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?!")
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