Title: Queens of Geek (2017)
Author: Jen Wilde
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQIA+
Extent: 288 pages
Release Date: March 14, 2017
Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.
Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.
Going into Queens of Geek, I was actually kind of hesitant. Fandom books are somewhat of a rarity, in my experience, and what’s there is not always a hit. When I heard about this one and how it’s yet another con experience with best friends as main characters (like All the Feels or The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love), I was fully prepared to be let down. Thankfully, Queens of Geek managed to surpass those stories — at least in my humble opinion. 😉
The tagline is “three best friends, two love stories” and while that’s not inaccurate, this is really about two people: Charlie, an up-and-coming bisexual Chinese-Australian YouTuber, and Taylor, a chubby girl who is somewhere on the autism spectrum and suffers from anxiety. It is these two who experience the most growth, these two who start the story with a problem and have to find solutions to fix it, throughout the one fan convention they’ve always wanted to experience.
“This is it, you guys,” I say as we approach. “Everything we’ve always dreamed of. This is our Holy Grail.”
When we say it, it’s a whisper, like the name itself is to be cherished: “SupaCon.”
One of the most important things in a contemporary novel is its characters, as well as the relationships that they have with one another, and Wilde certainly brings it. Charlie and Taylor are both particularly well-developed, and their friendship with each other (as well as with Jamie) is so sweet, so adorable. The romances are also super sweet when the relationships start to develop, to the point where I actually start shipping them — especially Taylor and Jamie, because hell, they are freakin’ adorable and they’re perfect for each other. 💖
Queens of Geek also doesn’t disappoint on the representation front. Not only does it have diverse characters, it takes a stance on important issues multiple times throughout the book, and the characters have a couple of realistic discussions about these issues. Coming from a friendship group who does talk about these things in real life, it was great to see this happen. And yay for friendship!
“You don’t need to fit yourself into what society tells us a girl should be. Girls can be whoever they want. Whether that’s an ass-kicking, sarcastic, crime-solving FBI agent or a funny, gorgeous, witty beauty queen — or both at the same time.”
One tiny complaint, though: I wish there was more of fandom stuff! I liked the bits that were there, but for some reason this book didn’t really make me feel nostalgic the way some other fandom books do. This is probably more on me, though — while I’ve been a fan for more than half my life, I’ve actually never been into cons and cosplay and probably can’t relate that much to that side of the experience. 😅
I also, unfortunately, didn’t feel like the supporting cast is as well-fleshed out as our protagonists, especially love interests like Jamie and Alyssa. I don’t feel like I really know them beyond their romance with Taylor and Charlie, and what was there was more “told, than shown”. It’s not a huge problem because it doesn’t necessarily detract from my enjoyment, but it does mean that the book isn’t as ~perfect~ as I want it to be.
Overall, though, I really enjoyed this glimpse into the world of fandom! Both Charlie and Taylor are root-worthy protagonists, and I liked seeing the world through their eyes. Queens of Geek is a cute, easy read that delivers a good time. 🌸
REAL RATING: 3.5 stars.