Author: Jen Wilde
Published: March 2017
Source: publishers via NetGalley
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, Jason 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.
Queens of Geek is a NA contemporary set up along pretty basic plotlines: A trio of friends find love amidst all kinds of nerdery over a Con. It's a simple enough story, and a short one at that with just 288 pages, and yet it manages to be diverse, inclusive, and intersectional -- not to mention shippy as hell. In the two main romances that form the bulk of her book, Jen Wilde features: a character on the autism-spectrum, a bisexual female character of Asian descent, a woman of color, and a boy of Hispanic or Latin descent (it's not made expressly clear which). It's so refreshingly nonhetero and non-mayonnaise. This is by far the best title that Swoon Reads has to offer to date; a fun, entertaining, but also heartfelt contemporary novel.
Nerdy to the core, Queens of Geek is an easy rec to make for readers who enjoy books with pop culture influences (both real and imagined) and fan-involved themes like the ones found in Geekerella, Gena/Finn, or Fangirl. The honest depiction of the inclusiveness of fandom -- of finding your people -- is one of the parts I loved most about Queens of Geek. Taylor's devotion to her Queen Firestone books and movies is pivotal in improving her life and in understanding who she is; fandom enriches her story and that's believable. Anyone who finds a niche interest shared among a group knows how that resonance feels and Wilde shows it in developing Taylor's storyline. Firestone gave a lot to Taylor and its impact on her life is important (not only because it led to her finally finding common ground with her autism spectrum diagnosis!) and recognizable.
The entire cast of characters in this contemporary really shine and come to life; I (kinda obviously) connected most to Taylor and her storyline but her best friends of Charlie and Jamie are each well-rounded and defined in their own rights. The bond between the trio is strong and I loved seeing Charlie support Taylor and vice versa, no matter what circumstances. Even tropes that usually disrupt my enjoyment of a relationship work under Wilde's pen due to the strength of her characterization. The romance between Charlie and Alyssa feels accelerated - especially contrasted with the fact that Jamie and Taylor caught feelings years ago and never acted on them, the adorable awkward dorks - but it's also realistic and their chemistry is undeniable.
Queens of Geek is so much adorable geeky, inclusive entertainment. It's pure fun to read, though it definitely packs an emotional punch or two. I loved that it took pains to be intersectional (though the explanation of the term itself felt stiff, I did not care because I just loved that it was there in the first place) and that the diversity itself was a nonissue. I loved both the years-gestating romance and the instalove that sprang up beside it. Sweet and empowering, Queens of Geek left me eagerly awaiting whatever Jen Wilde writes next.