Five Reasons To… Read Chaotic Good

27 March 2018

Chaotic Good Comps14.indd
Published: 13th March 2018
Source: Purchased
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
My Rating:
Cameron's cosplay--dressing like a fictional character--is finally starting to earn her attention--attention she hopes to use to get into the CalTech costume department for college. But when she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans.

When Cameron's family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town--her main destination for character reference--is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother's suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she's shocked at how easily she's accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her bro Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her "secret identity" gets more and more entrenched, Cameron's portfolio falls by the wayside--and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious.
For those of you who have been following me for a little while may recall at about this time last year I had a book I loved and I wrote a lovely post giving you the five best reasons for you to read it. That book was Whitney Gardner’s debut release, You’re Welcome, Universe. It was an amazing book for it’s diversity, it’s excellent explaining of the Deaf community and the inclusion of artwork. I adored that book and am so glad I own a copy so you know I wanted to read her latest release as soon as I heard about it. I admit, I did dither a little before preordering but in the end she shocked me with just how good her debut was so I’d be stupid not to buy.

I adored it just as much as her first book and so I figured what better way to convince you all to read too than list five excellent reasons to give it a chance?

Five Reasons To Read… Chaotic Good

Sexism is real and it sucks hairy balls

The best and most important reason to read Chaotic Good is simple. It calls out the everyday sexism which women experience. That things men take for granted, such as feeling confident to walk down the street, or through a park, and not suffer from catcalls or comments from men to ‘smile’ when all they are doing is walking. It’s the confidence of their place in the world and the right to do as they please while women want that confidence and comfort and when they try and do that they get called out for being bossy, or not belonging and it’s so frustrating. In the case of Chaotic Good, Cameron cross-dresses as a boy simply to be able to buy comics at her local comic book shop without a ‘helpful’ guy trying to test her geek knowledge and kindly guiding her to the ‘girl’s section’ which has ‘a few pastel-covered graphic novels ad some very kawaii manga’. As a boy she could avoid it all and instead have people except that she was new to things. She didn’t have to justify her interest or her presence and instead could be left be to learn. I adored how often this book called out sexism. From someone in a position of power being dismissive of Cameron’s hard work in designing costumes and calling them ‘cute’ and being ‘very feminine' as if that made them less in some way and how totally unacceptable that was. To a boy in a comic book shop knowing what was best for a girls without recognising them as people to speak to but instead viewing them as a confusing whole separate species. Every moment of sexist commentary fuelled my anger and I adored this book for that (because who doesn’t like being angry?).

Geeks… geeks everywhere

I admit, once the burning rage of sexism and sexist comments died down there was another element to this book which I adored and that was the geekiness. Like, there was reference to geek culture everywhere. The most significant ones were comic book references, I especially loved that they talked about X-Men (and no, I don’t know what the universal hatred for both Dazzler and Jubilee is… I can’t be bothered to Google it either). And then there was the fact they played D&D (yes, that is awesome because D&D is like the ultimate in geeks and it made me smile). Then there were video games references and the cosplay costumes Cameron designed. I loved that she designed Final Fantasy VII costumes for her and her friends because I love that game. I love that entire game series, even the less stellar ones. Just all the small references to different geeky things (many of which I probably missed) made me smile because I like geeky thing and I probably would be directed to the girls section too because I am an expert in nothing but oh well.

Artwork (again) in the form of comic book pages

Look, I like when a book has pictures. No one gets over the novelty of picture books. No one! Like You’re Welcome, Universe it’s not overwhelming and the little comic pages inserted in the story are great. They are all scenes from the D&D game which Cameron plays with her new found friends and they were perfect little additions. The game which they play isn’t major but it plays an important roll in Cameron’s own moments of self discovery and learning about those around her and I just really loved them. They were perfect additions to a book in which a comic book shop plays a central roll, you know? And the artwork was good and fun and I just liked it, ok?

Precious angel flowers of characters

One of the main reasons I loved this book is book Whitney Gardner has proved, once more, that her characters are so easy to care about. That isn’t to say they are always utterly likable, but they are original and even with their unlikable moments you sympathise with them. I mean, Cameron could be a little self centred and didn’t always consider her actions and how they would affect others, but she was also a teenager and so it felt genuine. I know I can be like that even now and I’m 27, so moments of inconsiderateness are understandable. And that was true of all the characters, from Cooper, to Lincoln or Why. They all had their moments where they didn’t make the best choices but they came across as genuine and I really cared about them.

And can we talk about how cute the romance was as well? Like, I was head over heels for Lincoln just as quick as Cameron was I couldn’t help it. He was sweet and considerate and he cared about his nan and that is the kind of thing I want to see in a book! Nan’s in books are something I’m a sucker for.

Internet trolls are a thing and it was good to see the impact the internet has

I feel like internet bullying has obviously been done in books before. And the impact that the internet and the trolls on the internet is well known but seeing it in this book was important. Look, this isn’t a major spoiler but it’s a significant part of the story that isn’t right at the start just warning you now, I might be getting ranty in this final point.

So, Cameron cosplayed as a very famous character with her friends and won a contest… but turns out she knew very little about the game she was cosplaying for and there was a lot of blowback from that. Her blog got abusive comments, her emails was spammed, she got a lot of hate. Hate she didn’t deserve and I think Gardner did an excellent job of showing the escalation of internet hate. It begins small but when trolls get going (especially trolls who are hating on women because they are misogynistic douches) things escalate, even to the extent of personal details getting out and it was written so well. Cam didn’t know what to do and it seriously impacted on her life and well being because when given the chance of the relative anonymity the internet provides people will go all out in the abuse. They get real personal real fast and it’s awful. Just look at gamergate to see how terrible it can be. And I recently read how the comic book world is experiencing something similar in the form of Comicsgate. That is a prime example of how people let loose on the internet can do horrible things. That is seen in this book and I was so impressed with how well it was done. You don’t have to put up with online abuse but when it’s directed at you you don’t know where to turn to or what to do because that’s just the internet, right? People can be dicks. Gardner does an excellent job of standing up and saying it’s not right and there are small steps you can take. You can’t stop people being dicks but you can do everything you can to lessen the impact. It was one of my favourite parts of this book because the internet is a terrifying place but also it’s central to most people, we’re all on there, so we want to feel safe when we’re there and it’s so easy to take that feeling away from folks.

Basically, I adored this book and it’s many layers and moments and I hope you read it and love it too.

Have you read this or any Whitney Gardener books. What did you think?
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