Thursday, July 9, 2009

Book Review: The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading

Title The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading
Authors Charity Tahmaseb and Darcy Vance
Genre YA Commercial Fiction
Rating B

Summary Self- (and school-) proclaimed geek girl, Bethany Reynolds, and her equally geek-tastic friend, Moni (aka, Ramona, "The Pest"), decide to upset the balance of power at their Minnesota high school and try out for cheerleading... and make it. And then (with the power shifted) things start to shift around for both of the girls--boys, school, friends, etc., all change in the lives of these two charming geeks.

First Line "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a high school boy in possession of great athletic ability must be in want of... A bowl of oatmeal."

Review This book was a fun, quick read that I finished in a night. And thought about for the next day. Then I added the attributes of smart and a fresh twist on a currently-hot well-worked plot trope of mixing classes.

It's fun and quick because the dialogue is funny and sounds like teenagers living their actual lives, instead of sounding like adults writing how they think teenagers talk.

It's smart because it didn't fall into the expected trap (that I feared it might) where the geek girl, after dating and then being spurned by the cool guy, realizes that the geek guy who was her friend all along is really the man of her dreams. They actually write:
"'You know those teen movies, the ones where there's a girl and these two guys, the jock and the dork?... The whole audience knows she's supposed to end up with the other guy,' he said. 'You know, the dork?' I gave the slightest of nods. 'Well, this isn't the movies... And I'm not that guy.'
'You're not that guy." (p. 232).
They bucked traditional teen lit stereotypes at this point and at a couple of other points as the story progresses further. Very smart.

It took a fresh twist on the current plot device that's popping up everywhere (I actually found this book in a display of "Geek Girl" YA books at Barnes & Noble) by fusing their new work with a work of classic literature, Pride and Prejudice, as a motif throughout the book. The themes from that classic work of literature show up in this book as well, and influence these characters' thinking, validating Michael Chabon's quote, "All noves are sequels; influence is bliss." This isn't to say that their book is simply derivative, it's a blog-style pat on the back to say, "Kudos for honoring the great authors who have come before you and showing that their work can be accessible, even to the youth of today."

Recommendation This was a fun read and I recommend to people who have enjoyed books by authors such as Susane Colasanti (e.g., When It Happens), Josie Bloss (e.g., the Band Geek Series), Kieran Scott (e.g., Geek Magnet), or Elizabeth Scott (e.g., Perfect You).

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