Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

"We're all messy. What kind of friends would we be if we demanded you only show us your prettiness? This isn't Instagram- it's real life. And real life is messy..."

Queens of Geek is a story about three friends from Australia visiting California for SupaCon, a comic books convention. It's narrated by the two girls, Charlie and Taylor. Charlie is a YouTube star who is gaining popularity for starring in a major horror movie. She is going to SupaCon for publicity, and also in the personal hopes that she can show she is over her ex (and co-star) Reese. Her fans still love "Chase," as they called them. They don't realize that Reese cheated on her and broke her heart.

Charlie brings her best friends Jamie and Taylor. Taylor has Aspberger's and anxiety issues. She is also head over heels in love with Jamie, who obviously likes her back. He is very sweet and sensitive towards her at all times. She is also very nervous about the future. They all plan to move to Los Angeles after graduating high school. Charlie will continue with her movie career, while Taylor and Jamie attend college. This makes Taylor anxious to no end. Leaving home freaks her out, plus she isn't even sure that she will get accepted to college.

SupaCon is meant to be their big celebration before graduation, but it also holds special meaning for Taylor. She is the number one fan of a series called Queen Firestone. She even made her own jacket so that she could cosplay it. Secretly, Taylor hopes that by meeting the creator of Queen Firestone, Skyler Atkins, it will mean that the future will be okay. Understandably, she is heartbroken when the plans fall through. Her friends urge her to enter the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, where the winner gets to attend the movie premiere and meet Skyler, but Taylor has her doubts. The thought of entering a cosplay contest and then being onstage for the trivia round with everyone watching is a bit overwhelming.

Meanwhile, Charlie is excited to meet one of her YouTube heroes, Alyssa. The girls share mutual appreciation for each others' work- and mutual attraction. It's exciting, but slightly dampened when Reese arrives. The production company wants them to play nice, but it's hard for Charlie. She has to balance her hurt from that heartbreak, plus anger towards Reese with her new feelings towards Alyssa and apprehension towards having another relationship in the public eye.

It's a really cute story. I know I've said it before, but I will repeat: I love geeks in love. So this book was basically perfect for me. I really like that there's a lot of inclusive elements to the story. We get characters with various ethnic backgrounds, various sexual preferences, and characters with mental illnesses/disorders. It could seem a little "After School Special," but the book handles it well. It doesn't clobber you over the head with it, it's just that some people are multi-racial/bisexual/have anxiety...and they are also people. It's a pretty cool message, and a pretty cool book over all.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Scooby Apocalypse, Volume 1 by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, Illustrated by Jim Lee and Howard Porter

I loved Scooby-Doo when I was younger, absolutely loved. Come on, there was a talking dog, and a bunch of teens who chased after monsters and ghosts in their multi-colored van. I always loved guessing who the "monster" was at the end of the episode. There were many versions of Scooby-Doo, and I think I watched all of them. Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, that weirdly 1980s A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, Scooby-Doo movies where they met the Harlem Globetrotters and other guests, even the Laff-A-Lympics. I was fairly obsessed with the character*, and I never even smoked any drugs whatsoever.

 The Scooby Apocalypse series seemed pretty intriguing, and my library's website had the first volume. It's sort of a grittier story. Velma works at a secret underground facility, the Complex. She and the other scientists have developed nanites and secretly slipped them into all of the people everywhere. It was supposed to make the population more peaceful, but she found out that they really are meant to control their minds.

Velma decides to inform the general public. She contacts a journalist to get the new out, one Daphne Blake of Daphne Blake's Mysterious Mysteries, a show that airs late at night on the Knitting Channel. Daphne and her cameraman Fred meet with Velma, who takes them back to the Complex to show them her evidence. On the way, they run into her fellow employee, Norville "Shaggy" Rogers. He's a dog trainer who is very close to Scooby, one of the dogs whose brain was enhanced for the smart dog program. All four of them, plus the dog, are in the facility's Safe Zone when the alarm goes off. The nanites have somehow been activated.

 What greets them outside the Safe Zone is terrifying. People have been transformed into monsters. The monsters have been killing and eating those who haven't transformed, and killing and eating other monsters. The gang ends up escaping the Complex in an experimental vehicle known as the Mystery Machine. They travel around, encountering more monsters, gathering supplies, and trying to contact other Complex locations to figure out a plan of action. In the meantime, they are being hunted by the monsters and a group of smart dogs looking for Velma to fix their implants and for revenge against Scooby, led by a dog named...Scrappy-Doo. That made me laugh. 

Scooby Apocalypse was definitely a unique take on the series. There's a pretty interesting mystery behind what is going on with the monsters. I'm not sure if I will keep up with the series, but I'll definitely consider if/when the next volume is on the library's website.

* My first ever compact disc** purchase was a compilation of Scooby-Doo themes called Scooby-Doo's Snack Tracks. It included a remix of the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? theme, which I thought was awesome at the time. It probably wasn't.  (Never mind, it's amazing: #sarcasm...kinda)
** I am an old :(