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Geek Fantasy Novel

Review

Geek Fantasy Novel

Ralph Stevens is a tried and true geek. He's adept at computers, a gaming aficionado and awkward around girls, but a nice, creative guy overall. However, his otherwise healthy imagination has been hampered by his parents’ lifelong prohibition against wishes. No wishing on stars or birthday candles for Ralph!

One summer, when he was most in need of adventure and wish-fulfillment (having been denied his dream job of game designer at Monomyth), he receives a letter from his mother's family in England. Would he be interested in coming abroad for the summer and helping set up their computer network? Not bothering to think too long about this odd request, Ralph sets off, without his parents’ permission, to live with the Battersbys. And so begins the journey of a lifetime, one that centers on the wishes of his cousins Cecil, Beatrice and Daphne and that will finally explain his parents’ ban on all wishes.

GEEK FANTASY NOVEL by E. Archer is a furious action-driven tale full of exploding rabbits, oppressed fairies, homicidal unicorns, an evil Duchess, a Snow Queen, the undead and family intrigue. Clever and strange, the novel plays with fantasy and adventure genre conventions and delivers a thrilling story.

Cecil is the first of the quartet to be offered a wish and then is whisked away to a fairy-land where the bodies, both living and dead, of fairies are used as construction material. His wish is to free them, hero-style, from their subjugation at the hands of the powerful elite. The result is that his sister Beatrice is killed, and not even Daphne's wish to save everyone can bring her back. Finally it is Ralph's turn to try to save Beatrice, and the story moves into the Underworld where the Recently-Living and the Soon-to-be-Dead are at odds. Ralph himself dies a couple of deaths in the whole process. The pace is breakneck most of the time; scenes switch wildly and magical creatures come and go, all the while the identity and purpose of characters shift. The motivations for their actions are never fully explored, but Archer is unapologetic, plunking them from one bizarre place and dropping them into the next.

At once violent, silly and surreal, GEEK FANTASY NOVEL is in no way a conventional book. The narrator continually breaks the wall between storyteller, characters and readers, and admits to “plot-meddling.” Like the cruel duchess orchestrating the wishes, the narrator is unreliable but totally fascinating. In fact, the theme of narration and storyteller responsibility loom large. Anyone looking for a traditional plot will be disappointed, but those willing to play along with Archer's mind-bending tricks will have fun.

In the end, perhaps the characters and plot are less important than Archer's experimentations. Though not always successful (character development is neglected in favor of high-jinx and special effects, and the story is not cohesive all the time but rather confusing at points), GEEK FANTASY NOVEL is ambitious and original.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on April 1, 2011

Geek Fantasy Novel
by E. Archer

  • Publication Date: January 26, 2016
  • Genres: Fantasy
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
  • ISBN-10: 0545160413
  • ISBN-13: 9780545160414