Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd
Edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci
Stories by John Green, M.T. Anderson, Kelly Link, Cassandra Clare, Greg and Cynthia Leitich Smith, Kelly Link, Libba Bray, Tracy Lynn, David Levithan, Barry Lyga, Garth Nix, Wendy Mass, Scott Westerfield, Lisa Yee, and Sara Zarr
Illustrations by Hope Larson and Bryan Lee O'Malley
Why does something I loved this much feel like such a misfire? This book contains stories for every kind of geek: lj RP, cosplay, D&D, Buffy, and more. For pan-fandom geeks, it's a godsend. Like any short story collection I loved some more than others, but the writing was generally strong.
However, I felt like I relied on the knowledge I've learned from seven or so years as a Queen of Nerds (ask me for my credentials). GEEKTASTIC is not inclusive. I think most people without geeky or nerdy inclinations will be left behind. And I hate to admit it, but geeks are the minority. (I could be wrong. As I said, I'm a knowledgeable audience. This is pure extrapolation.)
I hope there is a huge audience for GEEKTASTIC. It's a celebration of subculture. Who wants to be mainstream when having a hobby can be so rewarding? And these authors have a sizeable following for a reason - and I know some of their fanbases are pretty nerdy.
If you're a geek, do yourself a favor and pick up GEEKTASTIC. It's hard to choose a favorite, but it might be "Quiz Bowl Antichrist" by David Levithan, which brought back days of junior high Whiz Quiz and organizing my high school's St. Jude's Trivia Challenge.
So Punk Rock (And Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother)
By Micol Ostow
Illustrations by David Ostow
Which brings me to a book to which I am an outsider to the culture presented. Most of what I know comes from reading the Old Testament and talking to my friend at Girls State who had trouble with the meals. (Apparently you can only have one dairy item with a meal, which is difficult when everything has cheese on it.)
Ari Abramson knows who he is. He just doesn't know how to reveal that person to others. So he convinces his friend Jonas Fein, geeky Yossi, and Yossi's sister Reena to start a band. Though they start out not knowing how to play their instruments, pretty soon they're a MySpace sensation with a real gig. Of course, they still have SATs, parents, and holy days to worry about. It doesn't help that Jonas is kind of a jerk.
SO PUNK ROCK is a quick read that manages to share a great deal about being Jewish-American without bogging down the proceedings. There's a great glossary in the back, but I didn't need to use it while reading.
I also enjoyed the juxtaposition of standard prose with graphic novel sections. It makes you wonder whether the comics are supposed to be a representation of Ari's work or if Ari's work is totally different and they simply represent how he thinks. SO PUNK ROCK continues Flux's history of rocking my socks. It doesn't hurt Micol Ostow's track record with me either.