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BFF Level Up

Sarvenaz Tash writes the second greatest YA Comic Con book in The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love.

BFF Level Up

BOOK REPORT for The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash

Cover Story: Clark Kent
Drinking Buddy: Deadpool
Testosterone Level: Bruce Banner as Bruce Banner
Talky Talk: Fantastic Four
Bonus Factors:  Iranian-Americans, Friendzone
Bromance Status: Literary Bros

Cover Story: Clark Kent

Normally, I really dislike it when they have a photograph of the main character on the cover. I prefer to form my own mental pictures. But this totally works: the ginger boy, the costume, the Comic Con badge, the NYC skyline, and the stink of rejection. Now this scene doesn't actually happen in the book, but it kind of sums things up nicely.

The Deal:

Graham has been best friends with Roxana ever since she introduced herself by asking which Hogwarts House he'd be sorted into. Years later, they're buddies, next door neighbors, and co-creators of their own graphic novel series. And Graham knows that they would make the perfect couple. He's totally in love with her. And moving from best friend to boyfriend isn't that big of a step, right?

It's time for New York Comic Con. Reclusive comic creator Robert Zinc is holding his first Q & A in decades. Graham and Roxana are so there. Accompanied variously by Casey, Graham's smart and nerdy friend; Felicia, Roxana's smart and not nerdy friend; and Roxana's younger sister Samira, this is going to be a weekend to remember. Graham has it all planned out. He's going to tell Roxana about his feelings in such an amazingly thoughtful way that she can't help but realize what a great boyfriend he'd make.

That is until Felicia jokingly signs everyone up for speed dating. And Roxana meets handsome Devin, who kind of attaches himself to the group. Ah, who cares, Graham knows Roxana a lot better than this dork. Except...

Oh, God, no.

He's British.

Shit.

Drinking Buddy: Deadpool

We've all been in Graham's shoes. You plan the perfect date, rehearse the perfect flowery words, put on the perfect costume, and everything goes to hell anyway. In addition to the presence of the Stud Crumpet (Graham's words), every romantic gesture he plans turns into a disaster. He calls in so many favors from Casey that he'll be in debt to him till he's 30. And still, Roxana can't seem to realize what's been right in front of her the whole time.

I'd like to drink a Romulan ale or two with this guy and exchange fan theories, con stories, and bemoan how the word 'friend' can sometimes hurt.

Testosterone Level: Bruce Banner as Bruce Banner

Graham isn't the type of guy to just deck Devin or grab Roxana and kiss her. And sometimes his pining for his dream girl bordered on the sad. But he's nobody's doormat, and he has his moments. He hits is off with Amelia, a fellow Robert Zinc fan, and together they chase down a shoplifter. He tries karaoke for the first time. He counsels another broken-hearted nerd.

Cons are magical places, and with any luck, Graham just might save the day. Or at least get out with his dignity intact.

Talky Talk: Fantastic Four

Tash certainly must have been to a lot of cons in her life, as she captures the essence perfectly. The panels, the celebrities, the cosplay, the geeky romance...it's all there. While our heroes never get too wild (they don't stay overnight), reading this book was the next best thing to being at a huge Comic Con. Not only does the author name drop a lot of nerd cultural icons, both mainstream and obscure, she invents an entire new, detailed universe for the fictional Robert Zinc. That's committing to your craft.

In a word where 'geek' is a badge of honor and comic books are now graphic novels, it's nice to know that some people will never really be cool, and that's a wonderful thing.

Bonus Factor: Iranian-Americans

Roxana's parents (like the author) are Iranian-Americans. They immigrated so their children would have better lives, though they keep a lot of their old culture. Graham is at their house all the time, enjoying their delicious food, learning to speak a little Farsi, and basically charming the heck out of Roxana's parents and grandmother. Why, they practically consider him one of the family...sigh.

Actually, there's a lot of diversity in this book. Felicia is Japanese-American, Casey is Jewish, and Amelia is black. The author doesn't hammer us over the head, but it's nice that the default color here isn't white.

Bonus Factor: Friendzone

So there's a panel where the cast and director of Pretty in Pink discuss the work of the great John Hughes. Graham knows Roxana loves that movie and he was saving this as a surprise...until Devin blows it.

During the panel, the cast fields a question about the end of the movie, where the hero, Andie, choses handsome, rich, Blaine over her best friend Duckie. Apparently the movie was originally shot with Duckie as the victor, but the test audiences disliked it. And the cast agrees with the change! What the hell, Jon Cryer and Molly Ringwald?

Graham slowly comes to the realization that being a friend isn't an automatic pass to more, and unless he wants to grit his teeth and smile every time Devin comes around, he needs to act, and quick.

Bromance Status: Literary Bros

You're a book about some nerdy yet likeable kids at Comic Con? Sit down. We have much to discuss.

Full Disclosure: I received neither money nor passes to the exclusive Q & A with Robert Zinc for this review.

 

Brian Katcher's photo About the Author: Brian Katcher wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.