Wednesday, March 21, 2018

ARC Review: Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

Title: Chaotic Good
Written by: Whitney Gardner
Published: March 13, 2018 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Cameron's cosplay--dressing like a fictional character--is finally starting to earn her attention--attention she hopes to use to get into the CalTech costume department for college. But when she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans.

When Cameron's family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town--her main destination for character reference--is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother's suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she's shocked at how easily she's accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her bro Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her "secret identity" gets more and more entrenched, Cameron's portfolio falls by the wayside--and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

When I saw that the author of You're Welcome Universe was coming out with a new book I was excited to read it. I loved her debut and this one sounded super cute. And while this was cute and fast read it didn't quite blow me away.

I will say that this was definitely a cute contemporary. I don't read a ton of contemporaries but I like when they are more on the fun and light-hearted side of things. This book did a good job in balancing the more serious issues and themes with some funny and some sweet moments. The romance was pretty cute as well and it briefly thawed my cold dead heart. I think if you are a bigger fan of contemporaries you will like this way more than a casual like myself.

Speaking of casuals, or well people being called casuals, probably my favorite things about this book was the geek culture angle. I love books about nerdy characters especially if the plot of the book deals with anything geeky and this book definitely did just that. Not only was there cosplay but also Dungeons and Dragons. Plus it explored some of the less savory parts of this like what it is like to be a girl geek and online harassment.

The geek culture of course extended to the characters. This is a book full of geeks and nerds. I always relate so much to nerdy characters for obvious reasons. Cameron is fun and feisty. She's having a bit of a tough time but she has a lot of inner strength which made me appreciate her even more. There could have been a little bit more character development but as a protagonist Cameron was likable. The secondary characters were similar but not as complex as I would have hoped. Her brother Cooper was interesting enough but wasn't as involved as much as I would have liked, Brody was definitely complex but he really could have overcome his jerk tendencies a little more. As for the romantic lead, Lincoln, I did like him but like a lot of the other characters he just didn't get as much development as I would have liked. I think a little more time on character development would have made this book a little more enjoyable for me.

But the thing I would have definitely like more of was in regards to this book is the plot. My main issue here is just with the plot development. It didn’t really feel fully-formed. It moved from moment to moment in a deliberate pace and had a climax that had me engaged, but none of the main beats really hit in a significant way. Most of the time it would just move on, which didn’t really allow for any weight behind it. It was interesting it just felt like it was a little rushed and there could have been much more. It made for a really fast read which I appreciated but it also made for a basic read which I didn't appreciate. I'm such a plot driven reader that I really wanted a more complex plot.

All in all though a cute and fun contemporary. It was definitely basic and on the younger end of YA but it was a decent read and I enjoyed it.

I give Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner 8.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. If you like books about geeky characters or stories about people trying to find their place in the world check this out. Like I said, it's a fast and fun contemporary that fans of the genre will probably enjoy.

Have you read Chaotic Good? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

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