Chaotic Good by Whitney GardnerChaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

Chaotic Good

byWhitney Gardner

Hardcover | March 13, 2018

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Cosplay, comic shops, and college applications collide in this illustrated novel, perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and Noelle Steveson!

Cameron's cosplay creations are finally starting to earn her attention--attention she hopes to use to get into the CalArts costume design department for college. But after she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans online.

When Cameron's family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse.

Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town--her main destination for character reference--is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother's suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she's shocked at how easily she's accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her brother Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her "secret identity" gets more and more entrenched, Cameron's portfolio falls by the wayside--and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious in this geek girl anthem from You're Welcome, Universe author Whitney Gardner, complete with fully illustrated comic pages inked by Gardner herself.
Whitney Gardner is the author of You're Welcome, Universe. She played her ukulele in an episode of Portlandia, danced the rumba with Bill Nye in a New York swing dance club, and experimented with LARPing in college. She lives with her husband Roger and their incredibly cool pug Gouda in Portland, Oregon. Find her online at heywhitney.c...
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Title:Chaotic GoodFormat:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 8.56 × 5.81 × 0.94 inPublished:March 13, 2018Publisher:Random House Children's BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1524720801

ISBN - 13:9781524720803

Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Interesting Discussion on Fandom t is very rare for me to rate a book lower than 4 stars because I am usually pretty good at picking up books I know I will really enjoy. It was somewhat upsetting that this book fell so flat for me, as I had high expectations. I've wanted to read more fandom related books ever since I read Geekerella by Ashley Poston, considering she even blurbed this, I thought I would give it a go. This book had some good aspects and some negative. Let's not start out all negative nelly, so here is the good stuff: Chaotic Good has an interesting, and essential discussion on fandom and what exactly it consists of, and the different expectations of members, and especially of certain genders in society. The exploration of the image of fandom, how it is evolving and changing, and how there should not be a set image or standard to go by in order to be part of a fandom was a message that was very well delivered, and consistent throughout the story, it had to be one of the most interesting conversations I have seen on fandom. The other great point? CONSENT. Y'all, the characters in here were so good about consent in relationships, and I do even mean in sexual relationships, but even just with the basics of a romantic relationship. The idea of consent was brought up and shown as something positive, and healthy to have in a relationship so yay for that. Also, the inclusion of family and support of family and friends in this was amazing, it stands out, especially with the sibling relationship, and the acceptance of parents towards children who has more "artsy" plans for their careers. Now, this makes it seem as I adored the book, and although it was enjoyable, my main concerns lay with the main character, which is really why my review is settled for 3 stars. I disagree with a lot of things the character does throughout the book, I find Cameron's personality to be very selfish, and it was very aggravating for several parts of the book, the ending was unfortunately not enough to make her redeemable. I also found that the way Cameron went about expressing her opposition to the ideas of some males in this book was done in a problematic way, and most of the plot focuses on this, which made it hard to love Cameron, and the direction of the story. I feel like the book ended too well for her overall behavior, and she did not act like a good person, therefore I had a hard time with most of the book. I must say I did enjoy the side characters a lot more, which is unfortunate considering I only had one perspective to read from. Would recommend if you are looking for a book which brings a good discussion to the fandom debates, but would chose something else, such as Geekerella, or Eliza and Her Monsters if you want something you'll remember, with loveable characters and a heck a lot more plot.
Date published: 2019-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from D&D&Cosplay, a love letter to geeky and creative people everywhere In Chaotic Good, Whitney Gardner has assembled a party of unique and authentic characters, and sent all of them on their own quests that will individually challenge them, and in the end unite them all. Like a deft Dungeon Master, she's managed to weave a common tale through all their stories, one of acceptance and openness. This is a book for our age, an example we desperately need about how to align to Good by listening and understanding and accepting our differences. But at the same time it doesn't pull punches when showing how cruel and unthinking people can be. Like Gardner's debut novel You're Welcome, Universe, this is also a book about navigating the often choppy waters of friendship - and family. The first thing you'll notice Chaotic Good is how Gardner excels at building characters. Every one of the characters - even down to minor ones like the owner of the fabric store and Cameron's dad - is fully realized, deep, unique, and has an integral part to play in the story. I'd say the characters are also loveable, but there's a notable exception - and I don't want to spoil anything but even this presumptive villain will win you over in the end. And of course our inimitable Chaotic Good Cameron is impossible not to love. She's fiercely driven, and like Julia from You're Welcome, Universe, she has a passion that is bigger than life, that jumps off the page and animates Gardner's prose. She's real and vulnerable. She doesn't always make the best choices. Like we all have at some point, she gets wrapped up in something that goes off the rails, and she ends up responsible for hurting people she loves. Actually it's hard to pick a favorite, when her twin brother Cooper, dungeon master Lincoln, spiritual guide Dotty, and coconspirator Why are all so terrific. This is absolutely essential reading for our age. It deals head-on with internet abuse and its real effects on people. I've never seen another book that deals with fandom like this - how there is nothing wrong about liking something without being the authority in it. Toxic fandoms ignite the fuse of this story, and honestly there is no good conclusion on how to deal with them, only object lessons on being a good person yourself. Gardner knows better than to wrap up with a tidy "here's how you deal with trolls" because, God knows, there is no easy answer, just "we all have to be better." Let's talk about the comics! Did you know that not only do the characters in Chaotic Good go adventuring together, but also that their story-within-a-story is presented in full-page comic interludes? These are so delightful you'll be counting the pages until the next D&D session. Funny enough, it seems to parallel with the actual anticipation for your next game session when playing D&D only once a week.... Blending words and illustrations in new ways is now clearly a hallmark of Gardner's work and something that really sets it apart. All told this is a raw and beautiful tale of hurt and acceptance and yes, even love, a very contemporary story where drama is masterfully employed in service of a central theme, and a sublime, unique modernization of Shakespearian cross-dressing love stories. A must-read, and makes me so excited for whatever Gardner has in store next!
Date published: 2018-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this I loved this. I could not put it down. With themes of cos-play, Dungeon's and Dragons role playing and creating the perfect character garment, there is lots to love. Cameron, her twin brother Cooper and family have recently moved and are settling into a new town. She needs to be working on her clothing portfolio for her college interviews, though she is lacking inspiration. Trips to the comic store are dis-spiriting due to the 'anti-female' vibes that Brody, the manager, exudes. When her father suggests she use his D&D book as a beginning point to create characters, it starts her along a bumpy and twisted path to discovering her creativity and other things. I loved everything about this book except that it ended too soon. The relationships between Cameron and Cooper is tight yet not perfect. They fully support each other but at the same time won't let the other drown in self pity. When Cameron is working on a garment/costume, she is totally immersed. The description of her working was so vivid that I could imagine the shimmering fabrics and flying pins and needles. This book should have wide appeal among teen and older readers. You don't have to be involved in cos-play or D&D to enjoy this story. #IndigoEmployee
Date published: 2018-05-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Review on Fafa's Book Corner! Beware spoilers ahead! Trigger warning: Cyber bullying I heard about Chaotic Good through GR. It hasn't really been that well advertised or talked about. The synopsis reminded me off Moxie which I read and thoroughly enjoyed. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it! Cameron (Cam for short) and her family has just recently moved to Eugene. Cameron is a cosplayer and really wants to get into the university of her dreams. Chaotic Good begins with Cameron shopping in a comic shop where she is harassed by Brody. At some point Cameron gets a paid cosplay request. In order to make the costume properly Cameron has to make another trip to the comic shop. Although this time Cameron will go in as a boy. I had fun reading Chaotic Good! It's written in first person in Cameron's point of view. There are chapter titles and a drawing of a dice with the chapter number. Comic strips of D and D are scattered around the book. Also there are text messages and blog posts. I really liked all the comic references! There were so many throughout the book and it really did give the book a geeky feel. Cam's cosplay costumes were so much fun to read about! Gardner clearly did her research. From the sewing, the fabric shopping. sewing machine terminology, Cam's thimble collection, and to the costumes themselves. It was fantastic! The D and D role playing was tons of fun! While I have heard of the game I didn't know anything about it. The characters were so vivid as was the setting. The d-dice was also fun. For some reason I really like that dice. There was diversity! Wyatt was black and gay. And Cam's twin brother Cooper was gay as well. Lincoln was fat. I liked how Gardner did a good job intergrating these characters into the plot without making their character arc's only about their diversity. I really liked Cam's character! I totally understood and empathized with her plights. I liked how well done the idea and the act of courage was done for her story arc. Cam was nice and strong willed. But also had glaring flaws that were realistic. Her character arc definitely gave Moxie vibes and I was here for that. I liked the relationship Cam had with her family! They were all supportive off each other. And some of their lines to each other were so funny. The twin aspect was done well. Cam and Cooper had nicknames for one another. I thought they were adorable! The couples were cute! It was nice that Cam was actually attracted to a fat guy. Cooper and Wyatt also worked well together. The author also did a splendid job exploring unhealthy relationships. Cooper's ex Farrin (real name is Brian) plays a huge role in his story arc. I felt that it was necessary and not just useless drama. Cyber bullying is a main theme throughout Chaotic Good. Cam get death threats and essentially bullied simply because she's a female cosplayer. Brody's character plays a major role in this arc. As he believes that all females are fake and only into geeky things to get attention. I liked how as a boy Cam continuously gave it to him. It is implied that Brody does improve but it's not really shown. I do some have dislikes. For starters I think that Cam kept up the boy disguise far too long. To a point where Wyatt's feelings were hurt. I do understand why she donned the disguise but it went on for an unnecessarily long time. Cooper was selfish and annoying. It felt that he turned the boy disguise situation about himself. He was definitely right and he didn't know everything that Cam went through, but could've said it better. While the couples were cute it felt rushed. Chaotic Good is a small book that took place over the whole summer. I fell that maybe had it been longer that would've made a difference. Chaotic Good is supposed to be empowering for women. But I didn't get that vibe. When it comes out that Cam is a girl and that Lincoln and Cooper knew, the only person truly blamed was Cam. Wyatt was upset for a short time at Lincoln but that's it. This really grated on my nerves because I felt that it defeated the whole purpose of Chaotic Good. I really didn't like how Wyatt and Cooper got together. Cooper glues himself to Wyatt after it comes out that Cam is a girl. He did this to cheer up Wyatt by lending him his shoulder and to also start a relationship with him. This put a bitter taste in my mouth. I'm not saying that they shouldn't have gotten together. But I would've preferred another way for that to happen. While I enjoyed Cam's character I kind of wished we got a story arc with Brina (Brody's crush). Brina was so brave! When she came to the comic store she didn't freeze Brody, nor did she really care what he said to her and about her. Brina would've been an interesting main character. Also it is stated that Cam and Cooper are going to be in their last year of high school after summer. Now what I don't get it why is Cam applying for university this early? I know there are early admissions but I'm pretty sure those start later on. Could someone please clarify that in the comments? Thanks! Overall I enjoyed this book. I definitely recommend it to everyone. Especially if you liked Moxie.
Date published: 2018-04-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Read for Us Nerdy Females! I really enjoyed this book and it was a pleasant surprise because admittedly, I didn't think I was going to enjoy this book as much as I did. When I first started this novel, it seemed very different to the content that I would typically read about. Although I would consider myself a fairly "nerdy" female, I don't know very much about comics, cosplay, or Dungeons and Dragons. So when all of these things were introduced, I was pretty hesitant and apprehensive about how much I would like this novel. Plot twist, I thought this book was so good! Even though I didn't know the specifics of any of those hobbies or interests, the main point of the novel wasn't about any of that (although I did find myself becoming very interested). It was such an important novel and I related to it at such a familiar level as a female. Along with having an important message, this story unfolded in an entertaining way. The writing style flowed and I became invested in each of the characters (even a character who I didn't necessarily enjoy in the beginning). As well, I really enjoyed the portions that were told in a comic book format. It was an important novel about the power of being female but it was also a fun novel to read. I definitely will be looking forward to reading more from Whitney Gardner in the future. ***Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review***
Date published: 2018-03-20

Read from the Book

1  The girl section.  “Your boyfriend won’t like that one.” He smiles at me through his patchy, barely grown‑in beard, leaning against the wall of shelved comic books. I hang my head. This is exactly what I was afraid of. I knew I shouldn’t have come here. I knew I wouldn’t be welcome. With a jerk of his neck, he flicks his greasy brown bangs out of his eyes. He looks me over, his arms folded tightly in front of his puffed-out chest. He hovers close by, waiting for my response, dying for me to acknowledge him, not taking silence for an answer. His name spelled out inside a bat-signal pin: brody. “I’m sorry, what?” I ask, not daring to look directly at his face. I knew better; I knew better and I came into the shop anyway. I read the reviews online: five stars from the guys, two stars from the girls. I don’t need his advice; I don’t need a debate. Right now I need inspiration. And this guy’s killin’ my vibe. “It’s super girly. He probably won’t like it. When’s his birthday?” “I--I don’t have a boyfriend. It’s, you know, for me.” Dingbat. My fingers squeak against the cover of the latest The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, holding on tight. I’m kicking myself for painting my nails sparkly pink and curling the rat’s nest out of my hair this morning. I brace myself for what’s coming next. All I wanted was a few new cosplay ideas without having to pass the geek-girl quiz. “Oh! No wonder!” Brody laughs, and his expression softens. “You should check out the girl section.” “The . . . girl section?” I scowl, feeling my dark brown eyes turn black. “No worries, tiger. You’ll love it.” He ushers me, hand on my back, toward one narrow shelf in the corner. I step away from his touch as soon as I can, but I can still feel his phantom palm resting there. The shelf is in disarray, with a few pastel-covered graphic novels and some very kawaii manga. “Here you go,” he lilts, eyes lighting up his pallid face. “All your comics lined up just for you. That way you don’t need to get lost in the big-boy stuff.” Another patron snorts from the board game section. This is humiliating. I’m trying not to flush, not to show a reaction. I can’t let him know he’s getting to me, but I don’t think it’s working. What year am I in? What kind of backwater wasteland is this? I swallow hard. “Welp, I am a big boy, so, if you don’t mind.” I sidestep him on my way out of the “girl section.” I try to stomp my feet as I go, but I’m wearing ballet flats, so I hardly make a sound. Brody’s black leather boots echo through the shop as he follows me. Why is he following me? Leave me alone. “Big boy in a pink dress, huh?” Why, oh why, did I wear the doughnut dress today? “Yep.” I try to sound preoccupied as I flip through an old issue of X‑Men, looking for Jubilee. I’ve been dying to replicate that yellow coat of hers. “So you like X‑Men?” Brody stands over me, reeking of arrogance and body spray. “Sure.” “Gen X, First Class, ’92? What’re we talkin’ here?” He combs through the comics, pretending to help. I don’t want to answer him, but the way he reaches over my head is a little intimidating. Maybe if I answer, he’ll leave me alone. “Whichever one Jubilee is in.” “Jubilee? Jesus.” He pinches the bridge of his nose and winces. “Jubilee is awesome.” “Jubes is the worst X‑Men of all time. The worst. Worse than Dazzler.” “Who?” Crap. And with that one little word, I know I’ve screwed up. One little word out of my big mouth and I’ve sealed my fate. Again. Why should it matter if I know who Dazzler is? How am I supposed to learn without buying the comics first? I pivot over to the next shelf and cough, hoping he didn’t hear me. “I knew it! I knew you didn’t know anything about X‑Men. What are you really looking for? Attention? A boyfriend?” “I’m looking for comics!” I snap at him. My black hair flies in front of my face. I brush it away. I try to channel Liv, who would know exactly what to say. She would put him in his place. “Is my girl cash not worth as much as your boy bucks?” I feel myself shrinking; he laughs at me while I try to remove the gold ballet flat from my stupid mouth. “Who said I have to be an expert to like something, or to shop here?” I wave the comics in his grinning face, trying to distract from the awkwardness. I’m a thousand percent done. I wish I were She-Hulk. I’d have smashed him and the entire “girl section” to bits by now. “You don’t have to get all snippy. Just hoping you can explain,” he starts, “why you’re buying comics if you don’t even read them.” Brody doesn’t get angry. He doesn’t even look annoyed. He talks to me like I’m six years old. Like he knows better. He doesn’t. “Excuse you--I read comics. I love comics,” I say under my breath. I’m scared to raise my voice despite how angry I am. From now on I’ll be doing all my shopping online, that’s for sure. “But you don’t even know who--” “I know enough. Okay?” I snap. “I know all their costumes by heart, and one day I’ll be making--” “Costumes?! That’s what you’re into, their outfits? Oh God . . . you’re not one of those cosplay chicks, are you?” Brody reels back, face scrunched up as if he caught a whiff of something more rotten than his body spray. He looks me over again from my shoes to my shoulders, not bothering to look me in the eyes, disgusted. Every second I stand here is excruciating. I wish I had never come in. I should have waited to go back to Portland. I should have saved up to buy an iPad so I’d never have to leave the house to buy a comic again. I can’t bring myself to say anything else. There’s nothing I can actually say. Nothing that would make a difference. I’m ready to run--screw inspiration--when the staff door bangs open. Another employee stands in the doorway, balancing six boxes in his dark brown arms. Great, now he’s got backup. “Ayo, Brody! New Dark Horse shipment came in,” he says, nodding toward the back room. Brody takes his cue and leaves us with one last laugh. “Come on, I’ll ring you up.” I follow without questioning, keeping my eyes focused on his red Vans and rolled‑up cuffs. “Oh! Nice choice. Let’s kick some butts and eat some nuts!” he chants while typing into the staff computer. I nearly choke on the spearmint gum I’m chewing. “What?!” “You’ll see.” He smiles. He’s younger than Brody, with a short golden-bleached Afro. His name tag only says why. “It’s one of my faves.” “Yeah? You shop in the girl section?” I growl back at him under my breath. Just ring me up so I can get out of here. The attention is getting to me. I start peeling the polish off my nails; the glittery flakes fall to the ground. “Ugh. He brought that up? I’ve been trying to talk him out of that girl section since I started here--it’s hella annoying.” Embarrassed, Why pushes his red frames up onto the bridge of his nose. The lenses are covered in so many fingerprints and smudges I’m surprised he can see me at all. “Sure.” “No, really. I know it’s stupid, right? But his uncle owns the shop. Brody pretty much acts like he runs the place.” “Good for him.” I hand Why my debit card, no receipt, and rush to the door. “Hey, wait! Do you want to enter a raffle? It’s for--” “No thanks!” I cut him off, and get the hell out of there.   Atomix Comix is the only decent place left to buy comics in Eugene after Vanishing Planet vanished. Apparently, they went under without the extra income from selling board games, toys, and knickknacks. I never even got a chance to shop there. Now I’m stuck buying comics from grody Brody and the He-Man Woman-Haters Club. I squint into the summer sun. The main drag is all washed out and white as my eyes adjust to the light. I try not to think about Liv getting to work at Books with Pictures this summer. How she’d never have her comics-cred questioned because she works behind the counter. Liv gets to be on the inside. I wonder if she kept the Lightning cosplay I made her. After all, it was her idea to dress as Final Fantasy characters. And yeah, I don’t know who any of them are, but I liked the designs. I had no idea I was going to get called out. Not like that, anyway. I need thread. I need buttons. Hot glue. Sequins. Armature wire. A new thimble for my ever-growing collection. I list out all the things I’ll buy at the craft store to soothe my sore ego. I wish it were a longer walk; I don’t want to taint the one place I like in this town with the bad vibes from down the street. The bells on the door at Kozy Corner jingle quietly as I step into the shop. The air is heady with the smell of dust and fake flowers. I’m home. I pace the aisles, tracing my fingers along stacks of folded fabric. My mind races through the possibilities. This vinyl could be Black Canary’s corset, and that intricate weblike brocade could be the lining for Spider-Gwen’s hood. And then I spot it. A summer-night-blue fabric, a blue the deepest depths of the oceans, an almost-black blue that practically glows under the shine of the fluorescent lights overhead. This bolt of midnight-blue satin calls to me, crammed in the wrong spot between some yellow and green felt. “Who put you here?” I ask the satin as I pull it out. I feel like fainting from just the sight of its cerulean perfection. I want to spray it with bleach and create a pattern of nebulas and galaxies. Hand-paint in stars, wire it up using fiber-optic strands so it twinkles, and, damn, what a gown it would be. I would wear it to the premiere of my first summer blockbuster. And everyone would know that’s Cameron Birch; she’s the girl who designed the costumes. I fabricated them too, but I forgive their ignorance this time because I’m too busy posing with Chris Pratt for the press. I’ll buy five yards of it. “Don’t you just look lovely today?” Dotty with the lilac-gray hair sighs as she rings me up. “Thanks.” I hope when I’m her age, great-grandma age, I look as cool as Dotty. She dresses sharp, severe. Slick black capes and pounds of pearls and baubles. I’ve never seen her wear the same pair of earrings twice. “All pink and poofy and perfect.” She kisses her thumb, her own personal gesture of approval. “Sure.” “What’s wrong? You’ve got a face like a wet weekend.” She folds the satin carefully before slipping it into the plastic bag. “Maybe too pink,” I tell her as she swipes my debit card. I look over my pink doughnut-printed dress, the one I spent last weekend sewing after a serious bout of homesickness. I never liked the doughnuts at Voodoo Doughnut, but I loved seeing tourists with their pink boxes. I even sewed on little beads that look like sprinkles. Now I wish I had made something more normal. Maybe I should just start buying clothes at the mall again. “No such thing as too pink.” Dotty hands me my fabric while the printer screeches out my receipt. “Thanks, Dot. See you round, I’m sure.”

Editorial Reviews

"Captivating.... A delightfully diverse, feminist, and realistic narrative." —Booklist

"Charismatic." —SLJ