Published by Simon and Schuster BFYR on June 14, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. Archie and Veronica. Althena and Noth.…Graham and Roxy?
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.
Diversity Rating: 2 – It’s a Start!
Racial-Ethnic: 4 (Roxy and her family are Iranian, Felicia is Japanese, and Casey is Jewish)
I’ve been to BookExpo back when it was still BEA and I’ve been to ALA Annual, but I’ve never been to a proper geeky convention. That might change soon, but for the moment, I just have other people’s stories and the photos I always seen when SDCC and NYCC come around every year. The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love takes place at the latter and it’s one heck of a ride!
Seeing as both BEA and NYCC happen at the Javits Center in New York City, the majority of the setting felt familiar and made me nostalgic about the ridiculous things that happened there, like arriving at 7 AM to start the line when the floor didn’t open until 1 PM and a wild bird flying in to hang around for signings (YES, THAT HAPPENED). A whole lot of my fondness for The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love comes from that nostalgia, but other readers won’t be left bereft. The atmosphere Tash builds will attract even those who have never been to a convention and nails the experience of being at a massive convention or trade show.
It’s easy to forget at times that the entire novel takes place over four days (the night before they attend NYCC and the three days they’re actually there) because it’s so well-paced. Graham and his best friend/comic-writing partner Roxy are great characters and have a strong dynamic even after Graham screws it up by being the textbook Nice Guy. (More on that later.)
The book is pretty funny too! For instance, Graham, while cosplaying a character from his favorite comic, foils a sword theft by shouting one of his character’s lines at the thief, who is so baffled that he gets caught! Then Graham goes viral because of course people managed to get video of it happening.
Graham’s plans to woo Roxy and confess his feelings go awry with such regularity that you come to anticipate how he’ll fail next. Take her to an exclusive panel that marks their favorite comic creator’s first appearance in years? Too bad, a fan stampede cheats him out of getting the required wristbands. Buy her a collector’s item page from said comic, The Chronicles of Althena, at the auction? It’s waaaaaaay out of his price range. When he has the bright idea of using karaoke to confess to her, it goes so wrong that you’re almost secondhand embarrassed for him.
But then you don’t because Graham is a Nice Guy narrator. That’s entirely intentional, but it didn’t make being in his head much easier, especially once Roxy meets a more casually geeky Brit during a round of speed dating and the Brit proceeds to hang around the group for the remainder of NYCC. Graham is so determined that Roxy is HIS, NOT THE BRIT’S that he very nearly destroys his decade-long friendship with Roxy. Having dealt with Nice Guys, I don’t want to sympathize with them even when they change for the better like Graham eventually does.
In a way, The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love is like taking the movie (500) Days of Summer and setting it at NYCC, complete with the ending. The possibility of a new girl to romance–Amelia, a fellow Chronicles of Althena fan and one of Graham’s own speed-dating matches–right after Roxy rejects him and he realizes he’s been an awful person? Eh, he needs to be on his own for a while and figure out his stuff.
As of the moment, my best friend and I are planning to head to a convention in October. One of our favorite musicians will be there in her capacity as a voice actor and both of us miss the feeling of wandering a convention center floor like we did at ALA Annual 2016. Before October comes around, I’m pretty sure I’ll be handing her A Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love! Though Graham’s head isn’t the easiest place to be, the book is fun and will get anyone hyped for a convention. I’m not at all opposed to cosplaying either.