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Most of the story revolves around a musical production of Grease taking place at KJ's school, Washington High. In fact, the book begins with a cast list noting all of the main characters and what roles they play in both the show and in KJ's life. The book is written in traditional prose, but instead of having numbered chapters, it is split up into five acts, and each chapter is a numbered scene with a title that hints at the action to come.
This book will give readers a newfound respect for theatre crew members. KJ works her tail off backstage as the stage manager. I was pleased to see a protagonist who took pride in her work, and happy that she wanted that position and loved it, as opposed to the typical "I want to be the lead!" or "I want to be on stage, but I'm too shy - Oh, wait, now I'm the lead right in time for the happy ending!" stories. There's nothing wrong with those stories, of course, but those behind the scenes really ought to be celebrated just as much as those on stage.
Musical theatre is my passion, and Grease is the word, so I loved all of musical scenes. I applauded the non-traditional casting: popular girl Tama, who has beautiful cocoa skin and sassiness to spare, plays Sandy; KJ has red hair and is, err, well-developed but so uncomfortable with her body that she covers it up in layers and hoodies. As an actress/singer/dancer who occasionally works as a stage manager, I really appreciated KJ's dedication to the show, and all of the little tidbits about the production.
KJ herself must do a little acting on more than one occasion. She's known for being the nice girl, and she's always tried to let boys down gently, Tama encourages her to be bolder, even a little rude, in an effort to repel the guys and stop being a geek magnet. KJ's home life takes a turn for the worse when her father starts drinking more and more frequently. KJ tries to hide her father's alcoholism from her friends and stay upbeat, but it's hard.
Kieran Scott has written a surprisingly poignant story with a healthy mix of drama and fun. She handles serious issues with tact and feeling while giving the story enough humor and sentiment to keep her main character positive. In addition to the drama on and off stage, Geek Magnet also has carpools, understudies, skee-ball, and paint. Lots and lots of paint. Throughout the book, KJ releases her frustration through her art, painting up a storm whenever she's really emotional.
Favorite line: Maybe every one of us had a little bit of geek in us. It was just that some of us were just better at hiding it than others. - Page 269
Trivia: You may be familiar with Kieran Scott from her previous novels (including the Non-Blonde Cheerleader series). She also writes under the name of Kate Brian, best known for her bestselling series Private.
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