Geek Girl: Picture Perfect/Geek Girl Series by Holly Smale
Picture Perfect is numéro trois of Holly Smale’s Geek Girl series. Now, before anyone freaks out, I know that I haven’t reviewed either of the first two–I kind of might have read them during that super loooooooooong period of absence on here (shame shame shame)–but they’re just so damn cute I couldn’t not do at least one of them! That said, this review will be on both the individual book and the series as a whole. All right so quick, rough recap/series summary: Harriet Manners is a high school genius with an incredible memory, an arsenal of random facts, and a penchant for both making lists failing spectacularly at anything non-academic. She’s discovered by a top modelling agent when a beautiful teen male model finds her under a table. In Geek Girl, her step mom Annabel doesn’t want her modelling so she and her dad take off for her to shoot in Russia where she re-encounters ‘Lion Boy’ (AKA. Nick Hidaka), the model from the table. In Geek Girl: Model Misfit, Harriet is modelling in Tokyo where she must deal with a broken heart (courtesy of Nick) and hilariously horrible disasters (courtesy of Harriet herself). In Geek Girl: Picture Perfect we have Harriet navigating her repaired relationship with Nick in New York alongside her family where she’s not supposed to be modelling but is.
There are two things in particular I love about the Geek Girl series:
- The equal parts giggle-to-yourself and double-over-and-clutch-your-shaking-belly humour.
- The wondrously random facts on nearly every. Single. Page.
It is all too obvious from the very beginning that Harriet is so not cut out for modelling; she fumbles and bumbles her way through everything she does but somehow manages to make it all work. While her perseverance is both commendable and admirable, it is the way she talks herself through things that’s the real entertainment. True to her ‘geek girl’ nature, everything she says is somehow connected to some tidbit of information. But the humour doesn’t only come from Harriet herself, but literally everyone else around her: her perfectly dysfunctional family, her hilariously harmless stalker/friend Toby, her weird-label-loving modelling agent Wilbur (with a bur and not an iam, Bunny-Boo), and the plethora of models you meet, from the hyphen-obsessed orange-wearing Kenderall to the crazy quirky Japanese Rin and her ever-entertaining butchering of the English language. Harriet also has quite the skill for screwing up in the most comical ways possible, making even the most mundane modelling situations laughable.
More than the humour though, Holly Smale’s is just so real, so raw and relatable. Though Harriet’s experiences aren’t entirely ordinary, everything she goes through both within and outside the modelling industry is mirrored in real life. Her struggles are yours, be it years ago, right now, or in years to come; it makes it so incredibly easy to identify with her. So much of what she does and says I could see myself in and I could cry and smile and cringe along with her because I was with her. Harriet Manners is impossible not to fall in love with because in may ways it’s like falling in love with yourself.
Now, there were a few things I wasn’t entirely keen on in Picture Perfect itself, one of which being the fact that she spends most of her time away from the characters you’ve already grown to love, without enough to replace them. Their absence is nothing new as each book is set in a different country and involves a new modelling adventure, but in the previous novels each place had a new, equally lovable character. This time that character is Kenderall who, while she does the job and does it very well, is not present long enough for her to grow on the reader as much as those prior. Also, Picture Perfect is set in New York City which, though glamorous, is certainly the least exotic of the places she goes (at least from my perspective). The central focus for the first half of the book is her and her family’s struggle coping with their move; as this requires a lot of setting up, it takes quite some time for Harriet to start doing Harriet-esque things and moving the book in the direction it’s meant to go. This makes the first half frustrating because it at times feels more whiny than anything else. It redeems itself though in the second half when Harriet starts modelling again and since the book is so easy to read, the slower bit is relatively quick to get through.
The thing about Picture Perfect though is that while all of the series is relatable, it is even more so than the first two because the issues Harriet deals with are more personal. Trying and failing to read Nick’s feelings for her. Getting too caught up in idealistic expectations. Losing herself and finding herself again. Being pushed around and finally fighting back. Harriet grows up. And the process through which this happens is easy to identify with, even in spite of all the modelling.
These books are to be taken somewhat lightly: they are not particularly profound, they don’t provide deep insight on a major issue, nor do they don’t have an especially rich romance (though it is positively adorable and I love it so much) or story line. HOWEVER! They are funny and informative, the characters are all quirky and endearing, the struggles and successes are so damn relatable, and through her modelling mishaps and just general screw-ups Harriet keeps you smiling and rooting for her from page one.
The Geek Girl books are the kinds of books that make you smile and make you laugh no matter your mood. They can be both the fun summer beach reads and the cheer-you-up rainy day reads, the silly book for when you’re feeling good and the uplifting book for when you’re feeling down. For this and more, Holly Smale’s Geek Girl series is now and probably will remain one of my favourites for a long time to come.
Click here for the synopsis on Goodreads!