Book Review: The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller

Madelyne Summers has crafted the perfect persona for herself.  On the outside, she’s a typical popular girl: she’s blonde, a cheerleader, and just the right amount of perky to always seem happy and together.  The problem is, Maddie is a total nerd on the inside.  Like, LARPing, comic-reading, total defcon-5 nerd.  She doesn’t want anyone to know, though, because it would jeopardize everything she’s worked for.  But when Logan, the super cute, super-dorky guy behind the comic book shop counter, figures her out, she finds that it’s hard to reconcile who she feels she is with the person she presents.  Can she be both?  And what are the risks if she decides to out herself as a nerd?

This completely fluffy book by Leah Rae Miller has much of the appeal that casual YA readers are looking for: there’s a plucky, mostly likable protagonist in Maddie, there’s a super cute and soulful love interest in Logan, and there are the requisite hijincks to keep the two lovebirds apart.  All of it works well enough, but it’s all very, very surface-level.

Part of the problem is that the stakes are so, so low.  It’s hard to take Maddie’s plight seriously when she’s worrying about everyone finding out that she likes to read comic books.  While it’s clear that this book is supposed to be slightly silly, lighthearted fun, it starts to wear on the reader when they realize that Maddie is kind of that shallow.  She really is.  There’s not enough complexity here for it to be a totally compelling read, and the narrative–and the plot–suffer as a result.

That being said, there’s some nice chemistry and banter between Maddie and Logan, and readers looking for light, slightly-geeky romance won’t be disappointed.  There’s plenty of the googly-eyes to go around here, and the book is pretty much squeaky-clean, so this should appeal to younger YA readers as well (or, at least, their parents).

Too much predictability make this one largely forgettable, though it will definitely appeal to readers looking for a geeky fix, as long as they can stomach the superficiality of it.

The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller. Entangled Teen: 2013. Electronic galley accepted for review via Netgalley/Read for the 2013 Cybils.

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