My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Smale’s debut book, Geek Girl, is the story of Harriet Manners. Harriet isn’t very popular at school, and when she’s spotted by a top model scout, it seems like Harriet has a chance to reinvent herself. On this journey she encounters inappropriately hot boy-models, Wilbur (that’s ‘bur’ and not ‘iam’) and becomes increasingly acquainted with the underside of tables.
Geek Girl definitely filled an ANTM shaped hole in my life. I’ve got a great weakness for books like this and so very much enjoyed it. Smale clearly knows her world of modelling and has written a heroine who’s satisfyingly quirky and funny. I loved Harriet. One of her more eccentric tics is to hide under a table when she’s freaking out, and this is something Smale plays with to great effect. There’s a lot of physical humour in this book and when coupled with the fish out of water vibe of Harriet, that all adds up to a fun read. (And though I think Wilbur may be a bit of a marmite character, I loved him a lot.)
The downside of Geek Girl is that it’s overly frantic at points. It doesn’t really feel balanced (the ending all seems a little too neat), and I became a little sick of a lot of the chapters ending in a similar manner (‘And then X happened’). This does all end up to a hooky reading experience but it’s one that doesn’t really give you time to pause and come to terms with things for either the reader or Harriet. I think that’s maybe why the ending didn’t quite work for me.
However I will be coming back for Smale’s next book. She’s got a lovely gift for humour and character construction, and her writing is almost defiantly vibrant in places.
What’s also worthwhile noting is the utter loveliness of Geek Girl’s front cover. The stark simplicity of it, combined with that bold red across the eyes, combines to make a really gorgeous package.