Archie is a Geek to his core - and despite having a Close Encounter with Sarah at the beginning of term, he's still completely clueless about girls. Enter Clare - an older woman (she's sixteen) who Archie meets on his weekend trip to see his dad and his nightmare step-mum, Jane. Clare and Archie hit it off - and she's got a brilliant, foolproof way to get their crushes to notice them: pretend to be going out with one another! What can possibly go wrong? In the midst of school, getting Sarah to forgive him and dealing with his insane family, Archie and his mates step-up the nerdiness and go Live Action Role-play gaming. Ladies and gentlemen, we are entering a new era...
The sequel to Close Encounters of the Girl Kind, Archie is no more the wiser to girls and their strange ways. After admitting his feelings to Sarah and getting turned down, Archie is feeling particularly awkward and is even avoiding her. His friends have forgiven him but wants him to apologise to Sarah so they can get on with their lives. Especially as on the horizon is a LARP event! I already know about LARP, even though I haven't been to one. As soon as it was mentioned, I knew what we were in for: a huge geek-gasm of magic, costumes and role playing. And did we get it!
This was just as funny, if not more so, than the first book, with Archie's Inner Monologue and his complete lack of understanding of the real world, and their extreme geeky excitement at LARP. Then there was Archie's relationship with his dad and his new family. That was a whole other level of awkward, as Archie's dad tries to treat both his and his wife's kids equally but just acts like a moron. The parallels between him and Tony from the first book are evident even to Archie, which makes him feel awful for putting his father's new family in that situation. But also surprisingly adult as he helps his father get past that. Having failed spectacularly with Sarah, I was proud that Archie could make another kid's life a bit better.
I loved how many different aspects of this book interweaved, like Archie's relationship with Sarah and his friends, his mum and Tony, and his dad, everything coming together to help make Archie grow up and understand his friends and family better. Nothing was perfect, all the characters were flawed and ridiculous and the situations they got themselves into were hilarious! This book was light hearted and funny but also showed the reality of teenage relationships and the dangers of navigating them; Archie's world of geekiness is one that I will always love and always make me laugh.
Published 4th March 2013 by Stripes Publishing.