Jen, a self imposed outcast at her current high school is a girl on a mission, to see if she can turn geeky Trevor, to the dark side. She makes a bet with her two BFF's, (and twins) Beth and Ella over lunch one day and what's her prize if she can pull this off? They agree to pay for another lip piercing. Sounds um, fun, right? (guess there's no cookies on this dark side, just piercings) Well, in their world, whoever has the most piercings, the worst attitude, parties the hardest or has the most overall disdain for anyone not like them is coolest. To each their own.
Jen's a foster kid whose been bounced around to different homes over the years and doesn't expect to be with her current family for much longer. She claims they're suffocating her with their stupid rules like no sneaking out, no drugs, no drinking and no facial piercings. (SO LAME, right?!) At least they don't make too big of a deal about her appearance which is totally goth. She tends to get irritated at people's initial reaction to her and assumes the worst of them (like the first time she meets Trevor's Mom) but wait, isn't that the point of dressing the way she does? To get a reaction? She fails to see that she's totally judging them the way she assumes they're judging her.
Once we get to know her more, we see that she has horrible self esteem, constantly referring to herself as a freak and dark. Her appearance and her attitude are just a few of the ways she tries to protect herself from pain and rejection, two things she knows way too much about. It's hard to feel you're worth much when the people in your life who are supposed to protect you have done nothing but use and abuse you. Ironically, she has very high moral standards for herself even if the way she lives her life contradicts that at times.
Trevor is our story's heroic "hot guy in geek's clothing". (think "knight in shining armor") He's everything Jen is not, at least that's the way it appears. He's smart, funny, a good student, does community service and enjoys spending time with his friends and family. He's skeptical at first when Jen starts paying so much attention to him but he decides to go with it. He never once judges her and each time she refers to herself as a freak he corrects her and says she's "different" or "interesting". He takes the time to listen and get to know her and is nothing but supportive even when Jen's making choice that he doesn't agree with. When she tells him she doesn't feel like she's good enough for him, he's patient and reassuring. OK, so where do I get my "TEAM TREV" T-shirt?
For her part, Jen starts to realize that "Trev" in all his sci-fi geekiness is actually a great guy who she's beginning to fall for...and hard. She finds herself able to trust him with her story and doesn't want things to come to an end. When her friends press her for answers about their bet, she repeatedly puts them off which only angers them. Her relationship with Trev has a positive effect on not only her social life (she starts easing up on her appearance when he tells her she's beautiful without all the harsh makeup - sigh) but her home life as well. She can hardly believe it when he tells her he's in love with her because once again, she doesn't feel worth of him. She knows she should tell him about the bet she made but she doesn't want to ruin things. She doesn't want to lose him, but the truth always comes out and when it does, it's heartbreaking and painful for all involved, including the reader.
When her life comes crashing down around her, Jen will find out who her real friends are, what she's really worth and just how strong the bonds of love and family are.
It all starts with an innocent....well maybe not so innocent bet..."Think I can turn that boy bad?" 17-year-old Jen says to her friends. This bet turns her life upside down when, out of boredom, she makes a bet that she can turn school geek Trevor into someone like her. Instead, Jen the goth girl finds herself sucked into Trevor's geek world of sci-fi movies, charity work, and even-ugh!-bowling. However to truly belong with him and with her new foster family, Jen must first come to terms with her violent past.
Can Jen turn Trevor "bad" or will the opposite happen? Is Jen truly bad herself? What happened in Jens past that turned her so very very black and negative to all around her? Will Trev ever forgive her? Will Jen get her happy ending?
As always its quite difficult to review some books without giving away spoilers but I am going to try my best with this review. Firstly, I initially thought I wasn't going to like the book, but decided to continue reading and as I got further into reading the book I really did find myself enjoying it and wondering what would happen. Cindy writes it so well you really do feel emotionally for Jen. Jen hasn't had the greatest start in lif, you find that out a fair way into the book, then it helps you understand why she doesn't open herslef up to anyone, not even her foster parents. Jen calls their daughter Tamara "the cheerleader" as she symbolises everything that Jen is not! Jen is dark, wears short black clothers has dyed black hair and heavy makeup but Tamara is light and fresh wears "cheer leader" type clothes and is always happy etc.
I think Jen picks Trevor for the bet because he is everything she is not, she is dark,negative,friendless,and unloved (she thinks) where as Trevor is light,positive, kind,has lots of frends and loved by everyone. Jen soon realises that she likes Trevor and things go further and spiral out of her control of the constraints of the bet. Jens "friends" then spoil all she has built for herself by interfering and she finds herself "hated" again with not even her "dark negative" friends for company. So does Jen go back to the uncaring person she once was? Strangely she cannot do this because Trevor has indeed changed her rather than her changing him as she set out to do. A new girl starts at school called Jane who befriends Jen and helps her come to terms with all that has happened. Does Trevor forgive Jen? Has Jen finally got a true real friend in the shape of Jane? You really need to buy the book when it comes out, I recommend it! It is so realistic when you see a school cafeteria you see the separate cliques and groups, the "populars", the "goths" and the "geeks". I loved the adult characters in the book too the Clarkes, Jens foster parents who do genuinely love her and trust her and accept her as her "goth" type appearance and never draw attention or comment when she changes her look. I also loved the way Brian's mum totally accepted her into her home too and finally Trevor's mum accepts her eventually. I also love Todd's unconditional love of Jen and his innocent comment that make others blush!
I have seen a few different covers for this book, I loved the plain black one with Geek Girl wrote on it but I also like the one pictured with this review
Unlike the movies I mentioned, Jen has a reason for being the way that she is. Her childhood was completely awful and she has used drugs, alcohol, makeup and acting out as a way of escaping her pain. Watching her grow and overcome her past throughout the novel is exceedingly touching. I couldn't help but root for her as she managed to shed her skin and learned about happiness. Plus, Jen had a really authentic voice; she really seemed to think like a teenager.
Another addition that Bennett made to the story was placing the dramatic reveal at the center of the story. What I mean by that is that the inevitable scene wherein her treachery is revealed and the relationship ends comes much earlier in the plot line than usual. This allows for a more realistic timeline for the relationship to recover or not.
Of course, what I really liked about the book was the nerdiness. There are a ton of sci fi references to just about every nerdy sci fi thing you can imagine. Needless to say, each one gave me my own geeky glee, even if it was something I haven't watched yet. Additionally, I loved Trevor. Where's my fit, wonderful nerd boy? Seriously, he's amazing, and a much better kind of guy for teenage girls to be reading about and wanting than an Edward or a Jacob.
So, if you like that old formula, and want to read about some geeky references and a troubled girl learning how to have a real, happy future, look no further. I definitely recommend this!
Review: A true gem
This was definitely one of the better romance/chick-lit books out there. I'm a slow reader, but I stayed up well into the night to read this one and finished it in one day. I must warn you there is a load of sap, but it's good sap. I loved it. There were so many instances I wanted to bawl my eyes out and by the end, it was "Break out the tissues for the silly romantic!" Sure, it was predictable in a way all romance novels must be (if only she had told him the truth in the first place...), but I didn't really mind. Still this isn't just any romance novel. It's coming-of-age, it's finding identity, and much, much more. It's good enough to be read in a girls' book club. Outstanding, really :D