I’m just going to do something I haven’t done for this blog yet, and that is to review a series rather than an individual book. The reason for this is that it’s summer so I’ve got more time on my hands to lose myself in the fabulous world of books and it saves everyone time and effort as you don’t have to read 6 reviews talking about the same thing. How forward thinking of me!
Anyway, so the Geek Girl series, what to say…? Well, first off, I thoroughly enjoyed it actually. I haven’t read true young/teen fiction in a while and it was surprisingly nice to view the world from more innocent eyes. It always made me chuckle how the main protagonist, Harriet Manners, wouldn’t swear but would choose to say Sugar Cookies instead. Mind you, I don’t think the F word would go down too well within a book that has a recommended reading age of 11+!
In spite of this wonderful innocence I forgot and was repeatedly reminded of, what usually accompanies this characteristic; OH MY GOD, I have never read such a first person narrative from such a naive person! At points it almost had me screaming at the book saying “What are you doing? Why do you think that is a good idea?” However, despite these bouts of shear bewilderment at the psychology Harriet, I also loved the character as well. Kinder the same way you love your sibling I guess, they’re annoying but you wouldn’t wish an ounce of harm on them. Repeatedly, Harriet would misjudge a situation, body language or an overheard conversation and create a thought which is so looking at the wrong end of the stick that she properly is in fact holding another stick entirely! Let’s just say that she is book smart not people smart.
A nice thing about this series is that every book has similarities but the plot is essentially different. It never feels like a repetition or that author, Holly Smale, is running out of ideas. It’s almost the opposite, Smale keeps finding ways in which Harriet manages to mess up again and again in wonderfully colourful ways. One of my favourite was her revising physics whilst simultaneously doing a fashion shoot; sign of a true Geek right there. Which brings me back to the running theme within the whole series: What life is like to be a teenager, the pros (not worrying about academia) and the cons (being bullied, being socially inept in this case). In fact, I would say that underneath the light hearted humour, Smale addresses some key psychological issues.
The damage that bullying does to people mentally can be found in Harriet’s uncertainty, anxiety and sheer want to become someone else. For me this struck home, as I have had similar self-doubts that have held me back and it is wonderful to see how the character evolves from her many mishaps into a wonderful, bright, confident young adult in the end.
Smale gives all the predominant characters in these books vibrancy and depth, which gives the slightly dream worthy luck Harriet has in the modelling world, a bit more of a realistic element. What I mean by this is that, although the opportunities and events that happen to Harriet can be quite elaborate at times, the character’s reactions help to make the situation believable. For example, at one stage Harriet goes to the big city (won’t tell you where as I don’t want to spoil) for the day and doesn’t tell her parents. As a result, they go mental and search the whole neighbourhood in panic. Smale reflects beautifully what any parent would do if their child went missing, whilst also conveying the betrayal and frustration that Harriet feels for not being trusted and ‘treated like an adult’. Not realising that most adults would say where they were going in the first place.
Wilbur with a ‘bur’ and not a ‘ber’ (hint: read the book and you’ll know the joke), is one of my favourite characters. At first, I hated his mindboggling language when he calls people ‘baby baby panda’ or some other totally weird name instead of their actual name. However, by the end of the first book I began to love him. He is just so upbeat and the clothes Smale would describe him in always made me chuckle. They were all so diabolically imaginative and ‘creative’ that only Wilbur could ever get away with. Then there is stalker Toby. Toby is the caricature of the suggestion that if you’re a genius you have no idea how to socially interact correctly. The way he is so literal is almost too much. Honestly, if Harriet found Toby attractive they would have been perfect for each other. Two little polar bears in the big rainforest (Again read the books 😉 ). So finally, one of my other favourite characters is Nick. LOVE him. Honestly Harriet couldn’t be luckier to know someone like him if she tried. I like that he breaks the stereotypes of what you think an attractive and successful male model would be like. Not only is he nice, he is kind and funny and thoughtful. So, like I said, she is a very lucky girl!
Although this has maybe been one of the more frustrating reads I’ve had in a while due to the naivety, it was also one of my more enjoyable reads too due to the character development and funny facts that are dotted throughout the novel.
Recommendations: if you like seeing character development, especially that of building confidence then look no further than Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella. It is about a girl slowly learning to not be scared of the world and finally leaving her house. It is a sweet and heart-warming story and a gentle read to accompany the summer sun. Or another lovely narrative is Paper Towns by John Green (you may have watched the movie, I haven’t).