Hey all, Dani here.
I am a geek, and as such I absolutely love to read books where the main characters are fangirls and fanboys, or that geekdom is a big part of their lives. Needless to say, I was super excited to find out about this book, and I flew through it pretty quickly. So let’s just start geeking out and jump into the review already.
Equal parts Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl and Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie, this fiercely crafted feminist YA novel takes on fandom, accountability, and doing the right thing. Even when it hurts.
Lainey wouldn’t mind lugging a camera around a video game convention for her brother, aka YouTube superstar Codemeister, except for one big problem. He’s funny and charming online, but behind closed doors, Cody is a sexist jerk.
SamTheBrave came to this year’s con with one mission: meeting Codemeister—because getting his idol’s attention could be the big break Sam needs.
ShadowWillow is already a successful streamer. But when her fans start shipping her with Code, Shadow concocts a plan to turn the rumors to her advantage.
The three teens’ paths collide when Lainey records one of Cody’s hateful rants on video. Because she’s determined to spill the truth to her brother’s fans—even if that means putting Sam and Shadow in the crosshairs.
Told through three relatable voices and arriving on the heels of the author’s widely praised debut novel, Kat and Meg Conquer the World, this sophomore novel is a nuanced and timely story about followers, fame, and fighting for what’s right.
Rating: 4 stars
I feel like we have gotten quite a few books that take place during a convention over the past couple of years. It’s an interesting way to set up a geeky themed story. There’s just something about being at a convention with so many people who are into the same stuff as you, though of course, there are always a few not-so-nice geeks there as well. Thankfully I can say that I haven’t really had to deal with any of the mean geeks in all of my convention trips.
Anyway, this book is a multi perspective tale, following three main characters: Lainie, Sam, and Marissa (mostly called Shadow or Willow or ShadowWillow in the book). Oh, and for those who read the author’s debut book, there’s another important character I should mention: LumberLegs, or shortened to just Legs. He was a video game streamer in Kat and Meg Conquer the World and he’s a more fully realized character in this one. That is one of my favorite parts about contemporary stories like this one–that they are starting to have a set of stand-alone tales that share a similar world or share some characters.
So, the reason why I can’t rate this book as highly as I did Kat and Meg Conquer the World is that I don’t think that some of the character decisions worked for me. I understand why they made the choices they did, but it didn’t have to be that way. Okay, so for this I’m going to talk about the romantic pairings in this book. I could tell early on that Lainie liked Legs and vice versa. Thankfully the two cute geeks finally managed to admit their feelings and get together. On the other end of things Shadow knows that a heck of a lot of online fans ship her with Code, and for the sake of increasing her subscriber count, she seems fine to go along with it, even though the chemistry between her and Code’s teammate Z is so blatantly obvious. By the end of the book, Shadow makes the decision to focus on just her streaming and tells the guys of Team Meister that she won’t date any of them, period. Which absolutely sucks. I get that she wants to be a successful gamer/streamer, but she and Z just work together so well. I guess I’m just hoping that there will be another book set in this contemporary world that has Z and Shadow finally getting together, because I so ship ShadowZ (would that be their ship name? Or would it be Zhadow?)
This book does a pretty decent job of showcasing some problems within the geek or even really just the online community. There are some nasty troll-like people in the comments section. Also, there are some content creators who can be misguided or bigoted or mysoginistic or just not realize when they say things that are harmful. I think that being aware of these issues is important, just like it is also important to be a force for good in both the online world and the physical one and to help lift up others as much as we can.
Where to Get a Copy
You can also borrow it from your local library.