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Geek Girl - review

“Nobody hopped into a wardrobe to find Narnia; they hopped in, thinking it was just a wardrobe. They didn't climb up the Faraway Tree, knowing it was a Faraway Tree; they thought it was just a really big tree. Harry Potter thought he was a normal boy; Mary Poppins was supposed to be a regular nanny. It's the first and only rule. Magic comes when you're not looking for it.”

Title: Geek Girl
Author: Holly Smale

Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
Source: Purchased from Kindle Store
Buy it: Here  

Synopsis

Harriet is a geek. She likes to watch documentaries about whale migration, she knows - and uses - the Latin name for ants and, besides, "GEEK" is scrawled across her school bag in red ink for all to see. She has one friend: her Best Friend Nat, one stalker: Fellow geek, Toby, and a whole lot of people who hate her. She knows, because she keeps a record on a list in her pocket at all times.
When Harriet is dragged to The Clothes Show Live by aspiring model Nat, she expects it to be a disaster, and that's exactly what it is. Until Harriet is spotted by a prolific modelling agency. As Harriet tries to transform her image, her life begins spiraling out of control. And that's not to mention the super-hot "lion boy" she met under a table.

Review

Ok, I'll get this out of the way from the start: I have to admit I felt a little bit divided in my opinion about Geek Girl for a lot of the book. I wanted so much to love it. So many people I respect love it, surely I would love it too? Unfortunately I can't admit to "love" but I did end up liking it. It just took a while to get there...

I instantly liked the main characters - they had such endearing qualities: Nat's loyalty, Toby's unabashed devotion, Harriet's obliviousness to her effect on people... their dialogue was funny and very true to life. It took me back to when I was 15! It was easy to align myself with the group of "misfits" as they reminded me a lot of my own time at school. I think everyone will find that in one of these three characters. All of them, although very stereotyped, are very relatable.
I was initially a little reserved about my affection for Toby's character. A teenage stalker isn't really a thing that should be enjoyed - but his comedic value is perfect towards the end. I found that when I stopped taking things so seriously, I enjoyed Geek Girl a lot more.

However, as much as I loved the teenage characters, I cannot say the same about the adults. I found them quite over-bearing, their character traits forced and, well, annoying. I was skipping entire paragraphs of Wilbur's dialogue - one more sickly-sweet nickname and I was going to flip - I found myself thinking "seriously?" more often than not in relation to Harriet's dad, having never encountered a real adult so absolutely childlike as he, and the portrayal of Annabel as a PMT b****-monster from Hell had me grinding my teeth.
But, having said that, it was nice to see a positive and loving relationship between Harriet and her step mother... For all the stereotypes and cliches this book makes use of for it's humour, I'm glad to see the "evil step-mum" was left out.

The story itself is not complex or fast paced, which was a tiny bit disappointing, but it does set a nice platform on which to explore a few teenage concerns: friendship, loyalty, honesty, standing up to bullies, acceptance and identity. And with all that going on, who needs a lot of action? The emotions are centre stage in this book and when you are positioned so well with the protagonist, the feelings are affecting and give a nice warming sensation of happiness at their resolution.


It isn't until the end of the book, however - after the narrative, in fact - that my opinion of Geek Girl found a settling place. I read the Author Profile and instantly felt like I "understood" Geek Girl more. Holly Smale it seems, has written from experience. So perhaps Wilburs do exist, in some form? Perhaps there are parents out there having more tantrums than their own children in the modelling world? Maybe Holly is, in some way, Harriet. Of course, I don't know any of this for sure, but I am glad the author profile was included, and that it was written in a way just as readable as the story itself. I feel it really added something more to the experience of the book.

Overall

Although I personally found Geek Girl a bit too "light reading" for me (I like inner turmoil, anguish and dark places!), I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone around the ages of 11-18 looking for a quick and easy read. It has some great characters, a nice message and a really enjoyable and humourous style. I think a lot of my friends would have loved this book when we were in school!

Score 
★★★

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