- my rating: 4 stars
- published by: Swoon Reads
- genres: YA, lgbt+, contemporary
- diverse: yes
When the book community started talking about Jen Wilde’s Queens of Geek I knew I had to have it. A homage to fandom, youtube, cosplay, pop culture and all things geek starring a bisexual Chinese-Australian sounded like the perfect read for me, especially during Pride Month. Rave reviews started rolling in, and I’m so glad that I’m here to add my own. Queens of Geek was everything it promised to be and more – it’s such a fun and light book, with solid friendships and plenty of fandom, both imagined and real. But it’s also about learning to believe in yourself, being brave and also features solid representations of bisexuality, race and anxiety from a diverse and well developed cast of characters.
It is basically impossible to not read this book and feel happy afterward, it left me smiling and laughing all the way through and a warm feeling in my heart afterwards. it’s one of those books that makes you feel all warm and gooey inside and since it’s absolutely bucketing down here in Australia – a perfect winter read.
Queens of Geek follows a trio of characters – Charlie, a Chinese-Australian girl who’s gained herself a small following through her youtube channel, and her best friends Taylor and Jamie.
After starring in a hit movie alongside popular actor and her ex-boyfriend Reese Ryans, Charlie is invited to be a panelist and to meet fans at the Los Angeles convention, Supacon. She’s eager to put her old relationship in the past, but is wary of upsetting her fan base. She also hopes to meet her idol and long-distance youtube crush Alyssa Huntington. Charlie decides to bring along her two best friends – Taylor, a girl who loves the “Firestone” book series and is determined to meet it’s author but struggles with her anxiety and Jamie, a boy recently moved to Australia who’s obsessed with Marvel comics and has a burgeoning romance with Taylor.
For me, one of the highlights and reasons I was so eager to pick this book up was the promise of a bisexual main character. I’m bi myself, and so I’m always excited when I hear about a book which represents bisexuality well. I’m always wary going into bi books – because the representation is so often harmful or bad but I really, really liked the representation of Charlie as a bisexual woman.
Charlie’s bisexuality comes under-fire from other characters, who make problematic and untrue assumptions about her and bisexuality but she counters them with grace and I loved that it allowed people reading who may not know about bisexuality to also learn with the ignorant character. However, I also liked that Charlie’s bisexuality was not the sum of her being – there were so many elements that made up her characterisation before that – and this made her a complete and rounded character.
I cannot speak for the other representations – but have only heard good things of their portrayal. Taylor has anxiety and Aspergers, and this aspect of the story is ownvoices. Jamie is latinx. All reports from people who share these identities have been positive, so this book gets a massive plus from me in terms of diversity and representation.
I also really enjoyed the strong female friendships and support systems amongst the girls, the cute, non-sexualised wlw relationship and the portrayal of Jamie – who didn’t fit into any of those annoying YA tropes we’re sick of seeing like “bad boy” or “friendzoned” or “Nice Boy Next Door”
To the weirdo’s, the geeks and the fandom queens. To the outcasts, the misfits and everything in between. The days of playing the sidekick are over. You are the superheroes now. You are my people, and this is for you
My one issue is that dialogue sometimes felt forced, and alot of the “messages” of this book were told in exposition. This made what would have been a smooth book a little clunky in places. In some scenes it works, but in others its a little cringeworthy. The characters sometimes err on the side of caricature, and don’t display many flaws which makes them unrealistic, and it becomes very obvious in some scenes of the book.
But despite that I genuinely think this is an excellent contemporary, and one many people will be able to find comfort in like I did.
Queens of Geek was everything it promised to be and more – it’s such a fun and light book, with solid friendships and plenty of fandom, both imagined and real. But it’s also about learning to believe in yourself and being brave. It’s about and for all the Geeks out there, and if you want your nerdiness to be validated READ THIS.