I’m very familiar with geeky love stories. I first knew I wanted to date my current boyfriend when I made a Sherlock reference to him and he responded by throwing a Doctor Who reference back. There is no love more pure than nerd love, but don’t take my word for it. New and recent YA novels including Cure for the Common Universe and The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love delve deep into the heartache and triumph of being a geek in love. Being a teenager in love is hard enough, but throw in the added pressure of feeling socially sidelined, of being unable to find your place in the high school hierarchy, or, worst of all, of finding it impossible to meet someone who understands your video game references, and you can start to understand why geeks have it so rough. Maybe that’s why we root for geeky characters in books; they remind us of ourselves, and their ability to find love gives us hope!
Cure for the Common Universe, by Christian McKay Heidicker
Jaxon is kind of a big deal when it comes to gaming. Which makes sense, considering he spends hours and hours a day playing video games, often at the expense of doing homework, spending time with his family, and making actual real-life friends. Not to mention gaming isn’t exactly conducive to finding a girlfriend. Until, that is, Jaxon randomly meets a beautiful girl who agrees to go on a date with him. Too bad he’s then promptly sent off to video game rehab in the middle of nowhere. The only way Jaxon can be released in time for his date is if he can prove he’s beaten his addiction by gaining enough rehab “points” to be released. So what’s Jaxon going to do? He’s going to game the system, of course. All’s fair in love and video games.
The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love, by Sarvenaz Tash
Graham has been crazy about Roxana ever since she asked him what Hogwarts house he would be in when they were eight years old, and lately his feeling have shifted into something more serious. Now that he’s 16, he’s finally ready to confess his feelings. And what better place to do it than at a panel featuring their favorite reclusive comic book writer at New York Comic Con? He manages to get tickets and begins planning the most important convention of his life—but as anyone who has ever been to a con can tell you, even the best-laid plans can pretty quickly go awry. Between a bum rush on a panel line and a British geek who becomes a rival for Roxy’s heart, Graham has to find a way to salvage his plans and win over his best friend.
Bookishly Ever After, by Isabel Bandeira
Fellow readers, have you ever had difficulty finding a romantic partner in real life who can compete with your favorite fictional crushes? Well, that’s Phoebe’s problem. Her life revolves around her favorite books, and she’s not exactly the best at dealing with real-world scenarios. So when her best friend convinces her that Dev, a fellow member of school band, may actually have a crush on her, Phoebe isn’t sure how to handle it. So she does what she does best: turns to her favorite books for advice. Unfortunately, while YA fantasy may make for a great read, it doesn’t exactly give the best romantic advice. Can Phoebe learn to win Dev’s love as herself, rather than as a fictional character?
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder, by Julie Halpern
Whether she realizes it or not, Jessie is slowly becoming a full-blown geek. Or maybe she has been one for years, but until high school no one had the heart to tell her. But now that the older brother she idolizes is dating a popular girl and her two best friends have decided to ditch her for a cooler crowd, Jessie is finally forced to figure out where exactly she stands in her high school’s hierarchy. In her search for new friends and a place where she feels at home, Jessie stumbles across her school’s Dungeons & Dragons crowd, where she might just be able to realize her nerdy potential—preferably with the help of a boy named Henry, who’s pretty cute despite his penchant for too-short pants.
Guy in Real Life, by Steve Brezenoff
Nothing says love like crashing your bike into a drunk guy in the middle of the night. So begins the love affair of Lesh and Svetlana, two high school students who exist well outside of the popular crowd. Lesh is a metalhead who has recently taken to playing MMOs (with a hot female avatar named Svetlana…coincidence?), while Lana is an artist and dungeon master. The two never should have crossed paths, but after their fateful bike accident Lana finds herself sitting with Lesh at lunch to avoid the advances of leering classmates. Lunch leads to friendship, which leads to…do I really need to tell you? Geek love ensues.
The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You, by Lily Anderson
Excuse me while I fangirl over this geeky retelling of Much Ado About Nothing. All Trixie wants is a complete set of Doctor Who figurines and to finally displace the obnoxious Ben West as the third smartest person in her graduating class. Her not-so-friendly rivalry with Ben becomes even more heated when their two best friends begin dating, meaning the two start having to spend way too much time together. (In Trixie’s opinion, anyway. Ben doesn’t seem to mind too much. Hmmmm.) When Trixie’s best friend is accused of cheating and expelled, she has to put her animosity aside and team up with Ben to clear her friend’s name. But she’s DEFINITELY NOT GOING TO FALL FOR HIM, YOU GUYS.
The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak, by Brian Katcher
Orcs and Stormtroopers and zombies, oh my! Ana is prepared for her team to dominate at the quiz bowl semifinals. What she’s not prepared for, however, is her little brother Clayton deciding to ditch the quiz bowl in order to attend a nearby sci-fi convention. Now Ana will have to take the heat for her younger brother’s rule-breaking, and she has fellow quiz bowl teammate and all-around nerd Zak Duquette to blame. He’s the one who convinced Clayton the convention was too good to miss, so now he’s the one who’s going to help Ana track down her brother amid a sea of cosplayers, Trekkies, and all other nerds known to man. Hey, love blossoms in the strangest of places, including a convention center filled with Darth Vaders and Harry Potter characters.