Title: The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love
Author: Sarvenaz Tash
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 14th, 2016
Length: 252 pages
Source: Gifted to me by Jess at Gone with the Words
Graham met his best friend, Roxy, when he moved into her neighborhood eight years ago and she asked him which Hogwarts house he’d be sorted into. Graham has been in love with her ever since.
But now they’re sixteen, still neighbors, still best friends. And Graham and Roxy share more than ever—moving on from their Harry Potter obsession to a serious love of comic books.
When Graham learns that the creator of their favorite comic, The Chronicles of Althena, is making a rare appearance at this year’s New York Comic Con, he knows he must score tickets. And the event inspires Graham to come up with the perfect plan to tell Roxy how he really feels about her. He’s got three days to woo his best friend at the coolest, kookiest con full of superheroes and supervillains. But no one at a comic book convention is who they appear to be…even Roxy. And Graham is starting to realize fictional love stories are way less complicated than real-life ones.
I love this new genre of contemporary YA that centers around genuine geek culture. And not every attempt at this makes the mark- but this one does. Every character in this novel felt real, like someone I know (and may have watched Firefly with, gone to SDCC with, or LARPed with). And although there’s plenty of geek references, it never feels forced or gratuitous. The Althena comic book story-within-a-story is a fun concept, and panels referenced throughout the story are spot-on with things I’ve experienced at a comic convention.
The romance itself is a well-done bittersweet tale: Graham focuses more on Big Gesture than immediacy (I have a brother who is like that- took him ages to propose to his now-wife because he bought the whole “it has to be a grand gesture to prove you really care” thing), and you get the sense he may never profess his feelings to Roxy. It’s paced like a John Hughes movie- humor, quirky friends, dramatic and also realistic blockers that keep the hero from confessing love for the heroine…but the best thing about this story is that it ISN’T all about the romance. The dramatic moment isn’t a confession of love, it’s the fallout. The learning and growing happens with each character- some learn to take risks, others learn to be more brave, others learn that life isn’t like geek fiction and that’s ok. Truly, by the end of the novel I wanted to hug each of these characters.
I loved this even more than I expected I would, and I can’t wait to read more from the author- she’s definitely got a handle on teens, complications, humor, and lyrical flow.