Geek Girl features Harriet Manners, a self-diagnosed geek (who happens to be named Manners. Manners.) She makes no secret of this fact, by the way - the book literally starts with something like. 'My name is Harriet Manners, and I am a geek.' Subtle. She then goes on to use the dictionary definition of the word geek, and into a scene where she's essentially being the biggest drama queen of all time.
And man, it was so much fun.
I've probably said this so many times on the blog by now that it's meaningless, but I consider my normal genres YA science fiction, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, fantasy - things like that. This is a YA contemporary, plain and simple, but I saw it on display in my local Waterstones and just had to pick it up because of three things.
(1) Derek Landy had mentioned Holly before on Twitter (and as you all know, I am in love with his Skulduggery books - take my reviews of some of them here and here for example). So that was a pretty great recommendation.
(2) The cover. What a gorgeous cover.
(3) The first page. Starts straight in with Harriet's distinctive voice and keeps you turning pages.
Look, I just made a list! I'm a lot like Harriet in some ways. Some. Not all. I don't have a habit of hiding under tables when the going gets tough, although I have been known to lie on the floor ... or sit on the table ... or plonk myself down on a desk whenever the fancy strikes me. I'm not sure whether Harriet cares if people like her or not. She's very self-deprecating (to a fairly irritating fault) but then again she does geek out all the time. Can she just not help it?
Anyway, this is less of a review and more of a ramble at the moment, so I think some kind of plot summary is in order.
It's really very simple. Compared to a lot of dystopians, SF, fantasy, etc., there's actually very little plot. But it's okay.
Beginning: Harriet is going along as normal with her dad and stepmother Annabel, best friend Nat, stalker Toby (more on that in a minute) and bully Alexa. She's a total geek, and she seems happy enough like that - or at least, she doesn't know any other way.
Inciting Incident: Nat cajoles Harriet into coming to The Clothes Show, a fashion show a few hours away. There, she manages to knock down several racks of goods (amassing damages of £3,000) - oh, and she also gets scouted by a model agent for a famous agency.
Middle: Harriet accepts the invitation and goes off to modelling land to do photoshoots and catwalk s for famous designers (approximately a day after she's scouted. Approximately.) She also lies to pretty much everyone (silly Harriet). By the way, none of this is really spoilers because, as I said, this book is most definitely not plot-based.
Ending: ... Okay, I won't tell you that. I do have limits.
The reason the lack of plot didn't matter to me was that the writing is bloody gorgeous. Seriously. Okay, maybe gorgeous isn't the right word - it's not fancy-pants literary fiction or anything. But it's exceedingly witty and observant and fun.
You know what? I'm in a listy mood tonight.
What I liked:
(1) The writing - see above.
(2) Annabel, Harriet's stepmother's characterisation. At first she comes across as standard evil stepmother, but as it turns out she's just human (and sharper than they took her for). Also, my favourite, very heartwarming scene is between her and Harriet.
(3) It doesn't take itself too seriously. Some reviewers have complained about Wilbur's abundance of names for Harriet (Petal, Sponge-finger, Chocolate-drops, Baby-baby Unicorn... but I thought they were impressively inventive, and must have been fun to write.
(4). Nick. Just Nick, in general.
(5) Nat's sassiness. For example:
Nat rolls her eyes, "I was never going to hate you FOREVER, Harriet. Just a couple of days.""But you said...""We were FIGHTING. What did you want me to say? I'll hate you for about thirty six hours until I've calmed down a bit?"(6) The author herself. Damn, she's hella cool and nice.
(7) The fact that Harriet doesn't consider herself conventionally pretty, but was chosen for her quirkiness. Also, Wilbur's endearing idea that everything she does is intentional.
What I didn't like:
(1) It requires that you suspend disbelief to an absurd degree. In the space of about three days Harriet goes from reluctantly attending a clothes show to headlining a major fashion show. Huh. It's alright though, because the story is so fluffy and enjoyable you can just let it pass as long as you don't think about it too hard.
(2) Toby, the stalker. Don't get me wrong - Toby's scenes were pretty funny. But there was something niggling at the back of my mind: stalking is Not Okay, and it was being used as comic relief. Seriously, Toby literally followed her everywhere and memorized her schedule. He's also an uber-nerd - supposed to reflect her, I guess? Which means one of two things:
(a) Harriet is about to start stalking someone.
(b) Toby is going to become a supermodel.
Also, Holly Smale and I had a lovely conversation on Twitter (AKA she replied to my tweets. Several times. Hell to the yeah!). She's awesome. (She's @HolSmale, if you want to follow her).
Currently reading Fractured, sequel to Slated by Teri Terry (my review here).