4 star, YA

Review: Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

Chaotic Good Comps14.inddCameron’s cosplay–dressing like a fictional character–is finally starting to earn her attention–attention she hopes to use to get into the CalTech costume department for college. But when she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans.

When Cameron’s family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town–her main destination for character reference–is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother’s suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she’s shocked at how easily she’s accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her bro Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her “secret identity” gets more and more entrenched, Cameron’s portfolio falls by the wayside–and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious.

4 Drink Me Potions

Everyone, be prepared to get your nerdiness on! And be proud of it! ‘Cause Chaotic Good brings out the inner geeks for a wild celebration of cosplay, D&D and superhero fandoms.

While I can’t say the main subjects covered in the book may be something relevant to all readers – (like I’ve never tried sewing my own costumes before!), the themes embodied by Chaotic Good are universal that should tug at our empathy. How many of us have been bullied – or at least teased – for the things we love that may not be fully mainstream or “cool”? How many can say that we wanted to try something new that others thought wasn’t fitting for us?

Here, we follow Cameron, a girl who loves to sew cosplay costumes and buy comics. A world dominated by “true” fans of mostly the male variety. While I’m always for girl power, I loved how the author doesn’t quickly lump every guy as all bad or every girl without her own flaws. We see cool guys who do like Cameron the way she is, and her hobbies to boot. And girl besties who may not be fully sympathetic to her predicament.

Aside from the themes, each character was fun and unique. The inner boy sanctum of Dungeons & Dragons players were filled with people I absolutely adored. From easygoing Why and Cameron’s writer twin to not-always-likeable Brody, they made a ragtag group that felt like everyday people you’d meet or want to meet.

And this also features a story within a story! For those who haven’t played D&D before, it’s definitely a huge role playing kinda game and my, the storytelling for their game characters was just as unique and adorable. Including the beautiful comic drawings inside. Imaginative and wildly creative, I flew through these pages not just for the main story with Cameron, but for the unfolding plot within their game.

For those who also love a cute romance, this book’s got you. While I’m not fawning madly over the love interest, I still enjoyed this element as it added more than subtracted from the story. It also helps that this book features the girl-dressed-as-a-boy trope that makes the romance more fun!

So yes, my inner nerdiness was awakened as Chaotic Good brought out the best of all that is geeky. Whether you also love to cosplay, read superhero comics, play D&D or just love a good contemporary, this novel was both fun and endearing. And the ending was the perfect cherry on top!

Overall Recommendation:

Chaotic Good represents the best of geekiness, featuring a relatable protagonist who loves cosplaying, reading comics and playing D&D. Balancing between the serious issues such as the internet bullying Cameron was facing and the fun aspect of D&D role playing, this book has a little something for everyone. Imaginative and empathetic, there’s no other contemporary I can think of that meshes the realistic mess of everyday life with the fantastical of other imaginary worlds we wish to live in as well as this one. Please do yourself a favour and give this book a shot!

Have you heard of this YA book before? Are you as excited as I am about the premise of the story?

2 thoughts on “Review: Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner”

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