Geek Girl by Holly Smale

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"My name is Harriet Manners, and I am a geek." Harriet Manners knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a "jiffy" lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. She knows that bats always turn left when exiting a cave and that peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite. But she doesn't know why nobody at school seems to like her. So when Harriet is spotted by a top model agent, she grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her best friend's dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of impossibly handsome model Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves. Veering from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, Harriet begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn't seem to like her any more than the real world did. As her old life starts to fall apart, will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything? The award-winning debut by bestselling author Holly Smale.
( synopsis)

After hearing that Holly Smale has written a Geek Girl story especially for World Book Day 2015 I decided that it would be a good idea to pick up the first book in the Geek Girl series. I'm about to start a new job in a Secondary School library and with Geek Girl being in the YA category for World Book Day, it is a likely that I will be involved in promoting the event and the two YA books involved. 

As I spend a lot of my time on the internet, immersing myself in the online book community, I had heard a lot about the Geek Girl series before I picked it up. The reviews I had seen were all raving about how good the series was, how refreshing it was to have a character like Harriet Manners for young girls to read about. 

And after having finished Geek Girl last week, I have to say that I agree. 

Harriet Manners is your typical 'geek' character. She can tell you a lot of interesting, if sometimes pointless information, struggles with social interaction and seems to be out of favour within the social hierarchy of her year at school. 

What I liked about the Smale's portrayal of Harriet before the crazy modelling starts is that she felt like a relatable character. Although I am a little older than the target age range for Geek Girl, I knew that if I had been reading it at the age of 15, I would have seen a little of myself in Harriet. She has her best friend and her enemy and the relationship she has with both is represented realistically. 

I have to admit that I did struggle with the (in my view) outlandish plot after Harriet gets spotted at Clothes Show Live. After finishing the book I did learn that the plot is loosely based on the experience the author had herself as a model, which did make me understand it a little more. I still enjoyed the adventure that Harriet and her father embarked on throughout the book and I think if I had been reading it at the age of 15 I would have been lapping it up. It did just seem somewhat improbable to me that ALL of that would have happened so quickly after being spotted, especially seeing as Harriet is made the face of a rather well known fashion company. 

What redeemed the crazy plot was Harriet. All the way through she stayed the same. I was scared when I realised what the storyline of the book was that Harriet was going to go through some kind of 'mean girl' transformation and completely change. I am so happy that she didn't. Even whilst she is in the midst of a modelling whirlwind she is still reeling off obscure facts and struggling with her self-confidence. Smale really impressed me with how she kept Harriet's integrity. Harriet knows who she is and even though she sometimes may not like that, she refuses to let the fashion world change her. 

I have to agree with the other reviews I mentioned earlier. Harriet is a refreshing character. Geek Girl was, all together, a refreshing book to read. Whilst it does have a crazy plot which can at times appear a little far fetched, at its center the book is about accepting who you are and not letting others perceptions of who you should be change you. 

Taking that into account when you think of Geek Girl's target audience, I think that the series is an important one. Teenage girls are surrounded by images that try and convince them they need to change who they are. If they want to be seen as beautiful they need to change themselves so that they are no longer themselves. If they want to find love they need to mould themselves to what the opposite sex finds attractive. If they want to succeed then they need to forget their values and beliefs and follow what everyone else tells them to do. Geek Girl challenges those opinions and presents readers with a character who, whilst placed in a situation where she is expected to change, doesn't let others define who she is and comes to accept herself, quirks and all. 

My Rating: 7/10