June 13, 2014

Fancy Schmancy Geekomancy: a review of Michael R. Underwood's "Attack the Geek"

Attack the Geek
by Michael R. Underwood
Pocket Star (2014)
142 pages

Even without having read the two preceding novels in this series, Geekomancy and Celebromancy, I was eager to check out this novella by Michael R. Underwood, because playing with pop culture within an urhan fantasy universe sounded like it was right up my alley.

Before reading it, I wondered how much I'd be left in the dark about, having not read those first two books. Well, the story is pretty straight-forward, even promoted as a "side quest" in the series, but even with that sentiment there is plenty of winks and nods that established fans of the series are going to appreciate a lot more than newcomers.

Ree Reyes is grinding it out as a barista, nothing out of the norm, until a ceaseless wave of trolls and anthropomorphic objects attack the coffee shop. Along with her friends, and even her boss, she has to use her magical abilities, which include being able to summon the qualities of certain TV & movie stars, but also wield fantastical items from genre books and such. Great if you can find a way to Rambo with a light saber. Not so much if you can only go Mr. Darcy with a bowl of figgy pudding.

I dare you to tick off all the winks and nods to nerdy idoltry. You could make a game out of it. As for Underwood's own characters, they're fun and easy to root for, particularly Ree, and there is thankfully not too much dependent on reading the previous books. The story is fairly self-contained as far as action goes, but the motivations of certain characters will be better appreciated with a familiarity with the series. But with so much action taking place in this relatively short excursion, there's more sizzle than steak when it comes to character development.

Attack the Geek is like the secret bonus level on a video-game, or maybe some DLC to entice you into the rest of the franchise. If that's the case, then mission accomplished.

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