Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Freak the Geek

Author: John Green
Anthology: GEEKTASTIC - Stories from the Nerd Herd
Edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci
Pub Date: 2009


Interestingly enough, this story breaks down into twelve different sections all small and meant for swift consumption. Here's how I break them down:

I. Intro/Traditions Suck
II. "Take notes, people!"
III. Cool < Geek
IV. Freak the Geek (aka "The Extent of My Geekiness")
V. Freak the Geek, Part 2 (My favorite sentence: "I mean, think of the Freaking opportunities physics provides!")
VI. Freak the Geek, Part 3 ("Paintballs?!")
VII. Escape
VIII. We Know These Woods, They Don't
IX. "Mustachioed Purple-Hued Maltworms"
X. Trolls versus Orks
XI. Particle Behavior
XII. Scarlet Letter

The story was not only well-written but quite an explosion of geeky fun, par for the course not only for this particular anthology but for author John Green himself. As much as I enjoyed this story it lacked that resonant quality for which I adore his novels. The story ended well, each part essentially building up to a mediocre example of the measure of friendship. Small story, small concept. Yet from the same man who mastered such larger-than-life topics like suicide, cancer, the absence and/or dominance of romantic interests in a young boy's life (hence, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl) Freak the Geek seems least plausible and certainly the worst of his fictional efforts. Certain things were plain unnecessary, such as the misspelling of "orks" and its reference to a mythology other than Tolkien's. One assumes this is due to copyright concerns yet later (in Section XI) the girls candidly discuss Aragorn and Arwen both. If the goal of Green's story was to bring out the inner geek in his readers (hardly an impossible feat), he succeeded.

Another bothersome point, and I'll cease my criticisms. There was no reason--not any beyond sheer interest--for the main character and her best friend to be girls or for them to attend an all-girls' preparatory school. None at all. No excuse but it was a short story, after all.

Overall, I enjoyed the story.

--Anthony L. Isom '07

Monday, April 15, 2013


Author: Melissa Marr
Anthology: TEETH - Vampire Tales
Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Pub Date: 2011


This chilling tale by Wicked Lovely author Melissa Marr follows Eliana and Sebastian as their morbid relationship begins on the heels of Sebastian's relationship with former girlfriend Nicole. Told through alternating third-person points-of-view--between Eliana and Sebastian, of course--Marr's meaningful prose exudes purpose. Clearly, this is the work of a skilled writer. The most fascinating thing about this story has little to do with Marr's unique vampirism but more the symbolism the bloody exchange of partners represents. The most beautiful set of phrases in the story come from the lips of Sebastian himself: "...the shock and pain makes most people forget us. It hurts, you know, ripping holes in people's skin." To any reader of the story, Marr's metaphor is not only clear but resonant.

With well-rounded characters, a fascinating take on the aged (and well-worn) vampire mythology, and lurid sentences galore Marr stands triumphant. Give it a try; you'll love it!

--Anthony L. Isom