Zoe Rosenthal Is Not Lawful Good

Candlewick. Apr. 2021. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781536214734.
Gr 7 Up–White, Jewish high school senior Zoe Rosenthal is a serious life planner in a serious relationship with serious plans to find the perfect college that she and her boyfriend, Simon, can attend together. She does not have time for nonsense. Which is why, when she becomes obsessed with the sci-fi/horror TV show Bleeders and runs off to Dragon Con to see the Season 2 premiere, she knows this is a one-off adventure that she can’t tell anyone about, especially Simon. But as Zoe befriends fellow Bleeders fans Liv, Cam, Sebastian, Meldel, and Todd, she gets drawn into a plan to save the struggling show from cancellation. What started as a small lie spirals out of control as Zoe falls increasingly in love with Bleeders and the fandom world in general. This is a fast-paced character-driven story full of geekiness. Werlin highlights the need for racial and gender inclusivity in geek culture, demonstrating how fandoms can allow people to truly express themselves, though most characters’ own ethnicities aren’t clearly stated. Teens will also relate to Zoe’s relationship and college search woes. Unfortunately, constant Bleeders details often disrupt the flow of the story. Likewise, Zoe’s transition from Type A super-planner to self-absorbed drama queen is perplexing, adding to a lack of believability.
VERDICT Though inconsistent, this novel may be a hit for geeky teens who want a quick, fun read. Recommended for middle school libraries.

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