Book Review Blog, Episode Nine – Geektastic: Stories From the Nerd Herd.
Book Summary: Multiple authors each write one story with a nerd/geek motif/theme. Each story is broken up by a comic/illustration that is drawn by one of two illustrators. Some examples of the short stories include: a Jedi waking up next to a Klingon in a hotel room while at a sci-fi convention, four nerds teach a cheerleader all about geekdom, a male transports a briefcase full of money via train while being accompanied by his ex-girlfriend, a young teenager runs away from home to talk to a fantasy novel author about why he’s writing love letters to his mother, a baton twirler moving from the Midwest to Hawaii, a silent giant who participates in live action role playing, and a dysfunctional quiz bowl team.
APA Reference: Black, H., & Castellucci, C. (Eds.). (2010). Geektastic : stories from the nerd herd. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.
Impressions: This book reminded me how great short stories are. The content hot home since I am a video game nerd, so I understood many of the pop culture allusions and references most the stories had. I did not like every short story. It may have been the way it was written, like the one about a 15-year-old female from Illinois runs away to a hotel in New York to meet a 34-year-old man she’s been chatting with on the Internet. The author wrote that story like letters or emails to the man, Paul Zell, and repeats the name Paul Zell an obnoxious amount of times. Other stories just had too much real life drama, like the last story about two pre-teen friends drifting apart and not going to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show together every Friday. The protagonist has a bad home life, is getting to that rebellious age where she’s disrespectful to her parents, and does not know how to live with her brother who has special needs. SPOILER! The story ends with her best friend crying on the protagonist’s porch after losing her virginity. The other stories were endearing and had positive lessons while some of them just point out that life sucks and there’s nothing you can do about it. Overall, I think the book shows readers that despite our interests in different sub-cultures, we’re all just people looking for universal things like love, happiness, and acceptance. I enjoyed this collection, and it makes me want to read most of the authors’ full novels.
Professional Review: (2009, September/October) [Review of the book Geektastic : Stories From the Nerd Herd, edited by H. Black & C. Castellucci]. Horn Book Magazine, September/October 2009. Retrieved from http://www.hbook.com/
Black (The Good Neighbors: Kin, rev. 1/09) and Castellucci (Janes in Love, rev. 11/08) edit this short story collection celebrating all things geek. From the opening story (co-written by the editors) of a star-crossed hookup (she’s Star Trek; he’s Star Wars) to Libba Bray’s poignant account of a Rocky Horror regular coming to terms with family problems and changing friendships, the collection captures the obsession, alienation, anachronism, and intellectualism of what it means to embrace geekdom, in high school and beyond. M. T. Anderson’s contemplative “The King of Pelinesse,” about a boy who visits the sci-fi author with whom he believes his mother had an affair, is a standout, as is Scott Westerfeld’s hard-boiled “Definitional Chaos,” an action-filled mind game that pits the protagonist against an ex-girlfriend of dubious morals in a meditation on the intersections of good and evil, law and chaos. Character references and technical terms are bandied about with little or no explanation, giving an insider feel to the collection — especially apparent in the one-page “How to…” comics separating each story — that could limit its audience. But Geektastic explores universal themes in original settings, and its talented authors bring transparent, infectious enthusiasm to what is obviously a cherished topic.
Library Uses: Could be used as a real aloud with older middle school students and/or high school students. Some of the stories are short enough to do that with this age group, and it’s something they don’t get that often in the library during those school years.