Thursday, July 24, 2008

Review of Just a Geek

I have been reading Wil Wheaton's blog for awhile now (can't remember how I stumbled across it, though--maybe through his work at The Onion?), so I thought it might be fun to try reading one of his books. His blog is entertaining and well-written, and I expected the book to be more of the same.

Just a Geek is indeed entertaining and well-written, but it is other things too, and one of those is: pretty dark for a good 3/4 of the book. I wasn't expecting that.

JAG chronicles what happened to Wil after he left Star Trek and struggled to find work as an actor, support his family, and confront the inevitable term that faces many "child actors": has-been. You really empathize with him as he details both hating the Star Trek legacy while also believing it was the worst mistake of his life to leave the show. The book is raw and he confides the really ugly stuff that most people keep to themselves: the self-doubt, the grief, the anger. It's pretty powerful.

It's also pretty overwhelming. I get the idea of a story arc, but the dark felt like it went far past where it should have. It was like, dude, get some therapy. You can't keep wasting your life bemoaning a choice you made when you were 16! However, I sensed that a happy conclusion was coming, because as I said, I read the current blog, and the tone is different. Sure, there's snark about the industry, but it's not so dark, these days.

Things pick up after Wil decides to start a blog, and through the process of learning people are interested in reading about what he has to say, become a writer. And, if you're a geek like me, of course you'd like hearing all the Star Trek convention stories. Patrick Stewart sounds just a gracious as you'd imagine. And Brent Spiner sounds much funnier than you would imagine. It made me want to watch Trekkies again.

He also details his feelings about so many ST fans hating his character on the show...and why he thinks that happened (mostly, the writers didn't write for a teenager very well). There's one funny story about how when he was at a convention, he came across some "throw Wesley out the airlock" buttons (the vendor tried to hide them but didn't manage to do it in time), bought one, and wore it. You have to admire that, whatever your feelings about Wesley.

I thought the book was completely worth the read and will probably see if the library has his two other novels. If you were at all a Next Generation fan, I recommend this one!

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