Reader Gut Reaction: This is a quick book - not a short one, but one which gets moving and doesn't really stop. This is both good and bad - I had to read back sometimes because the narrative sped by me so quickly I said, "Huh, what?" and did a double take. The main character talks a lot, and thinks a lot -- which sometimes doesn't come across as smoothly as was intended.
Because the book has just a shade too much technical detail and description of the action - the witching stuff, in places it moves a little awkwardly. Overall, the pacing is good, an unexpected twist lands in a good spot, and the adventure buckets along to a sweet conclusion - possibly unbelievably sweet for some readers - which definitely leaves room for a sequel -- there's some loose ends left untied.
Concerning Character: Julie Richardson has a pretty normal name, and a pretty normal best friend - and that's about where normal and mundane end with her. She's the daughter of a witch, and is herself a new practitioner - emphasis on the new. When Julie and Marc see an elderly woman flung out of her house and then her cat propelled into the nearest tree by invisible means, they both know that something is up. The difference is that Marc hangs back to observe, while Julie leaps into the fray ... with predictably chaotic results.
Julie knows what her mother's going to say - that she's not fully trained, that she should stay out of the mix until she is. Unfortunately, when Something Bad happens at school, right in front of her, Julie can't avoid getting involved - whether her mother thinks she should, or not. Ultimately, as the level of menace in the poltergeist activity rises, Julie wishes she had listened to her mother...
Recommended for Fans Of...: the HEX HALL series, by Rachel Hawkins, Carolyn McCullogh's ONCE A WITCH duet, Kelly Armstrong's DARKEST POWERS trilogy, Dame DWJ's WITCH WEEK, and Meg Cabot's JINXED. Clearly there need to be more boy-witch books.
Themes & Things: Julie just wants her mother to see she's ready to spread her wings, witch-wise, and so she leaps in where she ought not - with predictably disastrous results. Because she got everyone IN to the mess they currently stand in, she has to get them out - there's a bit about responsibility, and when it's your turn to give up and cry for your Mama, and when it's not.
Another less incidental theme comes from the bit of geek-power in the novel - thus the title. Julie isn't so much a geek as an original - and her super-smart buddy, Marc, is simply that - super smart. Unfortunately, the plot dips briefly into cliché with regard to their high school status. There's a single-dimensional bully for Marc to contend with, and an anti-cheerleader - a super-beautiful Goth who is both Julie's best friend, and, abruptly vying for Marc's attention. Julie and Marc's interactions with these two are solved a bit too neatly for me - but we can probably expect Round 2 with them in future sequels.
Cover Chatter: Though females and faces on covers are not my favorite thing, I find this girl and the cover reasonably witchy! The topsy-turvy furniture brings to mind something by Dame Diana Wynne Jones.
Unsolicited review of a book received via NetGalley.
THIS OCTOBER 2nd, you can find POLTERGEEKS by Sean Cummings online, or at an independent bookstore near you!