Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash

"When you live for stories, when you spend so much of your time immersed in careful constructs of three and five acts, it sometimes feels like you're just stumbling through the rest of life, trying to divine meaningful narrative threads from the chaos. Which, as I learned the hard way this weekend, can be painfully fruitless. Fiction is there when real life fails you. But it's not a substitute..."

Graham and Roxy are best friends. They have been best friends since Graham moved in next door when they were eight. She asked him what Hogwarts house he would be in (Ravenclaw) and he loved her ever since. Now, Graham and Roxy are sixteen. They moved from Harry Potter to comics, especially The Chronicles of Althena*. The two also created their own comic, which Graham writes and Roxy draws, called The Misfits of Mage High.

Graham has decided that he will tell Roxy how he feels at the upcoming New York Comic Con. It seems like fate when it is announced that the author of Althena, Robert Zinc, will be on a panel for the movie adaptation of his series. All Graham has to do is camp out overnight with his friend Casey, convince Casey to give him his ticket for Roxy, then get Roxy to skip school on Friday for the panel. So easy, right?

Unfortunately, Graham's plans implode. After spending the night on the street, the ticket line turns into a mad rush when it opens. Graham and Casey leave empty-handed. Thankfully, they still get to spend time at Comic Con with Roxy and her friend Felicia. It's Felicia's idea to take part in speed dating (A teens session, don't worry). Graham makes friends with a fellow Athena fan (Who managed to get into the panel) named Amelia. To Graham's horror, Roxy meets a handsome British guy named Devin, and they are acting a little too friendly for his comfort.

Poor Graham's Robert Zinc plan fell through, and now he has to witness Roxy flirting with another guy. He expects that things will turn around Saturday, when he planned to surprise Roxy with a John Hughes panel (Graham's deceased mother was a huge John Hughes fan, and Roxy and Graham watched her old movies). It's just his luck that Devin is also there on Saturday, and again sticking to Roxy's side. Our boy then decides that the perfect demonstration of his love is to purchase an original page from Althena from the auction for $500. It's at this point where I started to worry about the kid. Oh, honey, no.

Graham was okay, but sometimes ventured over into "nice guy" territory. He and Roxy have a lot in common, they have been friends for years, and he wants to explore something more. The problem is that he never thought that Roxy might not want that, not to spoil anything. He was also kind of grating when he was upset about Devin. I can't imagine that he had any fun at Comic Con with that attitude, and he really did it to himself.

The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love is mostly nerdy fun. I really wish that The Chronicles of Althena was real, because it sounds awesome. I expected that the book would be cute and sweet, full of geeky love. It's much more complicated than that, but in a good way. There's a happy ending, but maybe not the one that you might expect.

*The Chronicles of Althena is a comic series about an alien named Althena whose only knowledge of Earth is what she saw in 80s science fiction films. She often shapeshifts into characters from the movies, though she can't change her earlobe, which is always green. On their first day at the con, Roxy dresses up as Althena as Pris from Blade Runner, and Graham dresses as Althena as Mad Max. 

I received my copy of The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love from Sarvenaz Tash as part of the Spring Young Adult Scavenger Hunt. It's available for sale now.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Down With the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn

"May all your wishes come true, or at least just this one..."

Lennie Cash has dealt with a lot in her life. Her father is Leonard Cash, the infamous criminal who took her along as he robbed toy stores and Chuck E. Cheeses. Now, teenage Lennie lives with her mentally unbalanced mother and her uncles. The uncles are well known for brewing moonshine, the family business. Because of this, Lennie doesn't have a great reputation at school. Also, if that isn't enough, her best friend was just murdered.

Dylan's murder inspires Lennie to rebel just once. She drugs her uncles and steals three jars of shine to take to the popular Michaela's party. The kids all drink, and Lennie gets them to make the traditional wish. It's all good fun, or so she thought.

It turns out that the wishes, all of the silly, harmless wishes, came true. Her uncles thought that they told her years ago about the powers her family possess (It turns out that there was a silly misunderstanding; her uncle tried to tell her, she thought it was the Sex Talk and said that her other uncle already told her). When they perform the wishing ritual with the moonshine, the wishes actually come true. Because Lennie granted more than three wishes, the powers passed on to her.

Now, everything is a mess. Michaela's party is still going because she wished that it would never stop. Anyone who tries to leave becomes terribly ill. It's a battleground in there. There are gangs of teenagers at war with each other. Most of the wishes were harmless, such as the girl who wanted to be a cat or the boy who wanted to be a sexy old man (Seriously). Then there is the guy who wished to be a giant bat monster, and the surprisingly dangerous boy who wished that everything he touched turned into Cheetos.

Lennie is also dealing with the fallout of two other wishes. Dylan's twin brother Smith made a wish against her, along the lines of wishing that she would get what is coming to her because he blames her for Dylan's death. Lennie told him that he could lead her into Hell hand in hand. Now, Smith has an uncontrollable, painful desire to hold Lennie's hand, and once he does, they are stuck. Meanwhile, Lennie wished that Dylan were alive and safe in her bed. It's up to Lennie, Smith, undead Dylan, and the horribly awesome W2 (Who wished for brass balls and she talked him into steel ones) to save the day and reverse the wishes.

I am a big fan of Kate Kyrus Quinn's books, and Down With the Shine did not disappoint. My favorite part connected the book with her other two:

And then there were his obsessions. The ones he knew of, but couldn't find. A girl who stayed forever seventeen by making a cruel bargain with other girls so she could steal their bodies and their lives, a boy with the power to absorb bullets and magically heal, A girl who grants wishes through moonshine...

Down With the Shine was an inventive fairy tale of a story. I remember mentioning in a review that teenagers probably shouldn't be trusted with magic, and I stand by that statement. At least it's very entertaining to read about the crazy wishes. The story takes a crazy turn towards the end, but I kind of liked it.

I received my copy of Down With the Shine from Edelweiss, courtesy of HarperTeen. It's available for purchase now.