Roll for Initiative

May 18, 2010 | The Publishing Industry

So, my hardback copy of Into the Wild Nerd Yonder arrived and I started to read it when I got home from work today. I did my usual speed reading thing and finished it in just shy of two and a half hours.

The first thing I’m asking myself right now is whether I’m even any good at reviewing books. I read so fast that it becomes less like ‘I am now reading each sentance in a logical and continuous manner’ and more like ‘I have plugged this text directly into my brain, and I am assimilating it Borg-style’. (The second thing I’m asking myself is who should I lend this to first?)

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern (or ITWNY, as I will call it for the sake of brevity) is a story about the making of a nerd. It’s not as rare as you’d think; nerds were not always born to parents who could teach them the ways of nerd-dom, especially way back when D&D hadn’t been invented yet. The other accepted method of finding one’s path to nerdhood is by falling into it, largely by accident, and that is the path that Jessie takes in ITWNY after the dreaded drama envelops her soon-to-be-ex best friends.

I suppose I could talk about good writing and all that, but let’s be honest here – if it wasn’t well written, I wouldn’t have gotten this far without at least warning you that there was a rant incoming. So yes, it’s well written. It’s also funny, and quirky, and amazingly light-hearted considering some of the issues it touches on. The characterisations are rock solid. The plot skips along merrily, never leaving you sitting on a dull moment, never letting the teenage angst take hold. It’s all told from Jessie’s first person perspective, and the highlight of the whole story for me was watching her discover D&D.

Yes, that’s pretty much what D&D games are like. And that’s what you’ll probably think of them the first time you play. FYI: table-top roleplaying games are that damn awesome and then some, and if you turn down a game out of fear of being labelled a freak, that’s just too bad.

(If you do decide to join a game, do not touch the other players’ dice unless you know it’s ok. You think gamblers are paranoid about luck? Just watch the meltdown that happens when some clueless noob touches a D&D player’s favourite dice.)

So yeah. ITWNY is not high literature. It is, however, simple, happy, and enjoyable. It’s one girl’s diary of her journey into the unfamiliar and sometimes unsettling world of nerd-dom, and her discovery that it’s really not so bad on the other side.

*pauses to put on reviewer hat*

Blah blah blah coming of age, teenage self-esteem, blah blah blah high school is tough.

Right, that’s that done. Here’s the Amazon link. Go buy it.