If you’re a nerd or a geek (self-proclaimed or not!), go all out an celebrate your geektastic nerdiness! “You’ve got the heart and soul of a geek or you don’t”, Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci must have thought and they knew they had friends who’d think just the same… so never too shy to try something completely out of this world, they asked some of their YA writer friends to contribute a story of their own (whether they be Klingon, Quiz Bowl, LARP or band-inspired). Sara Zarr, John Green, David Levithan, Garth Nix, Barry Lyga and a bunch of other secret or not so secret geeks jumped at the occasion et voilà…Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd was born.
There are definitely a couple of standout stories in this collection. The first highlight for the cat came with David Levithan’s “Quiz Bowl Antichrist” (in the middle of the book), about a boy’s own reasons for joining the quiz bowl team and secret admirations. Levithan is a master at characterization and proves that here as well. Barry Lyga’s “The Truth about Dino Girl” is at first almost “typically” geeky (the geek as outcast and victim), but then gets a very dark twist at the end – we don’t need to over-glorify “the geek”, you know, lots of them have mean streaks, just like those meanies out there… Plus you get the added bonus that it’s set in Brookdale! Wendy Mass’s “The Stars at the Finish Line” is a very sweet story about stars and love! There is a great dynamic between the two protagonists here. What more do you need? And then the collection ends with an absolute bang… Libba Bray’s “It’s Just a Jump to the Left”! You knew there had to be a story about Rocky right? And Libba does it right and manages to write a whole coming of age novel in the span of a short story!
There’s a story for every type of geek here, and obviously not all the stories will work for everyone (the cat admits to not feeling much for a couple of the stories here!). But I don’t think that was the point of the editors. I think they wanted to come up with a book full of stories of being passionate about something, and sometimes that passion can get out of control and become an obsession, and sometimes that passion is what defines you, but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you grow out of your passion or obsession, sometimes it’s the thing that will comfort you forever. Geeks, nerds, freaks… they’re not all the same, you know. It just happens that it’s the geeks who end up being picked on all the time, or made fun of. But that’s alright because at the very least, they don’t forget to be awesome. And if you keep an open mind, and look past what exactly it is “the geeks” are passionate about (instruments, books, sci fi, The Rocky Horror Picture Show…), you’ll see that these stories are what a lot of stories for teens are about: finding love and acceptance, finding yourself, staying true to yourself. Isn’t that the most natural and universal thing in the world?