Geek Love — Review

July 26, 2014

Geek
1: a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake
2: a person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked
3: an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity
— Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love had been on my list for a while when I read a piece about it on Book Riot. It really intrigued me, so Geek Love moved to the top of my list. The thing is, throughout reading the piece and the book’s subsequent rocketing to the top of my TBR list, and even as I started reading, I was still thinking of the more prolific definition of the word “geek.”

To steal from John Green, it was “slowly, and then all at once” that I realized that the “geeks” in this book were of a different variety (and it only occurred to me to look it up to see if there was an alternate definition while writing this — or initial as the case may be — go figure).

So once that was cleared up and I could really focus on the book I found it… unsettling. There is so much that happens in this book that is deeply disturbing. Part of what makes so much of this book troubling is the characters’ agency in events.

Typically, when there is a bad or disturbing element in a book it is due to something outside of the control of the character. In Geek Love the dysfunction in the family and lives of the characters causes them to consciously make decisions that they know will cause chaos.

This was a difficult book to stomach, but it’s an interesting book and if you’re okay with kind of horrible things in books than you should give it a go. It has definitely made me think about characters and families and family dynamics and the concept of normalcy. And that’s what books are supposed to do: they’re supposed to make you feel something, even if that something is somewhat uncomfortable, and, most of all, they’re supposed to make you think.

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