Review by Caroline Hodges
Published by Stripes Publishing in June 2012
Pages - 352
If you haven't worked it out yet, girls don't do this. They don't come to the Hovel. They don't like goblins and dragons. They don't paint miniatures. They don't play role playing games or re-enact fictional battles. And they don't talk to Geeks like me especially if they're pretty. And this girl is pretty. What do you do if you're a fourteen-year-old Geek, and a Beautiful Girl has appeared in the midst of your geeky world? And she seems to like you... For Archie, the natural reaction would be to duck and cover ... run for the hills ... buy a new model elf... Anything but risk stepping into the Real World. But even Geeks have to put their heads above the parapet at some point. With his mum barely able to contain her excitement that her son is about to join the human race, and his step-father, Tony the Tosser, offering crass advice, it's time for Archie to embark on a daring Quest to win the Beautiful Girl's heart and shake off his Geekhood for good...
*********One Sunday afternoon it was time to choose a new book to read. With some barely disguised glee, I had finished a somewhat confusing book on my kindle – seriously, I’ve never been so close to not finishing a book! – and was on the prowl for a new adventure. I have a lot of unread books around my house. A LOT. Luckily my partner can’t see the other unread books on my kindle though I suspect he knows they’re there. ‘Gollum-like,’ to steal a slice of Geekhood, I prowled my shelves. There were two books in particular that I’d been itching to read. I seized one and settled down. Meh, it just wasn’t grabbing me. Flinging it behind the sofa, I reached for the other (that’s for dramatic effect, I actually replaced it lovingly on the shelves, who could harm a nice new book??!). Again I was disappointed! This isn’t to say that these are bad books, I’m sure they’ll prove awesome, but I think because I’d just finished something kind of mediocre, I just couldn’t bear to be reading anything else that wasn’t immediately seizing my attention.
Enter Geekhood, with its bright orange cover and a slogan nodding to that cult movie all geeks adore. Within a few pages, I was thrown into my younger days, but with a slightly more masculine element. Where it’s RPG gaming for our hero Archie, I had World of Warcraft and competing with model horses. Where Archie and his friends spend their weekends hidden in the Hovel deciding which miniatures to buy and paint up next, I spent mine lodged in book shop aisles figuring which I should choose to buy with my oh so valuable – and limited - funds.
It’s a stunning portrayal of a young male teen geek. It doesn’t take itself seriously – there’s more than the fair share of self-mockery in there that one can’t help thinking is too accurate to possibly not stem from real life author experience. And undoubtedly that’s what makes it both believable and frustrating for an older reader – I wanted to say ‘hey, Archie, relax! When you grow up, people are more forgiving – they’ve got over their own inadequacies and ego’s and moved on to more important things.’ But for a young reader, this book will have them saying ‘wow, it’s not just me.’
The true beauty of this book lies in its supporting cast; Archie’s fellow geeks remind us to thank God for friends who will forgive and forget when we’re acting dumb and ground us when we forget who we really are – where would we be without them? Matt in particular, shows true maturity in the level of peace he has reached with himself and what he is. Stepfather Tony is also a gem – don’t get me wrong, if I were Archie, I’d definitely think he was a “Tosser™” - but as an outsider looking in on Archie’s story, he seems like a good guy, making the best effort he can. Surprisingly, the object of Archie’s affection does nothing for me throughout the book, but then I think ultimately this just goes to show the depths of a geek – or indeed any – mind when it’s in love for the first time.
Three-quarters of the way through the book I got angry with Mr Robb. I was overtaken by righteous betrayal by Archie’s apparent transformation into non-geek! I mean, what’s wrong with being a geek? I took it like a personal insult! I mean I know plenty of geeks who have grown up just fine decent people, and yes married, with kids, all that ‘normal’ stuff. Was the author trying to suggest Geekhood was wrong?! What’s going on here?!
Luckily, and with a huge sigh of relief, normality was resumed and I was very pleased with the way the relationship between Sarah and Archie was left by the end. Not because Archie’s a geek and it was ‘inevitable,’ but because that’s life and very few first loves work out. After all, it takes time for true soul mates to find each other, and I’m really hoping there will be future books when we can see Archie fall in love with the girl he really deserves.