April 15, 2013

Review: Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Geek Girl (Geek Girl #1)
Author: Holly Smale 
Release Date: February 28th, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Page Count: 378
Source: Received at a Launch Party
Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Harriet Manners knows a lot of things.

She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a "jiffy" lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn't quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she's spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend's dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.

As Harriet veers from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, she begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn't seem to like her any more than the real world did.

And as her old life starts to fall apart, the question is: will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

Harriet is a total geek. She's the one with all the useless facts who says the very thing everyone hopes no one will say in every situation. And she's a total klutz, which only makes matters worse. So it comes as a total surprise when she's spotted at a fashion show. Harriet wants to say no because her step-mother disapproves and her best friend is the one who's always wanted to be a model while Harriet could care less about clothing. But she says yes because she wants a change - she doesn't want to be the geek who gets picked on at school anymore. And while Harriet's goals are super admirable, clearly things can't go as planned.

Let's break this down:

There are a lot of characters I love in this book. Harriet's a bit nerdier than I ever was, but I totally get how she feels a lot of the time. Getting bullied is the worst when you're a kid so I get how torn she was about wanting to be a model to change herself while not wanting to betray her best (and only) friend. But I think my favorite thing about Harriet is that while bad things happen to her, she also does bad things herself.

What I mean to say is, sometimes I'll read a story and it seems like the MC is brilliant and perfect and bad things just happen to her and then she throws herself a pity party and it's only when the people around her change things for her do things really change. This isn't the case for Harriet. Harriet has it bad, tries to fix it, screws up and becomes something of a villain herself. Harriet's true growth only comes from realizing that she's become a kind of bad guy and that she has to accept who she is and fix things with the people who make her who she is before she can be really happy. Being a model is just the catalyst that forced her to realize all of this/something she now does to pay of the debts she owes from being super clumsy.

All of that being said about Harriet and the plot, I also really love Annabelle - the responsible one. She ALWAYS knows what's happening. Like a real parent. It's not that I don't like Harriet's dad. Sure, he's kind of irresponsible and that totally grated on me, but he's funny and very sweet at the end of it all. And then Wilbur, Yuka and Nick all brought me immense entertainment in their own ways.

I think my main issue with this book comes from Toby. I know a lot of people like him, but he absolutely creeps me out. Maybe I'm just the kind of girl who likes her space and wants no one up in it, but the thought of having some kid stalk me like that gives me the willies. He means well, just wants to bond with a fellow geek, yada yada yada, but he came off a tad bit too intense for me.

And as for Nat, Harriet's best friend, she annoyed me from a "I would never be friends with that girl" standpoint, but I totally got why she did what she did, y'know?

I'm not even gonna go into my feels about Alexa. She reminds me what teen bullies are capable of and I really don't want to relive. I will say that Holly Smale deals amazingly with the subject matter, all while keeping the book light and comical, which I totally love.

Anyway, character and plot analysis aside, I totally enjoyed the glimpse into the fashion world. The writing was also very quirky, which I LOVED - just as quirky and enjoyable as Harriet is, really. Aside from having a truly flawed protagonist, I think my favorite part of this book is how clever the composition is. The tone of the writing really matches the content of the story and the behavior of the main character.

Oh, and did I mention I really liked Nick? The story didn't need the love interest, but how could I say no to Lion Boy?

The long and short of it?

Plot: A story of the growth of a flawed, geeky teen who's just trying to figure herself out. I really love the honesty of it all.
World Building: Definitely believable, from the awful bullies to the crazy, whirlwind model adventure.
Character Development: Harriet's path is not only believable but understandable. And the way the people in Harriet's life deal with the changes and lying also definitely fits the bill.
Prose: Cute and quirky, just how I like it.
Would I Recommend This Book?: Geek Girl is a quick, quirky read. It's for a slightly younger audience than the usual YA book, but it's not quite Middle Grade, so if you're not into that, skip it, but it really is a lot of fun!

Were/are you a geek? How did/do you deal with bullies (if you had to)? And onto lighter topics, how adorable is Lion Boy? Seriously. Why would you have a real name when you can be Lion Boy?


  1. I almost want to pick this book up just because of the title. I think a lot of us know what it feels like to be a geek in one way or another, or even just want a change because your life isn't going right. For me, the only way I really survived bullies was by truly loving myself and clinging on to the those around me who accepted me. There were my bad days, of course, but somehow I toughed my way through it.

    Anyways, great review! I do like that the MC is flawed, and I'm curious by the quirky writing. This is definitely on my radar. Thanks :)

    1. I'm so glad this book is on your radar! It's just so cute!! And I'm sorry things were tough for you with the bullies. I totally get the feeling and I so wish these things wouldn't happen to anyone!! But I'm glad you made your way through it AND that you have GOOD DAYS because those are what's truly important ^_^

  2. I really want to read this book! It sounds super cute, and I get the feeling I'd very much enjoy it. I'm a sucker for books about girls who remind me of me... and that's certainly the case when it comes to Harriet. (Except the getting spotted at a show and modeling part...)

    I'm not a geek, per se, though I do like a few geeky things. I'm more of a nerd. And dealing with bullies always involved one of the following: ignoring them, slinging my own insults back and telling authority figures. It eventually lightened up when I hit high school (surprising since I went to an all girls school) :)

    1. I'm a MAJOR nerd (much less of a geek, to be sure), but both get bullied and THAT'S a problem. And that kind of stuff lightened up for my in HS too! I guess people got more self-absorbed? But that's SO FINE BY ME. And I was never very good at returning the insults. I am now. I wish I could send someone of my current sass back in time to young Gaby. She REALLY needed it.

      Anyway, I do hope you get to read this one! It's really just so cute!

  3. Annabelle was totally my favourite character. I loved seeing two involved parents in Harriet's life but it was Annabelle that I preferred. Bonus points for her being a step-parent!

    1. YES! Bonus points for step-parent goodness. I hate books that take the stereotypical evil step-parent and play it up. There definitely are good step-parents out there!!

  4. This book was so fun, and I'm so glad you read it (eventually) and enjoyed it, too. Harriet was just so wonderful. I couldn't relate to her in every way, but she definitely reminded me of myself sometimes. And Toby, oh boy. I hated him at first, and no, I don't like him per se. I wouldn't want a stalker either. I just think the way he was written was hilarious. The part where he was discussing Harriet's schedule with her (though I would have smacked him, probably) made me laugh. Overall, this book was just endearing and lovely :)

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!! Also, I get what you're saying about Toby, I just couldn't deal with it.

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