BOOK REVIEW: Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Tagline: Meet Harriet Manners. Girl. Geek. International supermodel?

When I saw “New Girl” for the first time, I didn’t think I’d like it. I started watching it as a joke and was surprised at how funny it was. The writing made me laugh out loud–a rarity–and, after one episode, I couldn’t wait to watch another.

Reading Geek Girl was similar. I checked this book out based on the tagline alone, thinking it would be super cheesy and fun to make fun of. Two pages in, I was already laughing–and not because it was bad either!

Geek Girl follows “geek” Harriet Manners, an astonishingly unpopular girl who has more interest in Russian history and animal facts than fashion, so when she becomes the new face of fashion line Baylee, it comes as quite a surprise.

I normally dislike books with obvious morals, but in Geek Girl‘s case, I didn’t mind. The story offered a new take on the “Be Yourself” motto that other books and movies tout and immediately contradict. Despite the subject matter and some of the more outlandish happenings, this book was more believable than many of those other ones.

For instance, some “be yourself” stories have it so that once the main character accepts who they are, they find true love, popularity, worldwide fame, and wealth. The true lesson: you can only have these things once you no longer care about them!

Geek Girl didn’t go in that direction. At the end [minor spoilers], Harriet is still unpopular and still only has one friend (and one stalker), but she’s reprioritized what is important to her and rediscovers the good things she already has. The only possibly unbelievable bit–a fellow supermodel having loved her the whole time–is tempered by the fact that the reader gets to see their relationship develop. Nick has a personality and a character; he’s not just there as wish fulfillment.[/minor spoilers]

Geek Girl moves along at a fast clip, each chapter ending on a cliff hanger and/or zinger from one of the characters. The pacing is excellent and makes me wonder whether Smale has ever written for television.

This book is so freaking funny. Here are some gems:

“Frankie here looks like the ginger child of an alien and duck union, and that is so fresh right now.”

“So that makes this a secret between the two of us, right?” I glare at him. “Which makes us kindred spirits? And–correct me if I’m wrong–soul mates?”
“We’re not soul mates, Toby. You can’t just go around stealing secrets and then forcing people into being your soul mate.”

Oh my God. I’m the Right Girl? I’m usually the Girl That Will Have to Do I Suppose Because That Other One Got Chicken Pox (Year Five play Cinderella).

And from the sequel:

In fact, you could say I’ve really grown up since you last saw me.

Developed. Blossomed.

Not literally. I’m exactly the same size and shape as I was six months ago, and six months before that. As far as womanly curves go, much like the volleyball captain at school, puberty is making no bones about picking me last.

The thing that most surprised me was how many twists the story offered. Since the jokes were so spot-on, I expected the story to be average–I’m cynical enough to believe that a plus in one category means a deficit in another. Contrary to my expectations, there were more than a few moments that I did not see coming. And they weren’t shocking in a Kady-Cross-I-wish-you-had-foreshadowed-that way, but in a No-way-I-can’t-believe-they-went-this-direction-that’s-awesome way. MORE THAN ONE TIME. THAT’S RARE FOR ME, GUYS.

My favorite conversation takes place at the end of the book and has given me new romance goals:

There’s a long silence. “I like you,” Nick says finally. He’s still speaking slowly, but the laziness that is always there seems to have disappeared. My whole body feels like it has a lightbulb in it.

He likes me?

Lion Boy likes me?

“But…why?” I manage to stutter.

Nick shrugs. “You’re different.”

I frown at him. “Good different or bad different?”

He grins. “Good,” he says. “And bad. But even the bad bits are different and they always make me laugh.”

“That makes no rational sense at all,” I tell him, crossing my arms. “There are 7,228,898,142 different people in the world. You clearly just haven’t met that many.”

I’ve met enough,” he says, twinkling at me and taking a step forward. His cheeks have gone pink now as well. I didn’t know it could happen to boys.

A human heart is supposed to beat between sixty and ninety times a minute, while resting. A hedgehog’s heart beats up to 300 times a minute while standing still. Honestly, I think I might be turning into a hedgehog.

Wonderful revelation of a YA book. Go read it. You have 30 minutes to find a copy before I kidnap your dog.

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