29 March, 2010

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder - Review

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
Publication date: September 29, 2009
ISBN 10/13: 0312382529 / 9780312382520

Category: Young Adult Fiction
Format: Hardcover (borrowed from the library)
Keywords: Growing up, Bad friends, New friends, Identity, Realistic but fantastic, Mathletes

Find the synopsis on goodreads.com.
How I found out about this book: Ingram catalog--anything that was pink in last year's Summer Children's issue got on my to-be-read list. I haven't been disappointed yet.

Quickie: It's pink. And it's covered in d20's. (That's 20-sided dice, to you, n00b.) What more could a girl want?

For more details, click on "Read More"

My review: Jessie's going through the typical high school sophomore ritual of (insert air quotes here) "finding herself". She loves math, audiobooks, and making skirts (themed with the kitschiest fabric she can find) which she actually wears to school every day. At first, I thought, "Hey! She seems like she knows who she is already, why is she still insecure?"

Well, her immediate company is not making it easy. There's Barrett, her cute, smart, super-cool punk older brother who can seemingly insinuate himself into any scene and immediately be crowned king of that vicinity. There's his totally hot friend, Van, on whom she has had a crush forever, who starts inviting her off-campus for lunch. There's her BFFs Bizza and Char, who have suddenly turned punk (after a few trips to Hot Topic) and are turning out not to be as good friends as she thought they were. Then there's the nerds. Oh, those nerds.

Jessie struggles with labeling, being used, and fitting in. When she makes sort-of-friends with the Dungeons & Dragons geeks who want her to help them make costumes for a live-action role-playing (aka LARPing) weekend called Fudwhalla, her sense of who she is goes completely out of kilter. Is she one of them? Should she just give up the notion of ever being cool? And why, oh why, is she dreaming about one of the D&D guys she barely knows?

I loved Jessie's funny, honest voice. Halpern makes her relationships realistic and engaging. I totally identified this good-girl's repressed frustration and feelings of impotent violence especially when people she used to admire turn out to be really rotten (BTW, playing a fighter-class character really helps with this--pretend hack-and-slash is so much easier to clean up than real destructive behavior).

The D&D plot device is perfect for explaining Jessie's various quandaries about identity--who a person is, why, and why they do the things they do. Ok, YES, I am biased--I play D&D. March 23rd was the first anniversary of the group that I play with currently :D which includes my husband and several really good friends who I am proud to call geeks.

I thought I should clarify some nuances differentiating the terms "nerd", "geek", and "dork". At least, when I use them.

All this should really tell you is that labels are unreliable :/ I am happy to note that all my geek friends have both high INT and CHA (intelligence and charisma) in fact, that's probably why I like them so much.

In all, Into the Wild Nerd Yonder is a light-hearted, clever coming-of-age story. I borrowed it from the library, but now I have to own it! (I wonder if I have enough gold pieces...)

Who should read this book: Touches on sexuality and quite a lot of cigarette smoking. Some swearing. 14 and ups, unless you're really sheltered, you're good to go. There are a few scenes designed to make you go *blurgh*--don't worry, you'll be fine. But you may never look at sugar glaze quite the same way.

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder is is Julie Halpern's 2nd novel. 

Find the author at http://www.juliehalpern.com/, on Twitter @jhalpern

Shortlink to this review: http://bit.ly/wildnerdy
Find this book on goodreads.com, or buy it now!


What do you think? Is this something you would read? If you've already read it, put in your two cents... (no spoilers, please!)


  1. Cute review. I have been wanting to try this one.

  2. This has been on my list for a while; glad to hear that it's good!

  3. Okay, I want to read this. *adds to list*