Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

March 20, 2018     erinthebooknut     Book review

Chaotic Good by Whitney GardnerChaotic Good by Whitney Gardner
Published by Knopf on March 13th 2018
Pages: 256

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.

The Full 5

D&D, Cosplay, and Girl Power, Oh My! CHAOTIC GOOD is a geek girl’s dream. It’s hard geek, its creative, and it has a bit of She’s the Man flair.

It’s hard to be a geek girl on the internet. Mouth breathing geek guys gatekeep their fandoms like no other. They call us fake, they torment us, they try their best to chase us off. This book addresses every little bit of that. What it feels like, how it effects us, how we can respond. Cameron is so sympathetic and strong. She takes the harshness of her reality and funnels it into her work. Into cosplay and costuming.

If I could sew I would want to be Cameron.

But that gatekeeping isn’t only an internet reality, its a physical one two. This is something Cameron learns and has to deal with. Many people say that the crossdressing girl trope is overdone and even harmful. I don’t agree. In this book it works. It shows the true differences in how the genders react to one another in geekdom and it’s something at was addressed perfectly here.

Cooper, Cameron’s brother, is a precious baby angel and I loved him from the word go. He has his own issues to address in this book as a gay man and though they aren’t the focus they aren’t pushed to the side either. Cooper is so real, so lovable, and like Cameron his creative outlet is everything.

This is the first YA book I’ve read that features D&D as a main component of the plot and I am loving it! I want more books to include this incredible staple of geekdom that people seem to think is no longer a thing. Believe me, it is. Especial since 5e came out. Give me teenagers rolling up their characters, give me writing backstories, give me the epic battles!

This book also uses comics as a piece of storytelling, showing the D&D action in small strips. I love this way of storytelling and I love comics. I got a little cringey as Cameron tore them apart to examine them for her costumes. My heart broke for those poor comic books. Why you do dis, Cameron? What did those book ever do to you? I mean, seriously girl. Ouch.

Now I’m no expert on sewing and the fabric arts but this book even covers a level of geek/nerd in that realm. I mean how many people can do what Cameron does in this story? Only those who are nerds of the craft, I’ll bet. It’s an all inclusive geek smorgasbord. I wish there were more books out there that were this unabashedly geeky.

I highly recommend this book to all of my unapologetic nerd family out there. It’s one of my favorite books of the year! Everyone, go, read it, do the thing.

What’s your favorite “nerd” book out there? Share your pick in the comments below, I need new recs!

From my shelf to yours,

Erin @ The Book Nut

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