If you haven't worked it out yet, girls don't do this. They don't come to the Hovel. They don't like goblins and dragons. They don't paint miniatures. They don't play role playing games or re-enact fictional battles. And they don't talk to Geeks like me especially if they're pretty. And this girl is pretty. What do you do if you're a fourteen-year-old Geek, and a Beautiful Girl has appeared in the midst of your geeky world? And she seems to like you... For Archie, the natural reaction would be to duck and cover ... run for the hills ... buy a new model elf... Anything but risk stepping into the Real World. But even Geeks have to put their heads above the parapet at some point. With his mum barely able to contain her excitement that her son is about to join the human race, and his step-father, Tony the Tosser, offering crass advice, it's time for Archie to embark on a daring Quest to win the Beautiful Girl's heart and shake off his Geekhood for good...
I knew I had to love this, and even though it was quite boy-ish, I really did! It told of Archie, fourteen year old boy who likes to play role playing board games. (You know, the Games Workshop? Oh God, I can't believe I knew that!) Archie was quite sweet but what I liked was how Robb described him as a normal boy who just happened to be a bit geeky. I liked the balance between normal life and his fantasy of role play. And even though I've never been that sort of geek, I completely understood Archie's need for escapism.
The main point of this book is that a girl turns up. Despite being fourteen year old boys, Archie and his group of friends don't really have much contact with the female kind, and it shows! It was hilarious and endearing the way Archie wanted to show off for Sarah, introduce her to the world of miniature witches and goblins. Speaking of witches, I really liked Sarah. She was basically a Wiccan, with a New-Age mother and Goth wardrobe, incense and aura's, how could I not love her? She was very sweet and patient with Archie, and I especially liked how she genuinely wanted to help him be a better person when all he wanted was to cop a feel!
As for his friends, they were all typical teenagers. I loved them all, how annoyingly boyish they were, how completely useless with girls and emotions, how they all stuck together against bullies. Their banter was really funny and it gave me real insight into the minds of teen boys! But the real banter came from Archie's internal monologue and his growing psychic self. As weird as it was, I'm fairly certain that most of us talk to ourselves and I loved the emphasis Robb put on Archie's IM being his voice of doubt and his strength to overcome it.
But the more important aspect of this book was the development for Archie. As he wanted to impress Sarah, he also realised that being a geek was just the coward's way out of life and had to change that. I'm not sure I agreed with how he went about changing, but it got the desired effect and Archie finally grew up and started living his life the way he wanted. In the end, it wasn't about being a Geek but just being true to yourself. And even if Archie didn't get the happy ending he wanted, I liked how it came back full circle and he realised it was just who he was that mattered.
Published 4th June 2012 by Stripes Publishing.