on January 15, 2010
This is an amazing collection of fiction with everything from sci-fi conventions, to cheerleaders, to star gazing and prep schools. Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci came up with the idea for the first story in this collection in 2007 at Comic-Con in San Diego. The story would be a nerd love story - a Jedi and a Klingon wake up in bed at a Science Fiction convention together not remembering exactly what happened. They realize that their preferred alternate realities, theologies and practices are diametrically opposed, and yet they find they like each other. But soon upon having the idea for the story they realized nobody would publish it, so they went to their geek friends far and wide and asked them to contribute to a collection, and what an amazing collection it is.
To be honest, I picked it up because Holly Black was one of the editors and I generally really appreciate and enjoy her work. And yet it surpassed all my expectations; I plan on tracking down works from a number of contributors and reading them from the pieces found in this collection. Their work will be great. The contributors are:
Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci
Cynthia Leitich Smith and Greg Leitich Smith
And between each short story is a comic, illustrated either by Bryan Lee O'Malley or Hope Larson. The back of the dust jacket gives definitions of both geek and geektastic. They are:
Geek \gek\ n: 1. A person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked 2. A person who is so passionate about a given subject or subjects as to occasionally cause annoyance among others
geek-tas-tic \ gek-tas-tic\ adj: marked by fantastic geek qualities; a compliment of the highest regard
Number 1. From geek might be is a real definition. This book will help make the others so as well. For geek is the new chic. To be a geek is now cool and this collection has something for every flavor of geek: Star Trek, Star Wars, Dr. Who, Comics, and much, much more. I was surprised that I enjoyed every story in the collection. Usually with anthologies, a few stories stick out as great, a few suck and a few are ok. I actually appreciate the art of each piece in the collection. That speaks much about the editors but also the authors that contributed. Reading this collection brought back memories of high school, Queen's University and my time here at UWaterloo. Just as a side note, the images on the covers are representations of our contributors, and there are a few different versions of the covers because the figures are not always in the same order. Each represents the story they told or the characters in those stories. It's geeky but fun to link them together as you work through the book. And as a second aside, I would love to see an audio book come out either as dramatized or each author reading their piece.
Knowing I will not do them justice, I will try to provide a brief summary of each of the stories in this wonderful collection.
Once You're a Jedi, You're a Jedi All the Way
Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci have woven a wonderful tale about different world views colliding and then settling. It is an excellent story of a Jedi and a Klingon who fall in love. As the best stories do, it leaves you wanting to know what happens next. Black is best known for her part in the duo that created The Spiderwick Chronicles, and Castelluci has won awards for both her novels and graphic novels. By far, this is one of my favorite pieces in the collection.
One of Us
In this interesting story by Tracy Lynn, a cheerleader goes to the Games club so they can teach her Geek. Her boyfriend is into Original Trek, and the Lord of the Rings. She wants to understand him better so she pays the geeks to teach her. They set up a schedule to teach her - movies, tv, comics and more. She is doing this for love, but as many of us know, at times, love sucks. Lynn has published numerous books including Snow, RX, and The Nine Lives of Chloe.
Can a last kiss ever be good? In this story Scott Westerfeld takes us on an adventure between two people who were once in a relationship and are now trusted with taking eighty-four thousand dollars by train to pay for convention fees. He doesn't trust her, and she loves pushing his buttons. But in reality she is looking for resolution to their already-ended relationship. It is a great story and would read a little like a Robert B. Parker story if he spoke geek instead of just tough. Westerfeld is the author of So Yesterday, Peeps and The Last Day.
Cassandra Clare is bestselling author of City of Bones, City of Ashes and City of Glass (Not to be confused with Douglas Coupland's book by the same title.) This again is another love story but about two people from an online game who meet at a gathering of members from the game. It does not go nearly as planned. Jane was in the online game playing as who she is in the real word and her Heathcliff is not, or at least not who she thinks Heathcliff is. It is fun, funny and quirky in the way that is best enjoyed by those who have met in real life someone they met online previously.
The King of Plinesse
Having met a number of the authors I really appreciate, I have enjoyed the experience. I have however never gone to one's house to meet them unannounced. Of course it might be different if I was under the impression the author in question had had an affair with my mother. It is interesting that M.T. Anderson writes a story about a fan contacting an author when he is the only contributor to the collection without a personal or professional website I could find. It is an interesting story but in my opinion it is the weakest in the collection.
The Wrath of Dawn
This story by Cynthia Leitich Smith and Greg Leitich Smith is both about the geek and the blended family. It is the story of a Dawn who relates to Dawn from Buffy, and yet it has a strength and power in her protestations over her situation in life. A good well-balanced story.
Quiz Bowl Antichrist
My favorite quote from this whole book comes from this story: "My social status was the same as a water fountain in the hall - people were happy enough I was there when they needed me, but otherwise they walked on by." This story written by David Levithan is about sexuality and self discovery. It is about a boy who doesn't realize it, but he is in love with one of the other boys on the Quiz Bowl team, and that is really the only reason he does it. Things come to a head when the team has traveled to compete in the nationals. The story is well and tastefully done by the author of such books as Boy Meets Boy, the Realm of Possibility and Marley's Ghost to name but a few.
The Quiet Knight
It is hard to imagine someone who likes science fiction or fantasy who has not heard of Garth Nix. This is a great story for anyone who wanted to fight in armor or play with swords. The Quiet Knight had damaged vocal cords but he loves to role play, especially simulated battles. But his role playing world and his life at school are about to collide. It is definitely one of the top 3 stories in the collection.
Everyone But You
Lisa Yee creates a story about a girl who is the queen bee at her current highschool but when her family moves to Hawaii she becomes the lowest on the school totem pole. But it is also the story of her learning what really matters and how to face adversity. This is a good story by author of Millicent Min, Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time and Absolutely Maybe.
Kelly Link writes a story that is a long, rambling letter from a 15 year old girl who had pretended to be much older in an online game. Then when she sneaks off to New York to meet her online romance, things do not go as planned, and this story is her true confession. It is a story with superheroes, (of the convention kind) and personalities both flamboyant and somber. It is the longest piece in the collection and has a certain charm, but not one of the best. Link has authored Pretty Monsters and Stranger Things Happen (both of which are reminiscent of Chuck Palahniuk books Invisible Monsters and Stranger than Fiction.)
Freak the Geek
In one of the shortest pieces in the collection John Green presents a story about life at a girls' prep school - a story where the senior class picks two geeks to pick on as part of the school's tradition. It is told from the perspective of those to be freaked. John Green is award-winning author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns.
The Truth About Dino Girl
Revenge of the Nerd, told from a girl's perspective is the best way to describe this story by Barry Lyga. They say Revenge is a dish best served cold. In this one, be cautious of the woman wronged, especially if that woman is a geek. This is a dark tale of what people can do to each other after being hurt. It is a powerful piece of storytelling, and captures the damage that a few words or actions can cause. Lyga is the author of The Astonishing adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl.
This is My Audition Monologue
This story was the one I enjoyed the least. Sara Zarr presents a piece about a drama club person who is auditioning in her senior year. She does a long rambling piece about her 4 years doing behind the scene work for school plays, and that the guy who was electrocuted last year doing lighting should have been her. With lots of pop culture, film and theatre reference, it is an ok piece, just did not appeal to me. Zarr has two critically-acclaimed novels, Sweethearts and Story of a Girl. She has also contributed to numerous anthologies.
The Stars at the Finish Line
Wendy Mass is the author of eight novels including A Mango-Shaped Space, Jeremy Find and Heaven Looks A Lot Like The Mall. This is the story of two young people who have been competing since the 4th grade, and now in their final year realize they are more alike than different. They go on a field trip to try to complete the Messier Marathon. This ranks as one of the top three stories for me - fantastic storytelling and amazing information on astronomy.
It's Just a Jump to the Left
This is a short story with young girls who weekly attend the Rocky Horror Picture Show. They both wish life were different and for their age are dealing with major things in life. But the weekly trips to the show, dressed up in costume, are what unites them together and sets them apart. Libba Bray writes a very interesting piece dealing with many issues, disease, hope, despair and frustration.
This is an amazing collection both because of the individual pieces, and because it can introduce you to so many new authors to pursue. It is well written and very well edited. Pick it up for either your outer geek or your secret, hidden inner geek. I am sure there is something you will enjoy, laugh at, or maybe even cry with.
(First Published in Imprint 2010-01-15.)
I will not lie. I am a total geek. I have admitted this many times and I will not be ashamed. I am a Star Wars nerd, I watch Lord of the Rings marathons, I read the entire Harry Potter series at least once a year, I know everything about James Bond. The only geeky thing I'm not really into is Star Trek, but I will admit to watching the newest one and really enjoying it. That said, this book was PERFECT for me. It's pretty much the story of my life.
What I really love about this book is that I can totally relate to many of the stories. Even greater is the number of stories that feature girls as being totally into the geek culture. Too often the stereotype is that only nerdy guys who have no friends are geeks, but this book shows that girls, cool girls can be geeks and enjoy it. Of course there are also many stories that show how the "in crowd" shuns the geeks and the hardships that goes from feeling as you are a freak for the things you like. Many of the stories are painful to read because of the treatment received from others. However, there are still others that show it doesn't matter what others think as long as you enjoy what you do. I really loved the comic strips that were featured in between the stories. These were laugh out loud hilarious in their portrayal of the different types of geekdom. I wish there was a whole book on just these comics alone.
I did like some stories better than others. There were a few that I really just could not get into. I'm not sure if it was because I was unaware of the background of the story or because I was unfamiliar with the author's style of writing. Also some stories featured a bit more sex and language than I would have liked to read. That being said, there's something for everyone in this book. Even if you have no idea what a Wookie is or can't speak a lick of Klingon, you'll still enjoy the multitude of talent from the authors who contributed to the book.
My question is this: How can you not want to read this book? Even if your interest in (any) fandom is casual to the point of 'I kind of remember that blond chick with a pointy stick' this book will have you in stitches, tears or ready to be a more active member of some wonderful community. Whether you are a Trekkie (or is it Trekker now?), Star Wars fan, Whedonite, Otaku or a more obscure fandom (Blake's 7? Does anyone remember that show?) you'll enjoy this book.
It's not perfect, I sometimes wondered if some of the stories rely too heavily on some prior knowledge of the geeky topic at hand or took some of the examples to extremes (though to be fair I knew a guy who literally grew up Klingon. It was the first language he learned--yes before English--started 'developing' forehead ridges around the age of five and who's parents left him out in the wilderness at the age of 13 for a month in the summer for his 'Rite of Passage' ceremony--since beating him with sticks is considered illegal of course. By the time he was twenty-one, you'd be hard-pressed to know that he was human underneath all the make-up, Klingon cursing and bloodwine guzzling), but the book made me feel less odd.
I grew up in a school where sports were #1, academics #2 and theater #3. Geeky things like Star Trek or D&D or comic books came in distant distant last place. Golf was considered cooler then Star Trek or comic book reading. The rare few who were part of the 'Nerd Herd' with me did so in severe secrecy--our school's QB for my 9th and 10th grade years would trade X-Men cards with me under the pretense of me tutoring him in english. The leading 'brain' of the school played Q-Bert down at the shore (a good hour and half away from us) twice a week--far away from anyone who would know him. I was out in the open about my interests, mostly because I had long since given up caring about my image. I got teased, taunted, ridiculed and scorned at (and these were my friends), but I couldn't help that I couldn't fake interest in how badly our school's football team sucked (it was pretty bad).
Some of the stories were simply hilarious, some were moving and some took itself as seriously as a Jedi Master takes going to the dark side. As to be expected of a Compendium of Geekness, pop culture references abound. Subtle (Mr. Pointy for example), not so subtle (pretty much elvish or Klingon word uttered throughout) and the convention oriented (Jedis vs. Klingons vs. Stormtroopers vs. Peacekeepers vs. Cylons....with some Starfleet Cadets/Officers thrown in for good measure).
For anyone who has ever been to a major (or even small) convention you'll probably appreciate the humor behind Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci's story about cosplayers who take things to the extreme, gamers will definitely fall in line with Scott Westerfield's story and Tracy Lynn's story about a cheerleader trying to learn Geek is wonderful. It hits all the fandoms, all the stereotypes and then presents them differently without being insulting.
Regardless I think that Geektastic is a great anthology with its own pitfalls, but for the casual Geeky young adult (or hell even an adult) its the perfect gift--either to show them that they aren't that alone in the world or hey you could always be that kid who wears his Jedi robes to school and tries to use the Force to get passing grades.
on September 1, 2009
Read it on the Kindle (and Kindle iPhone app). While usually not much of a short story fan, this was excellent. I'd like to give it a 4.5. Many of the stories are surprisingly sweet or bittersweet, besides many being very funny. The comics between chapters were a fun bonus, although some were hard to read on the Kindle. Of course I liked some stories more than others; no doubt everyone will have different favorites, so I won't mention particular stories. However one story I liked least (by far) was "The Truth About Dino Girl" by Barry Lyga. The story was good enough through the bulk of it with a fairly likable protagonist. But then at the end the behavior of the main characters is malicious, unfunny, and criminal, not to mention not the least bit clever or geeky. Terrible ending. But otherwise a really fun read.
Who says nerds and geeks are out of style? Certainly not Black and Catellucci as they've done an amazing job of collecting stories that highlight the dorkdom of quiz bowl athletes, nerd quotient of roll playing gamers, and flighty disinterest of a popular princess prom queen turning to the dark side and befriending a loveable group of losers.
While it is difficult to provide a succinct summary of this book or review its many stories with great detail it is safe to say that there truly is something for everyone in this collection. As a reader I did not enjoy every story, in fact I skipped over a couple entirely, but the majority were entertaining, enlightening and heart-warming. I mean, honestly, we've all been through high school and most of us have also felt periods of inadequacy so I doubt there isn't at least some small something somewhere in these stories that a reader won't relate to.
Though difficult to read at times stories surrounding the persecution of teens for being different (Lyga's The Truth About Dino Girl for example) all seemed quite realistic to me. High school is a brutal place where kids who are different are treated like social pariah and even worse abused mentally and physically. This issue is addressed in multiple ways in multiple stories -- from the dork subtly changing their own lives to fit in with a more mainstream crowd or by acts of revenge that turn the nerd into a bully themselves.
All in all I would recommend this book to anyone who finds different types of culture interesting or engaging. I admit I do not have a great deal of knowledge of much in the way of roll playing games, quiz bowls, or other such thinky and different past times but I walked away from these stories a better person for having learned more.
on June 14, 2011
I finally got around to reading Geektastic today. And by 'finally' I mean I got in the mail yesterday and started it but I finished it earlier and re-read some of the beginning stories I semi-rushed into.
First of all, I was surprised. I bought Geektastic because of the authors I recognized and like -- John Green, Wendy Mass, Scott Westerfeld, and Holly Black. I recognized quite a few of the other authors, and have even read their works before, but I was never a big fan of them, such as Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, and David Levithan.
Now, here's what surprised me.
Scott westerfeld, one of my favorite authors, wrote one of my least favorite stories in the entire anthology. The only reason his story wasn't considered to be the WORST, was because John Green's story was so bland. Maybe this is because John Green is good at writing novels, not so much Short stories. I wouldn't know, but needless to say I am disappointed.
Now, I had a few favorite stories.
1.) One of Us by Tracy Lynn won as my favorite, which was completely surprising because she is an author I've never heard of in the past. I plan on reading more of her work in the future.
2.) The next winner would be Quiz Bowl Antichrist by David Levithan. This was surprising, because although I liked him in Will Grayson, Will Grayson, I entirely DISLIKED Boy Meets Boy. His character reminded me so much of will grayson though, who I loved, which might be why I fell in love with this story.
3.) It's Just a Jump to the Left by Libba Bray. It was a cute story, though the characters remind me of myself at that age in the worst possible way.
Other prizes go out to The Wrath of Dawn by Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, because I love the Buffy Fandom involved, and The Stars at the Finish Line by Wendy Mass.
on August 28, 2011
Have you ever once in your life been called a Geek or Freak ? Ever thought you were different ? Enjoy hanging out in the library or in the media room ? Reading books, playing video games , watching movies ?
Geektastic is the perfect anthology for anyone who has ever been called or considered themselves a geek and fear not readers as you are not alone as the anthology is written by a list of all our favourite authors and surpisingly they all share a tale in the land of geekdom from Holly Black who met her husband when they were rival Dungeon Masters and has a secret library hidden behind a bookshelf ( I told my bf that I want one of these in my house when I eventually buy one).Cecil Castellucci who waited in line for six weeks when Star Wars Episode One came out in Hollywood , Tracy Lynn who I discovered is also the author of The Nine Lives of Chloe King published under a psuedonym. Her claim to fame includes knowing Pi up to 12 digits and can recite The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy off by heart , Uglies Series author Scott Westerfield was a big fan of Dungeons and Dragons , Author Cassandra Clare is the author of a geeky online parody of Lord of the Rings - The Very Secret Diary , Husband and Wife writer team Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith had adorning their wedding cake - The Starship Enterprise.
Geektastic is a collection of 29 Short Stories from all your favourite and popular Teen/YA Authors and showing the world that us Geeks are not alone :)
A really fun read and an anthology that I recommend every Teenager whether they admit they are a geek or not should read.
on September 13, 2014
This is excellent so long as you know what you're getting into.
Okay, first, understand that this is strictly YA fare. Some YA books have cross-over appeal to older adults or younger kids, but that seems unlikely to be the case with this collection. All of the protagonists are social oddballs and misfits in high-school, and their vernacular and issues are teen-oriented; dealing with bullies is a frequent theme, as is dating for the first time and winning a robotics contest. There aren't really deeper thematic elements that might appeal to adults in most stories, as there are in crossover hits like "The Fault in Our Stars" or "Codename Verity." ALSO understand that, with the exception of two stories, this is entirely Realistic Fiction. There is one straight-up sci-fi story and one that borders on the fantastic, but mainly the stories are set in the real world of high school, camp, and comic conventions.
So, knowing what you're getting into, this is an excellent collection for what it's trying to be: a fun, whimsical, encouraging look at the trials and tribulations of being a geeky teenager. With the best stories, I laughed out loud, cringed at realistic, relatable awkwardness, and smacked my head at social blunders. While it does examine the lonely, socially isolating elements of nerd-dom, "Geektastic" never gets cynical. Nobody kills themselves or spirals into madness; instead, almost every hapless geek gets an optimistic ending.
Breezy read, fun, funny. Best story was by Kelly Link. A+
on November 27, 2009
I was delighted to see so many of my favorite authors in these pages and was really looking forward to receiving the book. Once it arrived, though, I found it hit or miss. My favorite authors wrote some of my least favorite stories, and authors I'd never heard of wrote some of my favorites. Fortunately, there's so much variety here that you're sure to find at least a story or two you enjoy, but I was hoping to enjoy *all* the stories, not just some of them.
The comics throughout are a fun touch and by the end, I found myself really looking forward to them. Of the stories, my favorite was "The Wrath of Dawn" by Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith. The narrator is charming and though the ending was a little *too* happy, the characters are so familiar by then that it's nice to see things turn out the way they do.
I won't spend time on my least favorite stories, but I will mention that something that did get a little trying was how much first person there was in the book. Done well, I love first person, but in short stories, it often feels more like a crutch--immediate audience intimacy delivered by forcing the reader to read "I" all the time--instead of like a carefully-made choice.
Definitely worth picking up at the library, and if you, like me, love many of the authors featured, you'll want a copy for your bookshelf. If all the authors are new to you and you have limited bookshelf space, I'd definitely suggest borrowing one to see for yourself if you enjoy the stories before bringing a copy home.
Geektastic is a combination of short stories and single-page graphic humor by some of today's hottest YA authors (M.T. Anderson, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Tracy Lynn, Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Barry Lyga, Wendy Mass, Garth Nix, Scott Westerfield, Lisa Yee, and Sara Zarr). The stories range anywhere from laugh out loud funny to some more serious and touching - and although I'm not a big fan of short stories - this one is definitely worth the read.
Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci's opening story "had me at hello" - just uproariously funny. Libba Bray's story and my new hero "David Leithan" - were amazing. I will confess there were some great stories and some not-so-great one's - but in the end I think it was a good all-around package. I really wasn't much of a geek during high school and at one point even doubted whether or not I was geek enough to get some of these stories- but other than a handful of references that went over my head - I felt right at home.
This is great reading for those of us who at one point were obsessed with Klingons, Jedis, Dr. Who, astronomy, dinosaurs, drama club, marching band, crushes, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Quiz Bowl, etc.
This is a must read for any geek, geeklover, or undercover geek. I'm totally doing the "live long and prosper hand signal" right now.