Review: Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

Chaotic Good by Whitney GardnerChaotic Good
Whitney Gardner
Knopf
Published on March 13, 2018

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About Chaotic Good
Cameron’s cosplay–dressing like a fictional character–is finally starting to earn her attention–attention she hopes to use to get into the CalTech costume department for college. But when she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans.

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 bro 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.

My Review
I had a ton of fun reading this story for its inclusion of Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) references and even descriptions of play as well as the scenes where Cameron sews costumes. I liked her spunky attitude and soft heart made me root for her from the first page to the last. Wyatt (Why) had me at hello. Such a great, offbeat character. Loved him!

The DnD parts of the story cracked me up and made me wish I was in the middle of my very own campaign. It highlighted all the fun parts of the game but also drew some attention to some of the girl-bashing that can happen. I kind of wish there had been more resolution between Cam and the boy who harassed her in person. In the story it becomes clear he kind of doesn’t get how his behavior affects others and is deeply stuck thinking about his own past hurts. Obviously there are people like that in real life, and sometimes they just don’t grow out of those hurtful behaviors, so in that way the story kept it pretty real. I did like the way her parents both supported Cameron’s interests but also challenged her and protected her. (I know that’s really vague… I don’t want to reveal some of the story elements, but I liked the relationship between Cameron and her parents.)

Another great surprise in Chaotic Good is the way the DnD campaign is often relayed in the form of graphic novel panels. So clever! I loved that idea. It set the campaign story apart from the narrative in a really fun way and added some visual humor, too.

On the whole, I enjoyed this book and felt like I tore through the story, always eager for the next chapter.

Chaotic Good on AmazonRecommended for Ages 14 up.

Cultural Elements
Cameron’s twin brother Cooper and her friend Wyatt are both gay.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used pretty frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl and two boys. Cameron references climbing into bed with a boy she finds attractive. She and a boy get into some heavy kissing and making out. At every step, he asks for her consent. When he seems interested in getting under her dress, she asks him to stop, saying she’s not ready yet, and he respects her wishes.

Cameron finds herself the victim of some online bullying and pretty intense trolling. She torments herself by reading comments on her blog from haters. These commenters leave cruel and sometimes explicit comments, sometimes referring to her with derogatory language.

Spiritual Content
Characters engage in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign in which one character pretends to be a wizard who can do spells.

Violent Content
Some narration of battles described for a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Mild violence.

Drug Content
None.

Chaotic Good on GoodreadsNote: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

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About Kasey Giard

Kasey is a mother, reader and aspiring author. When she's not reading or writing, you might find her out on the water fly fishing, pretending she can keep houseplants alive, or talking with the family rescue cat.
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