaying, she can be angry, loud, and not the good girl everyone thinks she is. And when she's at conventions, she feels like she's found her own Team Tomorrow. But when her personal life starts to spiral out of control, Edan has to figure out whether she needs a sidekick, or if she has the strength to be the hero of her own story.
Doo doo dododo doo GEEK! As you well know I don’t read much contemporary. Mostly the entire genre just bores me. But what little of the genre I do read usually falls into one or two categories. This book falls into the largest one of my preferences: geek lit. We’re talking full on nerd characters. Kids playing D&D, geeky comic cons, fandom and cosplay, stuff like that. This particular book is an excellent example of this kind of book, though sadly there is no D&D in this one (can I please get some modern teens playing D&D in YA?).
It hardly surprises me that Castellucci has an excellent handle on geek characters. After all, she is the definitive YA nerd in the business right now. What did give me a pleasant surprise was just how awesomely feminist this book was while addressing geek culture. Here are a couple things she manages to tackle in a short amount of page space:
- Cosplay is not consent- don’t be a jerk just because a lady is in a sexy costume. Don’t assume to can touch them or take pictures without permission.
- “Fake geek girls”- There’s no such thing. Don’t make us prove we’re nerds. If we say we are, we are.
- All around misogyny in fandom- Geek girls are not teases, have valid opinions, can make geeky content without having to prove anything, etc… The space doesn’t belong to men, it belongs to everyone.
- Gatekeeping fandom is stupid. Quit it.
Cecil, you are my heroine right now. Female geeks everywhere should read this book. It made me feel powerful and valid in a way I rarely do in fandom.
Not only that but Castellucci creates a deep fandom of her own within her world, Team Tomorrow. She gives it convention time, backstory, fandom, and everything else it needs to thrive in her world. I almost want to become a fan of this nonexistent fandom right now.
The other side of this story involves relationships. First the MC’s relationship with her family– strained due to some really incredibly written white collar crime. Then with the two love interest characters who are two sides of the geek coin. There’s the entitled, shitty misogynist (who from the beginning you recognize as an all around terrible abusive person) and the genuine, respectful, if slightly troubled geek boy. There’s little subtly in which choice the author wants you to make, but that’s fine with me. Everyone should learn to recognize and shun the asshole.
I love this book’s portrayal of culture, of cosplay, and of everything that goes along with it. The character navigates real life and fandom simultaneously and often with difficulty as most geeks do. Being human is hard, being a teenage human in a tumultuous time is even harder.
I highly recommend this book for those who love geek culture and for people who liked books like GEEKERELLA. DON’T COSPLAY WITH MY HEART is a must have for my shelf now.
What’s your favorite YA geek read? Share yours in the comments.
From my shelf to yours,