White cis girl Cameron Birch defeats trolls in the dungeons with a roll of her dice, but online the attack from anonymous haters never ends.
Seventeen-year-old Cameron wants vengeance for the cruel comments spamming her cosplay blog. Disguised in her twin brother’s clothes, she visits the only comic-book shop in town with the plan to reveal her true identity the moment the white, male clerk accepts her. Like magic, no one detects her, but she doesn’t count on making friends with Why, a boy with brown skin and a golden Afro, who invites her in her male guise to join a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. On top of the stress of keeping up the lie that she is a boy, Cameron’s future hangs in the balance with the upcoming portfolio review for her dream college. The story transitions between first-person prose and comics to represent shifts between Cameron’s real life and the role-playing fantasy. The comics add a deeper level of immersion by providing readers with visual representation of Cameron’s imagination. While the book rightly champions issues of consent and inclusion for cisgender girls in geek culture, Gardner’s choice to have Cameron dress as a guy for a prank perpetuates a dangerous association between gender expression and deception—a choice that undercuts her point.
Although cleverly formatted with a high-stakes plot, cis-normativity taints this feminist critique of toxic masculinity in geek culture. (Fiction. 14-18)