A popular girl risks exposing her hidden geek side to win a contest.
Sarah Anne only pretended to have “outgrown” MK Nightshade’s fantasy novels back in sixth grade in order to join her best friend, Roxy, in the popular clique of athletes, and she lives by strict rules to keep her geekery secret. But acing an online trivia game lands her a spot on a con panel (where she experiences sadly realistic misogyny) and eligibility for a new contest in which the person with the most points wins a trip to a special screening of the fandom’s latest movie. The challenges leave her dodging her friends and increasingly risking blowing her cool girl cover—and getting dropped by her best friend. In a dance subplot, the cutest, most popular boy in their grade wants her to be his date (and her friends pressure her as well), but Sarah Anne thinks he’s mean. The amusing obstacles Sarah Anne faces in the contest are counterbalanced by the nuanced social dynamics as the story builds to the inevitable turning point in which she needs to figure out her true self. Unfortunately, the plot goes a little off the rails in its climax, becoming harder to believe than Sarah Anne’s beloved characters Sir Oakheart and Lady Althena. Sarah Anne presents white, while Roxy and Sarah Anne’s would-be date are students of color; diversity is otherwise indicated through naming convention.
Mostly successful and entertaining. (Fiction. 8-13)