Book: Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd
Authors: various (edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci)
Published: 2009 (Little, Brown and Company)
This was another book that had me before I opened the front cover. As soon as I read the subtitle, I wanted to read the whole thing.
It’s a collection of stories, I think written especially for this, about being a nerd. All kinds of nerds are represented, neatly classified into their own subgenres and lovingly drawn as real people who just want a little bit more in life than their peers.
Since this is a YA collection—it is, isn’t it? It was on the YA shelf at my library and has a big YA sticker on its spine, which I realize doesn’t have to mean doodly-squat, but it’s the best classification system I have access to—all of the protagonists are high school age or younger. Almost all of them have those high school problems that seem so vitally important until you get away from them; yet I got caught up in everything and didn’t once feel the urge to scream
“It won’t matter!”
Because these guys are wrestling with nothing less than their identity. And I know how they feel. It does matter.
Now for the less philosophisin’ stuff. I didn’t like the geek references that were thrown in for no better reason than “Hey! Look! TV show/movie/book we all like! Inside joke about that!” There was a couple. I didn’t especially like the cheerleader-learns-from-nerds setup of the second story, but not because it was written badly; it just used too much of popular versus non-popular high school cliché.
“The Truth About Dino Girl” appalled me. Its setup was good—geeky girl loves popular girl’s boyfriend, popular girl finds out and makes mild fun of geeky girl, tells her boyfriend. Geeky girl is mortified. Very, very understandable. But then she retaliates with just pure cruelty. I’m torn. Points for making the geeky girl worse than the popular girl unexpectedly, but points taken away for how unnecessarily vicious it was. One big reason that outcasts make good protagonists is their finely honed sense of justice, which is completely skewed here.
But I really liked how the authors in this collection showed how varied and interesting geeks and geek interests are. Yes, we’re weird kids, but we’re better people because of it.
Also, comics by the guy who does Scott Pilgrim.