Rated Reads

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd

by Holly Black

Rated: High

edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci

When I first heard about this book, I was very, very excited: A collection with some of the best YA writers currently in the business, strutting their geek cred in short-story form had to be absolutely brilliant. Or at least brilliantly geeky. Right?

Perhaps my expectations were too high, because it just wasn’t all I had hoped.

It starts out with a bang: Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci combine for a wonderfully geeky story using cons and dressing up and the animosity (of sorts) between Star Trek and Star Wars. It’s a brilliantly fun story: engaging, entertaining, often hilarious. Perhaps they, as editors, should not have started off with that one, because it all went downhill from there.

Oh sure, there were some highlights in the mix: I particularly liked David Levithan’s quiz bowl geek story, which had heart as well as  a nice book-geek spin; Garth Nix’s live action role-playing one, in which our main character played a Silent Knight in both life and his LARPG, which comes to a head when the two sides collide; and Wendy Mass’s astronomy one, which was more about first love, but made me really want to go out and look at stars anyway. But, for the most part, they all seemed repetitive: take a geek (music, film, theater, dinosaurs, band) and let them fall in love. They all seemed, one way or another (notable exceptions being John Green’s and Sarah Zarr’s stories), to be about geeks falling in love. Which isn’t bad in itself: geeks fall in love as well as non-geeks, but it just seemed tiresome in story after story. I wanted something different; some other aspect of geekery. Something uniquely geeky, instead of just feeling like it was a “normal” story set in a geeky setting.

(Not that I could have written one.)

That said, I did like that they covered all aspects of geekery: there’s a story here for everyone. Multiplayer Online Games? Check. Majorettes in the marching band? Check. Theater geeks? Check. Rocky Horror Picture Show? Check. Buffy? Check. My favorite comic — the stories are interspersed with one-page comics — was “What Kind of Geek Are You?”. There are so many ways to be geeky, and it’s nice that the editors found a way to embrace them all.

And for that, Geektastic is truly fantastic. Perhaps it really is too much to expect it be fantastic in other ways, too.

Rated: High for language — not every story, but there are a few with many, many f-words, as well as other, milder language — and situations with teens drinking.

— Reviewed by Melissa Fox

Melissa Madsen Fox's blogging career began in 2004 when she started Book Nut. Reading, reviewing and book blogging have taken over what's left of her life after being a stay-at-home mom to four rambunctious daughters and wife to a slightly- absent-minded professor of political science.

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  • Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd
  • by Holly Black
  • Rated: High
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: