Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe

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Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe
Publisher Name
North Star Editions/Flux imprint
Age Range
Release Date
July 19, 2022
Bounced between foster homes since the age of seven, Jessica knows better than to set down
roots. Most of the kids at her new Michigan high school think she’s a witch anyway (because,
you know, goth). The only one who gives her the time of day is geeky Oscar, who wants to
recruit her fashion skills for his amateur cosplay group. But Jess is fine showing off her looks to
her Insta fans—until a woman claiming to be her biological mother barges into her DMs.

Jess was claimed by the state when her bio mom’s mental illness made her unstable. While
their relationship is far from traditional, blood ties are hard to break. There’s only one problem:
Jess can’t reunite with her mom in New York City without a bunch of paperwork and she worries
her social worker will never approve the trip. That’s when she remembers Oscar’s cosplay
group, which is aiming for that big convention in New York . . .

So, Jess joins Oscar’s team—with every intention of using them to get to her mom. But her plan
gets complicated when she discovers that, actually, cosplay is pretty great, and so is having
friends. And Oscar, who Jess thought was just a shy nerd, can be as gallant and charming as the
heroes he pretends to be. As the big convention draws near, Jess will have to decide whether or
not chasing a dream of “family” is worth risking the family she’s built for herself.

Editor reviews

2 reviews
YA Coming of Age
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe is a coming-of-age YA book that touches on family, friendship, and figuring out who you are.

The story begins with Jessica, a high school teenager with a killer goth look starting at a new school. We come to find out that Jessica is in foster care and is well-versed in being the new kid and dealing with bullies.

Jessica's latest foster placement is with an older woman named Barbara. Jessica has a lot of self-imposed rules in place on how she should behave/interact with her foster parent, and it shows how Jess needs to protect herself from getting too attached. Barbara is the first foster parent who doesn't try to change Jessica's look. Instead, she encourages Jessica to be herself.

Jessica's goth look draws the attention of geeky Oliver, who is into cosplay and wants Jess to join his team. Jess agrees to join the cosplay team because the final competition is in NYC where her bio mom happens to live.

There are some twists and turns that the cosplay group has to go through to make it to NYC, but Jess learns a lot about herself and how opening her heart and letting people in may not be such a bad thing.

What I Liked: Author Lindsay S. Zrull was not afraid to write about tough topics like Jessica's foster care experience or her bio mom having schizophrenia. As you read about these things from Jessica's perspective, you begin to understand her more as a character and why she needs to guard her heart. The fact that Oliver opened up to Jess about his anxiety and panic attacks was a real moment of friendship. This story was so diverse and inclusive. Jessica, Gerritt, Emily, and Oliver seem like an unlikely group of friends, but they all care for one another and bring a unique perspective to the group. The whole cosplay world and going to cons just made me squeal. It feels like finally, the geeks have a book where they are represented.

What Left Me Wanting More:  While parts of the book felt predictable, I still enjoyed reading it despite knowing what would happen. 

Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe is so much more than just a book about a girl in foster care who finds friends by doing cosplay. It's a book about a girl who tries to heal her relationship with her bio mom, a girl who learns what being a good friend is, and a girl who realizes there are adults in her corner who want her to succeed. I highly recommend this as your next read!
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Emotional Debut
Overall rating
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I loved this book.

The title caught my attention first, because lets be honest here.. I was (and still am) the Goth Girl from highschool and you never see goth MC in books, so this was a big deal for me.

The chapter quotes were a great addition. They preface and give you a small sense of what the chapter is going to be about. There were quotes from Edgar Allan Poe, the Princess Bride, and Star Wars, just to name a few. My nerdy little heart loved all of the 80's references.

The author does a beautiful job of giving you a detailed vision of the different con's the characters attended, as well as the different outfits Jess created throughout the story. The attention the author gives these small things is breathtaking.

The characters are very well written. Each is well fleshed out, with their own problems, likes and dislikes. The chemistry and dynamic between them all is nothing short of amazing. Nothing felt forced or fake, genuine interactions all around.

The world building is amazing and heartfelt.

I knew from reading the description and dedication that I was going to be in for an emotional ride.

The way the author handled mental illness in her book was.. astounding. She really nailed the different facets one faces when not just battling an illness themselves, but watching a loved one battle the illness, in a very real way. Oscar speaks plainly about his anxiety and how it impacts his life daily.
Jess is worried that she might have inherited her mother’s schizophrenia, thus is reluctant to do any cosplay (playing pretend), as it hits so close to home with her mothers illness.

I did not like how Poe's life was a deciding factor for Jess on a multitude of things. Especially because Poe loved love, and none of this was mentioned. It was like she only would focus on the macabre, this made my heart hurt for the characters even more.

If you're looking for a book with different representation, this is a book for you.
Not only is our FMC not the typically preppy girls, there is also plus size rep, special diet rep (vegetarian), LGBTQ+ rep, and mental health rep (anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar).
Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe is an awesome read with an important message. I highly recommend.

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