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Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd

Review

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd

Everyone has a geeky side to them. They may also have a sporty side, an intellectual side, or a can’t-live-without-Taco-Bell side, but it’s time to embrace your inner geek. Editors Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci have called upon their geeky author friends to create a rousing collection of all things geek. Authors M.T. Anderson, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, John Green, Hope Larson, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Barry Lyga, Tracy Lynn, Wendy Mass, Garth Nix, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Cynthia & Greg Leitich Smith, Scott Westerfeld, Lisa Yee and Sara Zarr remind us what it means to be a geek and have a fun time while they’re at it.

Each story is a realistic look at the lives of teenagers who welcome their inner geek and deal with the consequences of what that all entails. Most of the stories are humorous, including situations in which social boundaries are crossed (think cheerleader and the geeks). Others deal with extreme circumstances that result from their geeky actions (think online gaming and the real faces behind those computers).  However, the whole collection is extremely relatable to the everyday teenager, and each story is heartwarming in its own right. Don’t worry because Jedi, Klingons, knights, epic battles, quiz bowls, etc. are thrown in occasionally to keep everyone happy.

Scott Westerfeld’s story “Definitional Chaos” stands out simply for its drawing of an alignment matrix packed into an intriguing storyline. Money ($84,000) must be delivered to a hotel in Florida in 48 hours or the annual convention is off. The only man for the job is accompanied by the last person he expected --- the ex-girlfriend who killed off his nearly indestructible character in Mayhem. What ensues is not only a look at good, evil, law, chaos and how they all match up together, but also a classic look at what happens when old flames meet up again. Be on your guard as Westerfeld promises to blow your mind and then put it back together.

Garth Nix also provides a simple look at how being geeky can be extraordinary in “The Quite Knight.” Tony has been lying to his father for years about where he goes in the evening. Instead of basketball practice, Tony has invested time in role-playing games. He is known as the Quiet Knight due to his throat and larynx being burned as a child when he accidentally swallowed bathroom cleaner. Whatever Tony lacks in his quietness is made up in his bravery and chivalry in LARP. What happens, though, when his very knighthood is put to the test in real life? Will he give up, or be the hero he desperately longs to be?

The best thing about GEEKTASTIC is that it has something for everyone. Whether you are a casual observer who will be able to pick up on some references, or a die-hard fan who will get all the hidden meanings and then some, there is a wide variety of stories to fit each taste. Plus, as a bonus, Hope Larson and Bryan Lee O’Malley provide comic relief in the form of, well, comics! I can’t say that I’m a full-blown geek, but just as one character came to realize, I appreciate the interest and passion that geeks bring to their geeky worlds. I’ve embraced my inner geek, and I think you will enjoy reading about those who have done it as well.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on August 1, 2009

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd
edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci

  • Publication Date: June 7, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Short Stories
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0316008109
  • ISBN-13: 9780316008105