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A Reader of Fictions: Review: Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Friday, December 28, 2012

Review: Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities

Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities

Author: Mike Jung
Illustrator: Mike Maihack
Pages: 307
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine
Source: For review from YA Books Central

Description from Goodreads:
A SUPER funny, SUPER fast-paced, SUPER debut!

Can knowing the most superhero trivia in the whole school be considered a superpower?

If so, Vincent Wu is invincible.

If not (and let’s face it, it’s “not”), then Vincent and his pals Max and George don’t get any props for being the leaders (and, well, sole members) of the (unofficial) Captain Stupendous Fan Club.

But what happens when the Captain is hurt in an incident involving BOTH Professor Mayhem and his giant indestructible robot AND (mortifyingly) Polly Winnicott-Lee, the girl Vincent totally has a crush on?

The entire city is in danger, Vincent’s parents and his friends aren’t safe, the art teacher has disappeared, and talking to Polly is REALLY, REALLY AWKWARD.

Only Vincent Wu has what it takes to save the Captain, overcome Professor Mayhem, rally his friends, and figure out what to say to Polly. But will anyone take him seriously? Seriously. Anyone??

Find out in this action-packed super comedy debut.

First Sentence: "There are four Captain Stupendous fan clubs in Copperplate City, but ours is the only one that doesn't suck."

As a huge fan of superhero stories, I could not resist Mike Jung's debut novel, Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities. Yet again, my instincts for middle grade novels have served me well, because Jung's novel is every bit as stupendous as its main superhero.

Packed with superhero stunts and villainous mayhem, Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities will surely delight any and all superhero fans. The tone matches up well with the movie The Incredibles, fun, action-packed, focused on family, and with a little bit of romance on the side. For older readers, Jung throws in cute references to classics of the superhero genre. For example, I noticed a street named after Brian Michael Bendis.

Vincent Wu and his friends run their own (unofficial) fan club for the city's famed superhero Captain Stupendous. Vincent, Max and George are not remotely popular, but they have each other and can comfort themselves in the awareness of their superior knowledge of Stupendous' exploits. Their lives get changed for the more exciting when they learn the secret identity of Captain Stupendous...and he's not anyone they ever would have expected.

Vincent, Max, and George make such a convincing group of nerdy friends. They squabble, have their own sets of inside jokes, tease each other mercilessly, and, most importantly, have each others' backs when need arises. The inclusion of Polly is my favorite part, because she shows them how powerful girls can be, even though they have trouble believing that at first. Polly totally rocks, and I love the wonderful message that Jung sends about strength through her character.

Vincent's parents are largely absent during the book, divorced and both busy with their jobs, father as a genius inventor and mother as school superintendent. However, despite their lack of physical presence, there is no doubt of how much they care for their son. They call him and check on him, and do their best to protect him. Perhaps most touching is his relationship with his mother's boyfriend, Detective Carpenter. He treats Vincent with respect and honors his opinions in a way Vincent hasn't ever really felt from adults, which helps him open up in this new set of challenges.

Serious messages aside, this book is almost entirely hilarious. There's the awkwardness of first crushes, the superhero/villain banter, and plenty of gross scenes, including one rather spectacular one involving a lot of vomit. Young readers will no doubt love all of these things. To top it all off, there's a scary robot and a bunch of epic battles. What more could you ask for?

The supervillain plot follows well-tread lines, and will not be shocking to older readers. Really, though, the focus is not on the supervillain, so much on heroism and how size doesn't really matter when it comes to defeating the bad guy. Though a bit anticlimactic, the showdown with the villain is hilarious and fitting. Just know that this isn't one of those stories that ends with the defeat of the villain.

I highly recommend Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities for anyone who enjoys superhero tales, young and old alike. The book reads quickly, and comes with a bunch of perfectly-matched illustrations by Mike Maihack.

Rating: 4/5

Favorite Quote: "We talked and talked and talked, and after twenty-four hours of non-stop Mom time, I was ready to hit myself in the face with a hammer."

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Blogger The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

Grr-I had the chance to read this and passed it up because I was flooded with so many other books. I'm really bummed as funny stories are definitely my preference over anything dramatic or melodramatic. Thanks for the review (and for giving me an idea of what to spend my Christmas giftcards on).

December 28, 2012 at 1:15 AM  
Blogger roro said...

i never heard of it and now i want itttt ^^

December 28, 2012 at 1:30 AM  
Blogger Brandy said...

I can't wait to read this one. My daughter is very interested in it too, but didn't tell me that until I bought her Christmas presents. If our library doesn't get a copy in January I will just go ahead and buy it.

December 28, 2012 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Awwww, too bad! I've regretted that decision in the past too. It happens to the best of us!

December 28, 2012 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger Christina said...


December 28, 2012 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Whoops! Good luck procuring a copy!

December 28, 2012 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger Jenni said...

This sounds really fun! I like that even though the parents are physically absent for much of the book you know that they care and are putting in every effort to keep up with their kid. I love that this is funny! I think I'll give this one a go. Happy it didn't bite you in the ass!

December 28, 2012 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger Kayla Beck said...

I haven't heard of this one yet, but I know that I want to read it just from skimming your review. :-)

December 28, 2012 at 11:01 PM  
Blogger Lilian said...

I love a hilarious read any day, but after The Vindico, I'm not sure I can handle the cheesiness of superheros (especially middle grade) anymore. At least they aren't in rainbow tights.

Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

December 30, 2012 at 2:31 AM  
Blogger Christina Fiorelli said...

This sounds really really great!! LOVE the concept:)

Lovely review:))

December 30, 2012 at 6:47 AM  
Blogger Mild-Mannered Mastermind said...

This seems like fun! I'll have to check it out sometime.

December 31, 2012 at 12:30 AM  

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