I kicked off my own summer reading this year with Chaotic Good, by Whitney Gardner. The paper doll cover design combined with the D&D title caught my attention right away on the library display. Here’s the summary from Penguin Random House’s website:
Cameron’s cosplay creations are finally starting to earn her attention–attention she hopes to use to get into the CalArts costume design department for college. But after she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans online.
When Cameron’s family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town–her main destination for character reference–is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.
At her twin brother’s suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she’s shocked at how easily she’s accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign. But as her “secret identity” gets more and more entrenched, Cameron’s portfolio falls by the wayside–and her crush on one of the guys in the group threatens to make a complicated situation even more precarious.
When I was working as a librarian, we used to consider whether patrons tended to fall in love with books because of their characters, settings, or plots to help us make better book recommendations. For example, people who love books for their settings tend to be “books as vacations” types of readers. They love books about travel, but also books with rich settings, either real or fantastical. This book hit all four areas for me. I wanted to be friends with Cameron and work on costume design with her (and writing with her twin brother!). I loved her studio setting, the fabric store scenes made me want to hit up my local fabric store, and the Portland bits made me want to revisit Portland. And the plot - this is such an important story for the online bullying and trolling that too many people have experienced these days. It manages to be both heartbreaking and heartwarming, while remaining realistic to the magnitude of these problems.
Check Chaotic Good out at your local library, or buy it here from IndieBound. Happy summer reading!