Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Review: The Geek Feminist Revolution

The Geek Feminist Revolution The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"The Geek Feminist Revolution" sounds like literally everything I would want out of a book of essays. It's one of those books I heard about months ago and instantly marked the release date on my calendar. Unfortunately, while it's a pretty good collection, it definitely suffered from by super high expectations.

The collection is broken into four parts: Level Up, Geek, Let's Get Personal, and Revolution. They're roughly themed into essays about writing, pop culture, the author's life, and social justice movements, respectively. There's some overlap - in fact, a lot of overlap, which is reflective of one of the key problems I had with this collection. Much of the content is repetitive. There are a few major incidents in the author's life that are the focus of personal essays but also appear in many of the other essays, either as a core theme or in passing. The essays are, obviously, generally all related to geek feminism, which I love, but which gets treated with pretty much the same few notes in all of her essays.

It's the same problem I had with "Bad Feminist." I like all the content, but collecting previously-published thinkpieces/personal essays by one author into a collection reveals that 1) the essays are all pretty similar, 2) thinkpieces are short and 3) internet publishing favors strong, vibrant rhetoric over nuanced logical argument. To be clear - I'm not saying that either is better, or that the latter is absent from either of the collections. I favor academic writing because that's what I'm familiar with. If I'd read all of Hurley's pieces separately spread over the several years they were originally published, I'd appreciate them more. She has several pieces where she takes nuanced, controversial stances and defends them well. There are others where she argues from a place of passion for things that I also strongly believe in, but her approach loses all steam if you don't already agree with everything she's saying. Not every piece has to be written to argue, to persuade, to convince - some can just be written to 'y'know what? I think this sucks, don't you?' and vent some steam. But there were too many of those for me in this collection.

It's a breeze to read, though, and I especially loved her essays on her history and her writing. I read the essays in the first section slowly, one at a time, because every time I finished one I immediately wanted to spend the rest of the night writing stories. It was inspiring. And for such a young author, she's lived a (hard, but) incredibly interesting life.

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