Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Contempo-May Review: Geekhood by Andy Robb

In One Line:  Geek meets girl; cue hilarity!
Genre: High School underdog does good.
The Gist:
Just in case you haven’t already guessed, our main character, Archie is a geek. But he’s not just any old geek, he’s an uber-geek. The kind that paints tiny fantasy figurines and plays dungeons and dragons. In terms of mainstream society, he’s pretty much a lost cause. Until Beautiful Goth Sarah walks into his life, mistaking his fantasy games shop hangout for a new-age, cult boutique. Sarah is quite obviously da bomb, and Archie is in love. But not just any kind of love, this is the real deal, life-changing LURVE. Will Archie break out of his geeky shell and get the girl? Will he manage to avoid being beaten up by the school bully? And most importantly, who will win in the game of life?
The Cover:
It is so cute and dorky! And I actually quite like the fact that they didn’t resort to cliches. I mean, you could have put a dragon and/or a Frodo and/or a Spock on there, but there are probably copyright issues involved. So they went for the simple, and the simple works for me. What I really want to talk about is the quote on the cover. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Who the hell got Vampire Bill to quote on the cover of this book, and can that person please get in touch with me so that I can force my way into their life and therefore meet Vampire Eric and Werewolf Alcide??? (because I’m totally over Bill since he became the king and became even more mysterious and secretive than usual). ANYWAY. Yeah, the cover’s alright. 
Why You’ll Love This Book
  • This book is actually just like a little geek. Initially a little weird to look at, but it’s core is all warm and friendly and fuzzy. Seriously, this book is stuffed with heart and that makes it a wonderful, engaging read. 
  • So this is what young teenage guys think about when they see girls! They notice our bras! They like to make us laugh! They think we’re elven princesses! Ok, maybe not the last one, but in any case this book is an enlightening insight into how the other half thinks and feels. 
  • Contemporary YA is aimed so much at the girlie market that it’s truly refreshing to come across some great, young, comic writing that boys can equally enjoy. Give this book to your brothers! To your boyfriends! To your boy-cousins! 
  • Proto-Big-Bang-Theory. This is like a What If scenario, if Big Bang Theory was set in England and the characters were all 14. Of course Sheldon would blatantly already be graduating from Oxbridge at this stage, but Archie is so obviously a younger Leonard that it made me want to hug him. 
  • Geek overload. There are some truly epic references in this book, and every one is SO entertaining. From Star Trek, to Star Wars, to Lord of the Rings, I don’t think there is anything that is missed out. Mr Robb has clearly had a lot of fun writing this, and it’s lots of fun to read too.

Why You May Not Love This Book:
  • Sarah. I’m sorry, but from the very first moment she showed up, I couldn’t stand her. She’s written like she’s some unreal creature, which is fair to an extent because the story is from Archie’s point of view, but it left me wondering if Mr Robb can in fact write women. Because Sarah makes pretty much no sense to me, and other than Archie and Sarah’s mothers, there are no other girls in the book. I want to lay down this gauntlet to Mr Robb: write a believable girl next time please, because I don’t know anyone who would have behaved like Sarah. By the end of the novel I actually wondered if she was mildly autistic, as she has absolutely NO idea of the affect she’s having on the guys around her. 
  • Every now and again I wanted to go through some pages with a big red pen. I just don’t think this book has been edited enough. All the writing is great, but there is a lot of unnecessary stuff going on here. This book could have been a lot shorter and not suffered at all for it. 
  • I wanted more of Archie’s friends. Can’t really elaborate much on that, especially after I’ve said that the book could do with being a little shorter, but Archie’s mates all merged into one entity for me, and I couldn’t tell them apart much. 

The Hypersomnia Test:
It didn’t pass. I’m sorry. Passing or not passing the hypersomnia test really is no indication of whether I liked the book, or whether it was good or not, but does tell me something about the pace. If it doesn’t keep me awake, it means that something in the storytelling isn’t quite hitting the right buttons. And this book is very, very wordy, with not a lot of action. In fact, I suspect that it would have done with losing a few hundred words here and there. 
Final Verdict:
I am a bonified geek, always have been, always will be. Ever since I discovered Star Trek: The Next Generation and decided that a man with a beard was ok ONLY if they also played the trombone, I knew what I was. I was attracted to the world of sci-fi for it’s optimism. My teenage years sucked - I looked odd, was brainy and had a wacky imagination, so I found solace in the world of Star Trek, with it’s prime directives and it’s sleek spaceships and replicators that could make ANYTHING and yet nobody was ever fat. I had a star trek badge. I had a Bajoran earring (google it. It’s soooo cool). So essentially, I was the female version of Archie. I identified. I know how hard it is to be a geek in a world that seems so ultimately cooler than you. I wish I had a book like this when I was younger so that I didn’t feel so alone, and I truly hope that there are more stories from Archie and his friends to come!
Further Reading:
Swim the Fly by Don Calame
To buy Geekhood click HERE!!!

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