Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd (Edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci)

27 04 2013

geektasticIf 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 voilàGeektastic: 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?

The 12 of 2012!

22 12 2012

Here are the books that rocked the socks off of the cat this year. Books with a * were also published in 2012. After making this list, it’s striking that genre fiction didn’t really make the cut this year. After careful deliberation, Insurgent, for instance, didn’t make the 12 of 2012-list. Libba Bray’s The Diviners also just didn’t make the list. Just goes to show that the cat’s heart is where the realistic fiction is.


In alphabetical order (by author’s last name) because that’s just the way it is. The cat could probably separate the first 5 from numbers 6-12, but what’s the point really?

If the layout is completely messed up, it’s because of WordPress messing it up!













































































































































Most honorable mentions:

The Fault in Our Stars (by John Green)

19 01 2012

In probably the most anticipated book of 2012 – the release date of The Fault in Our Stars was even moved up 5 months  just because nerdfighters were waiting for it so badly – John Green yet again asks some truly universal and existential questions about love, life and the human condition but manages to transcend his typical John Green-ness, by letting in an abundance of genuine emotions and showing a personal and sensitive side to his writing hitherto not revealed in his previous work. Read the rest of this entry »

Best Books Read in 2011!

28 12 2011

In almost no particular order, this is the cat’s list of favorite books, read in 2011. (Books marked * were also published in 2011)

Please Ignore Vera Dietz (by A.S. King)

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party (by M.T. Anderson)

 Going Bovine (by Libba Bray)

The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian (by Sherman Alexie)

Everybody Sees the Ants (by A.S. King) *

A Monster Calls (by Patrick Ness and Jim Kay) *

Divergent (by Veronica Roth) *

Boy Toy and Hero Type (both by Barry Lyga)

An Abundance of Katherines (by John Green)

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares (By David Levithan & Rachel Cohn)

The Chocolate War (by Robert Cormier)

Boy Meets Boy (by David Levithan)

The Knife that killed me (by Anthony McGowan)

The Invention of Hugo Cabret (by Brian Selznick)

Wherein the cat meets John Green…

22 05 2011

and has a temporary truce with The Kid all in the name of Awesomeness.

The BossLady and the Lord of the House took the Kid and The Cat to see John Green. The cat was willing to have that little truce with The Kid because she got to take all the pictures (which, btw, is a lot harder for a cat than for a human being, what with having no fingers and all). The Cat thinks that John Green was mightily impressed with the BossLady’s reading list and gladly signed it for her (as well as all the novels, with personal little notes). John Green also read part of his new novel (more about that later…) and the Cat and the Kid listened and enjoyed:

Also, the Cat is uploading some videos in which:

  • John Green attempts to read in Dutch:
  • John Green reads part of his new novel (to be published next year) –> this would turn out to be The Fault in Our Stars!

Please Ignore Vera Dietz (by A.S. King)

8 03 2011

Ah, just like a slice of Junior’s cheesecake, A.S. King’s Please Ignore Vera Dietz feels fresh, exciting and palate cleansing! And it’s not just me who thinks so. The novel was praised by the ALA as a Printz Honor Book and deservedly so. I guess, this is one of those books that has it all: excellently developed main character(s), some quirky point of views (the town pagoda, for instance), a little bit of mystery (how did Charlie die, why did he and Vera fall out, how can Vera clear his name, etc.), a huge amount of heart and of course pizza!

Vera Dietz’s best friend Charlie died. Right before he died, they fell out, and now Vera has to come to terms with losing Charlie all over again. Vera is and is not your average 17-year-old. She’s not from the ‘best’ of families and ever since her mom took off, Vera’s father has been trying to prevent Vera from becoming just like her gene pool predicts. Good parenting to Vera’s dad has become synonymous with letting Vera know that you don’t get nothing for nothing, and so please ignore anything that might tempt you to become any of the things your parents were, be that a teenage mom (*do not date Charlie!*), an alcoholic (dad was before he cleaned up his act and become an accountant), a stripper (Vera’s mom) or all of those combined. Sounds like a complicated life and a juggling act all in itself. Add to that that Vera just tries not to draw any unnecessary attention to herself at school – please ignore Vera Dietz – and you get a potentially explosive cocktail of teenage strife and tragedy.

The book though is never gloomy or depressing, despite the myriad of topics it touches upon (drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, broken families, animal abuse, arson, pedophilia, white supremacy, to name just a few…). Instead A.S. King has managed to come up with the most readable of ‘teenage trauma’ books I’ve read in a long while. Her writing style is incredibly witty and crisp – yes, John Green fans, you will like this.

And though the book starts with a death and a funeral and you’re left to wonder what happened to Charlie, it’s not the mystery that’s at the center of this book. Instead, you get a character-driven novel, commenting on how everyone deals with the guilt they’re feeling towards their past actions and decisions in a different way, even the dead Charlie! Instead you get reflections on family, friendship and love. Vera’s voice, stands out, though: her character is deliciously complex and flawed.  At times you’ll be jumping out of your seat, wanting to yell at her for making the wrong decision (the drinking, the denial of her grief over Charlie’s death). At other times you’ll be rooting for her, or crying with her, or just feeling for her.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz is a gem amongst YA-literature: multi-layered, complex, funny. Get this book. Now.

An Abundance of Katherines (by John Green)

21 01 2011

Mathematics is cool. There, I said it! And I totally understood what John Green’s friend explained in the appendix of An Abundance of Katherines. It’s not that I was ever bad at maths or anything – I’m a cat who can read after all, so why would adding things up be hard for me? And as an A-student all around, I am not oblivious to the concept of geekiness (I actually liked going to school for the learning). I guess I just never saw the sexiness in squaring things or substituting alfas for betas or whatever. Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: