I’m going apologize in advance for this review, because the majority of this is going to be dissecting the main character, MG, and why she’s is the worst main character I’ve ever read, second only to Jazz from Artemis. If you want to skip to my review of the actual story, scroll down to the last few paragraphs.
MG is incredibly rude and abrasive, particularly to those she sees as not being “geeks,” calling them “Muggles” instead. In the beginning of the novel, she is visited in her office (she works as a comic writer) by a detective, and is rude and condescending to him, like he’s inconveniencing her by being there, despite the fact that she is the one who led him to investigate her in the first place. (She noticed him reading about a crime scene in a coffee shop while she was in line behind him, and mentioned that it looked like something out of an old comic.) It’s like she’s never even heard of CSI, which is where the general public tends to get their facts on how crime scene investigations are run. Later, he shows up at her house to get more information (seriously – crime scenes are a time sensitive matter!) and she gets mad at him. I seriously can’t with the idiocy of this chick.
She goes out of her way to let the reader know that she isn’t like other girls, fussing over stereotypes and making sure that people can tell that she is different. I think that’s one of the main things that rubs me the wrong way: she looks down on anybody who society would consider to be “normal.” She comments on another woman’s hairstyle by saying it’s “too severe” and “not creative enough,” which I’m like, don’t put anyone down, but especially not another woman!
Every. Single. Male is considered to be ONLY AFTER HER BOOBS. Seriously! Not every guy is there to just stare at your chest and leer at you! AND YET, every single male figure she encounters IMMEDIATELY looks at her chest OR looks her up and down like a piece of meat. Seriously?!
At one point, she mentions her first job – in a comic store – where she wasn’t allowed to run a register “because she was a girl.” Wait, what? I mean, I understand sexism in comic shops, but if you’re going to isolate a girl and keep her from real work, you put her on the freaking register. This sentence is when I knew I was going to have the hardest time finishing the book, and I was barely 10% into it. The more I read, the more I can see that the author is a bitter geek girl who let a few things get to her when she was younger, and feels the need to write the way the world should be by having her character be a gatekeeper. MG’s friend, Ryan, is praised for asking if she/the hairstylist want to participate in a gaming tournament, and MG is all starry-eyed over him for treating her like an actual human being. She also moans and whines about how her friends have found their niches in their careers, but she can’t accept that she has made it until she has absolute power in her particular comic company. That’s not how the world works.
MG also insults The Princess Bride.
She calls herself a Gryffindor, when she’s obviously a Slytherin, or at the very least a Hufflepuff. And the detective, Matteo, acts as if he’s never heard of Harry Potter. I don’t care who you are, if you grew up in the US and are around Matteo’s supposed age, you know about Harry Potter. He’s never heard of Twilight, either. This discussion leads to a whole introduction of “fandoms” and what they are, and it’s so condescending. Then it comes out that Matteo has never seen Star Wars and has only a brief, fleeting knowledge of it…
Look, I know people like that exist. But it’s just so obvious that the author is trying to make these two such COMPLETE OPPOSITES of one another that it’s just not working. You don’t need to make them black and white to show that they’re different! You also don’t have to fall in love with someone who is your opposite (actually, I totally advise against that, if my experiences have taught me anything…). Just be yourself and find someone who respects you. It’s not that hard. Also, this line:
Instead of being repulsed by his non-Geekdom, I’m inarguable attracted by it.
You’re using him as an object, putting him into a box, forcing a set of rules onto him, just like you don’t like anybody doing to you. Congratulations.
She’s so against “normal” people, too, insulting them and painting all of them with the same brush by saying they all want her to “tone it down” and “be less her.” I wanted to shake her and say, “It’s not “non-geek” people who are the only ones like that! Geeky guys can be, too! What you’re doing is DATING THE WRONG TYPE OF PERSON!” It doesn’t matter what their hobbies are (except if they’re a serial killer, of course), but it DOES matter the way they treat you. She’s dated losers for so long that she is falling in love with the first half-decent person she meets (the detective, Matteo). It’s so forced and so awkward and it doesn’t work.
At one point she INTERRUPTS RYAN’S JOB, where he’s playtesting a game for HIS JOB AS A GAME DESIGNER, and complains that she “couldn’t date a gamer” because they were only focused on one thing, and also Ryan’s job is “all-consuming at times.” Excuse me, WHAT?! This is his actual job, and you’re complaining that he’s doing it? This girl has some seriously unhealthy relationship issues and probably needs to see a shrink. Also, Ryan takes off his headset at one point and everyone in the game chat immediately starts throwing out crude and sexual remarks, which is no longer believable in the online gaming community, as most people are really pleasant and the only ones who do that are 12 and under. (Plus, if she hates gaming so much, one line in the next chapter doesn’t make sense: “My heart careens like a Mario-kart around a curve.” Also, not how you spell Mario Kart.)
Also, for someone who is so dead-set on being a strong woman and “not being like other girls” (just writing that sentence makes me barf), she sure does a good job of doing the whole “falling head-over-heels in love” with the main dude. She even refers to him as “an adult,” although I’m pretty sure that at her age, most people have their lives together. She’s the odd one out here. She’s shocked that an “adult” could have a cool life, and not spend their whole time going to work, reading the news, and going to bed. I can’t remember how old this chick is, but she has to be like 17, right? There’s no way you can get to your thirties and be this naiive. [I found out that her coworker’s wife had a 15-year high school reunion recently. So, just by doing math, this chick is, at a minimum, 28 years old. She is far too old to be acting like this.]
In short, MG is a manic pixie dream girl written by a female author who is still holding over some bitterness from her upbringing/formative geek years, and it shows. I realize that my experience is not everybody’s and that there are some real gross nerds out there who do only see women as eye candy, but that has shifted significantly over the years. I will say that the last quarter or third of the book is a little better, because I was able to read it without rolling my eyes quite as much as I was in the beginning.
So I know that everything in the above paragraphs was a bunch of gibberish. I do want to tell you that this story does get a little better. The last few chapters were pretty good, mainly because MG stops caring about what other people think of her and starts acting like a real person instead of hating everything and everyone that steps into her path. Does the ending redeem the rest of the book? No.
It’s still pretty poorly-written, and there are a few things that could have used more fact-checking (mainly as to where Griffith Observatory is situated in LA, because I’ve been there and it’s not where the author claims it to be). The present tense does not really work for the storytelling style, but then again I’m not a fan of first-person present-tense anyway. But The Hunger Games started the trend and now everyone thinks they have to do it, too.
The ending ties itself together, and I especially like the story once the drag queens show up. In fact, once they get to the Con, everything starts to fall into place. But then the author goes and pulls an old trick: putting in an epilogue that takes place two months after the end of the story, not even showing us how everything came together in the courts, and having the characters summarize it to each other. I wanted to bang my head against the wall. (I couldn’t throw the book, because it’s an ebook.) You were so close!
In total, I’d give this 2/5 stars, because while the story is worn out and overdone, and the main character is a completely awful person, there were a few fun scenes in it. I’m just going to file this away in the “Never open again” category and mark the author down in the “Do Not Read” section. I know it’s her debut novel, but she needed a lot more editing before releasing this one into the wild. At least I know that if I go with that literary agency, I might be able to get something published super easily.