By Piper Banks
Available now from NAL (Penguin)
SUMMER OF THE GEEK is the third in Piper Banks's Geek High series. I have not read the first two, GEEK HIGH and GEEK ABROAD, but the story was still easy to follow. Miranda Bloom attends a high school for the gifted, which is currently out of session for the summer. She's working as a baby-sitter; her boyfriend Dex is a lifeguard. Being a lifeguard, he's looking at lots of pretty girls in bikinis - including Wendy, his ex-girlfriend the model. Speaking of models, Miranda's stepsister Hannah wants to be one. Unfortunately, the 'rents aren't so big on that. (And that's not the only thing they're fighting with each other about.)
My favorite storyline was the baby-sitting one, despite its predictability. Amelia Fisher spends all her time playing the piano, which her parents encourage due to her talent. Banks does put a few welcome spins on the storyline. Amelia genuinely likes playing the piano; it isn't something her parents are forcing her to do. They've just taken it too far. In addition, after Miranda helps Amelia diversify her interests, Miranda also helps Amelia think through her reasons for doing so and present them logically to her parents. Yes, there is a big dramatic scene that undercuts some of this, but generally its a problem in a teen novel solved by people acting rationally.
The love triangle part seemed a little forced, especially juxtaposed with the baby-sitting storyline. Amelia can help Miranda communicate with her parents, she can talk to her stepsister to help their parents, but she can't talk to her boyfriend? (Not just about Wendy, but about her own decision about whether to move to England with her mom.) Of course, teens do do silly things when it comes to relationships.
Overall, SUMMER OF THE GEEK will appeal to both geeks and non-geeks looking for a light summer read. (Miranda's ideas of appropriate summer activities don't include marathons of the extended versions of the Lord of the Rings movies. Clearly, she hangs out with a different set of geeks than I do.) While the boyfriend-girlfriend stuff is typical, both parent storylines are well-done and could be helpful for readers. SUMMER OF THE GEEK will probably appeal more to tweens than teens. I don't recall any objectionable content.