Review: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

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Published: 14 March 2017

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Category: Young Adult/Contemporary/LGBT (Queer/Bisexual)

When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Rating: 5 Stars

As someone that found a lot of comfort and some friends through anime, manga, and video games beginning in high school, I will almost always give any book regarding conventions and fans because they remind me of some of the best times of my life. For a period of about nine years I even attended a local anime convention until it moved locations, though I never had the opportunity to attend the San Diego Comic Convention (SDCC), which I’m confident the con in Queens of Geek is based upon.

Starting with the first steps of Charlie, Taylor, and Jamie into the hallowed halls of the con to beat all cons, SupaCon, I felt immediately welcomed home. There were references to all kinds of different books, movies, and games, most of which I understood. There were people whose names were dropped as being admired by one character or another (Felicia Day, for example, is mentioned more than once!). I hope and really think that all of these will make the work even more appealing to fellow fans because they will see their favorite series possible mentioned or even talked about in-depth.

Along with the wild enjoyment of con activities, Jen Wilde tackles multiple important subjects with relation to mental illness, sexual identity, etc. and of the examples, I liked the one where Taylor and Charlie confront Charlie’s (at the time) boyfriend Reese about his “belief” that bisexual people don’t exist. He claims to be for gay rights and marriage, but states that he doesn’t believe in bisexuality. Taylor, usually the quieter of the two friends, sees how much this bothers Charlie, a bisexual woman. Reese asks Charlie how she could know she was bisexual if she’d never been with a girl and Taylor stands up for her by asking Reese how he could know he was straight before he was with a girl. This highlights an excellent point: just because you haven’t had a sexual encounter doesn’t mean you can’t know your sexuality. Just because you’re with a man or woman at the time doesn’t negate your bisexuality if  that is who you are. This lead to a vital quote from Charlie:

“You can’t pick and choose whose equality you support. That’s not equality.”

I loved meeting Josie, a fellow Firestone book/movie lover that introduces Taylor to her comic books featuring as autistic superhero. It’s through their interactions that we learn that Taylor is on the autistic spectrum and what, with the interactions she’s had thus far that we’ve seen, this means for her in social situations and in her life in general. I was not aware when I started this book that one of the viewpoints was from an autistic character and I thought that this was interesting because recently I’ve been reading awkward, horrible representation of such characters. I didn’t find this here and actually found myself learning more about autism through Taylor’s experience.

Alyssa was another important character. A vlogger and actress like Charlie, it’s mentioned several times that she speaks a lot about topics such as diversity, intersectionality, and so on. As Charlie’s love interest, I’m glad that she had substance and wasn’t just the love interest. She might have more of a following on YouTube and more Hollywood star power, but she’s not a throwaway, she’s someone who spoke about important issues before becoming well known and continues to use her exposure to talk about them rather than, say, sacrifice them for what a studio might want her to do.

This book was a fun, fast, exciting read from Jen Wilde that makes me wonder what she will show us next. There was lightness in moments, but also strength in the characters and in the experiences they were going through: first love, societal pressure, heartbreak, personal expectations, and more.

I’ll be keeping an eye on Wilde’s future works, hoping for another excellent read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.
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