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I recieved an ARC copy of Geek Girl from the publisher for an honest review.
So, what's the novel about?
Seventeen year-old Jen has spent her life shuffling through numerous foster homes due to her mother serving jail-time and her having been killed. There was once a family to which she belonged and loved but due to unfortunate circumstances she had to leave.
From that moment on Jen chose to stay in control of her foster situation; she would hold herself emotionally distant from the families she stayed with and would leave when she decided. Meaning she would kick-up her rebellion a notch and ultimately her behaviour would ensure her departure.
On a typical school day, boredom strikes for Jen and knowing it's about time she moved on from current foster family- the Clarks, she makes a bet with two of her friends that she can turn a geek 'bad', like her. The prize she'll receive from them is a lip-piercing and of course, she'll leave with a bang.
Seeing clean-cut Trevor among his geeky friends, his shirt buttoned right the way to the top, yet possessing somewhat handsome looks; Jen chooses him. Only one up from the geeks in the social pecking order, the goth girl sets about tactfully involving herself in Trevor's world.
At first he is stunned when she approaches him at a party, but recovers well and invites her along to spend time with him and his geeky friends. It isn't long before Jen finds herself participating in Sci-Fi movie-thons, volunteering in a senior centre and bowling- all while agreeing to supply her friends with a progress report.
It soon becomes evident to Jen that being out of her dark comfort zone is turning out to be not as cringe-worthy as she expected it to be. It is then the terms of the bet change in Jen's eyes.
Instead of turning Trevor bad to win the piercing, he has to turn into a fellow rebel so Jen can feel more deserving of him...Aww
Worth the read?
My first reaction to this novel as a whole is 'Awww'. Hardly an astute reaction, but it is fitting.
What began as a story about an insensitive bet a teenage trouble-maker makes, then evolved into the sweetest, most heart-breaking and romantic tale of forgiveness, acceptance and love.
Bennett has highlighted a stage we all remember experiencing in our teenage years, the drama, awkwardness, insecurity and feelings on love/ lust. It is all knowingly credible, from the 'social groups' at school, the journey of self-discovery and right down to the typical dialogue between the teens. This novel will bring back school memories to everyone.
I'll be honest, Jen's troubled character was hard to like at first. Bennett laced up her sometimes cruel personality with humour and i knew that, of course, there had to be more to why Jen acted in the insecure way she did, so with that i kept reading.
Jen's character was developed gradually and carefully, changing though keeping the naturally gained traits from her troubled life; her suspicion of everyone and low-self esteem.
The changes to her personality were completely believable and seemed to coincide with her surroundings. For example, there is a moment after her defensive walls are knocked down when she realises she has not put her personality into her bedroom. It remained exactly how it was when she first moved in; she never felt the need to add personal objects or things. This tied in well with a point when Jen was changing.
It was truly heart-breaking reading about her past and her reactions to being treated nice by her foster parents. She couldn't believe there wasn't a catch to simple pleasant gestures. There was a moment where she casually compared herself with Spock, from Star Trek, stating his difference from those around him- like her. Though it wouldn't seem so just reading this, it did really pull on my heart-strings whilst i was engrossed in the novel.
I'm thankful that Jen's character didn't change in ways for love interest, Trevor. This would have been a horrible direction for kids/ readers to take note of. Instead, she begins to look at the world and people around her differently than she previously had been doing while living with the burden of her past.
Trevor, for me shouldn't have worked. His character was almost perfect and usually to a reader that can seem quite unreal and hard to relate to. You begin to see the cracks though when Jen takes him to her friends' parties.
Actually, even then he was cool, calm and collected the majority of the time. But anyway, it truly didn't matter and his character did work. The focus of the novel is their developing relationship and their undeniable chemistry that jumped from the pages.
The other characters within the story, i feel, were a necessary inclusion. Trevor's geeky friends, Jens rebellious crowd, Mrs Green (in the study with the candlestick, lol) and the 'angel' who comes into Jens life, all fuelled the development of the plot and gave the duo the tools to progress as characters.
I think the novel as a whole teaches valuable lessons: find who you are and accept yourself, accept others for who they are-even if they are different from you and most of all cherish what you have and the people in your life. Oh and of course, learn to love and be loved in return. *Mind flashes to the dialogue in movie 'Moulin Rouge'*
It touched upon the brutal topics of drug-use and different forms of abuse, but Bennett didn't focus on the specifics when revealing them- she was brief and to the point, then moved on in a way that balanced out the drama with the fun.
Overall i really did enjoy this YA novel and i would recommend it. I love the cover too.
It was well-written and one which stirred all my emotions at some point or another. But for reasons i'll not go into, for fear of revealing too much; i wouldn't read it again. For me it's one of those books that once you've read it, you've found out all the shock factors and it wouldn't be as exciting again.
Five stars from me. Bennett did a great job of keeping me engrossed, entertained and shocked. Recommended to all!
Paperback, 318 pages
Published July 26th 2010
Available on Amazon from £6.09 for paperback or £3.68 for Kindle.
Thanks for reading.
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