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Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe

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Bounced between foster homes since the age of seven, Jessica knows better than to set down roots. Most of the kids at her new Michigan high school think she’s a witch anyway (because, you know, goth). The only one who gives her the time of day is geeky Oscar, who wants to recruit her fashion skills for his amateur cosplay group. But Jess is fine showing off her looks to he Bounced between foster homes since the age of seven, Jessica knows better than to set down roots. Most of the kids at her new Michigan high school think she’s a witch anyway (because, you know, goth). The only one who gives her the time of day is geeky Oscar, who wants to recruit her fashion skills for his amateur cosplay group. But Jess is fine showing off her looks to her Insta fans—until a woman claiming to be her biological mother barges into her DMs. Jess was claimed by the state when her bio mom’s mental illness made her unstable. While their relationship is far from traditional, blood ties are hard to break. There’s only one problem: Jess can’t reunite with her mom in New York City without a bunch of paperwork and she worries her social worker will never approve the trip. That’s when she remembers Oscar’s cosplay group, which is aiming for that big convention in New York . . . So, Jess joins Oscar’s team—with every intention of using them to get to her mom. But her plan gets complicated when she discovers that, actually, cosplay is pretty great, and so is having friends. And Oscar, who Jess thought was just a shy nerd, can be as gallant and charming as the heroes he pretends to be. As the big convention draws near, Jess will have to decide whether or not chasing a dream of “family” is worth risking the family she’s built for herself.


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Bounced between foster homes since the age of seven, Jessica knows better than to set down roots. Most of the kids at her new Michigan high school think she’s a witch anyway (because, you know, goth). The only one who gives her the time of day is geeky Oscar, who wants to recruit her fashion skills for his amateur cosplay group. But Jess is fine showing off her looks to he Bounced between foster homes since the age of seven, Jessica knows better than to set down roots. Most of the kids at her new Michigan high school think she’s a witch anyway (because, you know, goth). The only one who gives her the time of day is geeky Oscar, who wants to recruit her fashion skills for his amateur cosplay group. But Jess is fine showing off her looks to her Insta fans—until a woman claiming to be her biological mother barges into her DMs. Jess was claimed by the state when her bio mom’s mental illness made her unstable. While their relationship is far from traditional, blood ties are hard to break. There’s only one problem: Jess can’t reunite with her mom in New York City without a bunch of paperwork and she worries her social worker will never approve the trip. That’s when she remembers Oscar’s cosplay group, which is aiming for that big convention in New York . . . So, Jess joins Oscar’s team—with every intention of using them to get to her mom. But her plan gets complicated when she discovers that, actually, cosplay is pretty great, and so is having friends. And Oscar, who Jess thought was just a shy nerd, can be as gallant and charming as the heroes he pretends to be. As the big convention draws near, Jess will have to decide whether or not chasing a dream of “family” is worth risking the family she’s built for herself.

30 review for Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mikorin

    This book owns my heart. While talking about mental health has become important in the recent years I honestly can’t recall a story where it is addressed in detail what it is like to grow up with a mentally unstable parent. Not the physically abusive type, but the people who slowly fall apart and can’t fulfill the role of guardian anymore even if they wanted to keep their children. What kind of emotional roller coaster it can create for the kid who slowly realizes that they need to stand on their This book owns my heart. While talking about mental health has become important in the recent years I honestly can’t recall a story where it is addressed in detail what it is like to grow up with a mentally unstable parent. Not the physically abusive type, but the people who slowly fall apart and can’t fulfill the role of guardian anymore even if they wanted to keep their children. What kind of emotional roller coaster it can create for the kid who slowly realizes that they need to stand on their own feet from a young age because there is no one to fall back on or to count on for support. Jess had known this from age 7 and she grew up into a teenager who keeps everyone at an arms length. Her various foster parents took advantage of her or tried to form her into something she is not so she doesn’t have high hopes about her new foster mom either and does her best to keep herself from getting attached to anything or anyone in her new life. Her one indulgence in life is goth make up and fashion and she found a safe space in the goth instagram community. She is used to people mocking and bullying her about her fashion choices irl so she doesn’t even try to make any friends at school. So when the geeky Oscar asks her to join his cosplay group she isn’t entirely sold on the idea, although she could use the money if they managed to win some competitions at the local cons. This changes when she gets a sudden insta message from someone claiming to be her biological mother and asking her to meet up. While Jess is aware what it means that they are messaging secretly- her mother is probably not stable enough for the government to allow them to meet up- she cannot say no to her. No matter how complicated and confusing their family is, she is still her mother and she still loves her. Family and blood is forever, for the better or worse. So Jess joins the cosplay team with the goal of using it as a way to get to her mom. The characters are so well written! You can tell that this is a passion project because in every interaction you can feel what a great chemistry these characters have with each other and how well developed they are, with everyone having their backstory and struggles and little quirks. Jess’s inner thinking is super fun and I love seeing the portrayal of fashion and make up as a way of enjoying someone’s creativity and self expression. I love her extra-ness when it comes to her “goth identity”. Oscar is an adorable blushing boy and they have such well written convos and I love all the sweet moments they share as they get to know each other. I love that they can share a hobby and goof off and pay attention to the other’s interests but above all else, they trust each other to open up about the serious things too and discuss it in a mature way, reassuring each other. I like that the things that they are struggling with are written in a real way, in a way that sometimes hits home too close - Oscar struggles with anxiety and talks about it in detail how it impacts his every day life and Jess is worried that she might have inherited her mother’s schizophrenia. I adore the way the writing discusses these topics, Jess worries that cosplay and larping aka play pretend to be someone she is not might push her closer to her mother’s illness. Surprisingly though she can separate horror movies much easier from the topic which I thought would surely be the more risky comparison but I like how it was addressed in the book. I love how the kids talk about people and things they can relate to which helps them cope with irl struggles, that makes all of these discussions more real and raw and relatable. I love, love, Emily and part of me wishes she and Jess had a thing. Barbra the foster mom is really awesome and I was curious to get to know her better. I don’t really have much on Gerrit as he spent the majority of his time chilling and playing games in the background, haha. I understand that the last third of the book was focused on wrapping things up but I wish it still had some more of those sweet bonding moments squeezed in between the eventual end game. Probably my only complaint is that the book was shorter than I would have liked, having some more bonding time and maybe a bit more of sharing from Jess’ side would have made the final parts have a bit more impact. Overall, a very awesome book with an important message, great characters and good communication!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    “The geek universe is a multifaceted diamond, Jess. Embrace it.” Jess is dropped into yet another foster home, wary of her foster mom Barbra and the new kids at her school. Her only true friends are the fans of her goth Instagram. Until she meets Oscar, a fantasy geek intent on entering cosplay contests, but he needs a makeup artist and costume designer. And Jess needs a way to get to NYC. Her bio mom reached out and that’s where she’s living. If Jess and Oscar can get their team to the World Cos “The geek universe is a multifaceted diamond, Jess. Embrace it.” Jess is dropped into yet another foster home, wary of her foster mom Barbra and the new kids at her school. Her only true friends are the fans of her goth Instagram. Until she meets Oscar, a fantasy geek intent on entering cosplay contests, but he needs a makeup artist and costume designer. And Jess needs a way to get to NYC. Her bio mom reached out and that’s where she’s living. If Jess and Oscar can get their team to the World Cosplay Con, Jess can see her mom. It’s a slow road for Jess learning to trust. Her biomom is schizophrenic. Jess has been in foster care since age 7 and even though foster mom Barbra seems nice, Jess has been burned before and is hesitant to open herself up to more hurt. This book has incredible voice. Jess is a tough, snarky goth on the outside but a gooey cosplay feminist princess on the inside. She starts cosplaying as a way to get to New York but really falls in love with making costumes, dressing up, and acting out characters. I like that she addresses the worries she had about pretending to be someone else. Since her biomom often disassociates from reality. The difference? Jess knows it’s pretend. The romance develops with a nice slow burn between two regular teens dealing with mental illness, family, and body issues in their own way. Some of my favorite scenes are at the cons. Lindsay does such a fantastic job of describing the costumes and characters, it feels like you’re really there. This is a must read if you loved Ashley Poston’s once upon a con series.

  3. 5 out of 5

    April Socarras

    Going to jump right into it, I loved this book. when the author wrote on the dedication page "This book is for the foster kids who are still looking for their forever families, and for Dixie and Kim, who found me when I was lost" I knew I was in for an emotional ride. this book not only was very relatable coming from foster care but also touch on mental illness and seeking help. hiding behind make-up and a certain aesthetic just to survive foster care. from the start Jess was very relatable even Going to jump right into it, I loved this book. when the author wrote on the dedication page "This book is for the foster kids who are still looking for their forever families, and for Dixie and Kim, who found me when I was lost" I knew I was in for an emotional ride. this book not only was very relatable coming from foster care but also touch on mental illness and seeking help. hiding behind make-up and a certain aesthetic just to survive foster care. from the start Jess was very relatable even her first day at the new high school I completely cringed because it was spot on. I later fell for her foster parent barbara, she was a breath of fresh air to read. she created this beautiful natural bond with jess and in turn supported her every decision from thrift store looks to sewing costumes for her side hobbies. I cried and laughed and cried some more. thank you Lindsay for writing such a beautiful masterpiece. for helping me heal some wounds I've ignored all these years. But mostly for allowing me to forgive myself like jess and accepting help and happiness. highly recommend this book to everyone, I guarantee it's a story you'll hold onto.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Leighton

    Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review! This book is perfect for anyone who has ever felt left out! Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe by Lindsay S. Zrull is a heartwarming YA book about girl who is constantly bullied but who carves out her own niche through her own strength and determination. The story revolves around Jessica, who has bounced from foster home to foster home since she was seven. At school, she's called a witch and bullied for her goth Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review! This book is perfect for anyone who has ever felt left out! Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe by Lindsay S. Zrull is a heartwarming YA book about girl who is constantly bullied but who carves out her own niche through her own strength and determination. The story revolves around Jessica, who has bounced from foster home to foster home since she was seven. At school, she's called a witch and bullied for her goth fashion. Meanwhile, online, her followers praise her fashion and make-up skills. One day, a woman messages her claiming to be her biological mother. Will their reunion be everything that she expects? Here is a witty excerpt from Chapter 1, which introduces us to Jessica: "I’d be safer if I tried to blend in, but I’ve never been the kind of person who hides. My black lace-up boots announce my arrival at Detroit River High. I own the corridor like I’m a model on an ironic linoleum runway in New York City. To my left, a group of band nerds snicker and stare at my glossy black lipstick. It doesn’t matter. You learn a lot of rules as a foster kid who transfers between schools every few months. Want to know what the most important one is? Foster Care Pro-tip number one: The new girl is always a freak. Just embrace it." Overall, Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe is a feel-good YA book that will appeal to fans of Raven from Teen Titans or Wednesday Adams. One highlight of this book is Jessica's character. Jessica has faced a lot of struggles in her life. Despite bad home situations and relentless bullying at school, Jessica faces challenges head-on with wit and internal strength. Honestly, she's one of the strongest heroines of any YA book I can remember reading. Another highlight of this book is the heartwarming story. I found Jessica's introduction to her new "friends" at school, like Oscar, to be hilarious and adorable. If you're intrigued by the excerpt above, or if you're a fan of YA books, you won't regret checking out this book when it comes out in July!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alicia Ceasar

    ***Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this book ahead of its release. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 4.5* rounded up to 5. Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe is the debut novel by Lindsay S. Zrull in which we follow our main character, Jess as she navigates her new foster placement. Jess is not new to being in foster care-she was taken by the state at a young age after her mother was deemed unfit to raise her. Jess has a set of foster kid ***Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this book ahead of its release. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 4.5* rounded up to 5. Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe is the debut novel by Lindsay S. Zrull in which we follow our main character, Jess as she navigates her new foster placement. Jess is not new to being in foster care-she was taken by the state at a young age after her mother was deemed unfit to raise her. Jess has a set of foster kid rules that she follows to avoid disappointments. She is a goth girl who has a very large Instagram following that doesn’t translate well to high school. She is an outcast that most people avoid. The exception being Oscar, a super nerd with a love of cosplay. Oscar wants to recruit Jess to join his cosplay group, which Jess has very little interest in doing until one day, her biological mom contacts her and this cosplay group may be her ticket to reuniting with her only family. I really enjoyed this book. As someone who loves nerdy culture, I loved all the references in this book. There were also certain conversations in this book that felt super really to me. Jess is a vegetarian and is used to just having to try and figure out what side dishes she can eat at any meal because not everyone is accommodating to what she wants to eat which is an issue I have seen my sister, who is a vegetarian, go through. It was such a small detail in the book but it really stuck out to me. I adored Jess’ foster mom in this book. She was everything that a foster parent should be. The struggle that Jess had regarding her mother and her mother’s situation were handled really well in my opinion. Also, the inclusivity the author included regarding cosplayers of all shapes and sizes was really nice to see. If you are a fan of Ashley Poston’s Once Upon a Con series, I think you will love this book. Or if you are someone who enjoys nerdy things, 80s references, or crafting costumes, you should pick this up.

  6. 5 out of 5

    George Jreije

    A heartfelt and exciting debut! This book grabbed my heart and held on tight from page one. Jess is such a fun person to follow, through the joyful moments of nerdy bliss to the heartbreaking scenes surrounding the realities of being a kid in the foster care system. The author crafts a story that will break your heart and piece it back together in a way that makes everything feel more wholesome by the end. I’m so lucky to have read this novel, and believe that there are many kids (and even adults A heartfelt and exciting debut! This book grabbed my heart and held on tight from page one. Jess is such a fun person to follow, through the joyful moments of nerdy bliss to the heartbreaking scenes surrounding the realities of being a kid in the foster care system. The author crafts a story that will break your heart and piece it back together in a way that makes everything feel more wholesome by the end. I’m so lucky to have read this novel, and believe that there are many kids (and even adults) out there who need a book like this too. Not just for the lessons either, but the cosplay, gaming references, and yes…Jeff Goldblum. You won’t regret giving this book a chance!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dennise

    Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. This book was a five star read for me, and probably one of my top ten books of this year even if it is only March when I write this. There were several things that I enjoyed about this story but more than anything was the representation it had. I love to see a main character who just was on the bigger side, and there was no side plot that focused on her journey to love her body. She made Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. This book was a five star read for me, and probably one of my top ten books of this year even if it is only March when I write this. There were several things that I enjoyed about this story but more than anything was the representation it had. I love to see a main character who just was on the bigger side, and there was no side plot that focused on her journey to love her body. She made clothes and costumes that fit her and her aesthetic. As someone who dresses on the more alternative side, I often struggle to even see people who have my body type that also dress like I do. I love to see a fellow fashion queen, and I appreciate her. I also appreciated the different cast of characters, especially with the backdrop of them being cosplayers. Oscar was a man after my own heart. I am a Mexican who grew up with nerdy hobbies, and my family was very similar to his. I am also a cosplayer, and to see a kid just like me in a book was an immediate tearjerker. Protect Oscar at all costs. The story itself was fun. I enjoyed the backdrop of the group of friends preparing for cosplay competitions while Jess struggles with the stressors of what it means to be a foster kid. She is often trying to protect herself while also learning what it means to be vulnerable. She also struggles with having a mother with mental illness and what that means for her too. I would easily recommend this book to others.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Puterica

    Thank you NetGalley, Flux, and Lindsay Zrull for providing this e-ARC for an exchange of honest review! For some reason, I rated this book 4.5/5, but I decide I will round it up to 5, since I love this book so much. The story is about a foster girl named Jess, who have been bounce between foster homes since a very young age because of her mother suffered from schizophrenia. Jess's goth style was popular on Insta, she has many followers there who praised her for her makeup and style. But it also ma Thank you NetGalley, Flux, and Lindsay Zrull for providing this e-ARC for an exchange of honest review! For some reason, I rated this book 4.5/5, but I decide I will round it up to 5, since I love this book so much. The story is about a foster girl named Jess, who have been bounce between foster homes since a very young age because of her mother suffered from schizophrenia. Jess's goth style was popular on Insta, she has many followers there who praised her for her makeup and style. But it also make people bullied her IRL. And one day, it attracts two people to come to her. One is her new-school-mate: a geek boy named Oscar and, suprisingly, the other one is her biological mother, who suddenly appear on her Instagram comment section. All of it was new to Jess. She was never had a (proper) friend, and when Oscar propose her to join his team for a cosplay competition, the reason why she accepted it was she knew if Oscar's team won the competition, they'll go to NYC, where she can meet her biomom. I have no expectation for this book, except how beautiful and exciting the cover is. Turns out i really love this book, and here's reasons why you should read this once it's published: 1. The representation of foster kids. I love how Lindsay wrote about Jess's feelings about being a foster kids. It's so realistic (and then i knew that Lindsay Zrull was once a foster teen herself). Jess's point of view was kinda cynical and sour, and she's clearly have a major trust issue toward foster families (and life, basically), but judging from her past, i think it's reasonable and it makes me want to hug her :( I just wished there are more Jess's past life that described in the story, because i think it will more elaborate her complicated nature. 2. The mental illnesses discussion: anxiety disorder and schizophrenia. I love how real and close it is to me. My best friend was suffered from anxiety disorder, so when Oscar tells Jess how is it like to live a life every day with anxiety burdened on his chest, i can't help myself from tear up. I love the portrayal of Jess as a kid who affected by her mentally-unstable mother. Although it hurts her many times, but deep down she still loves her so much, and she knows that it's not her mother faults she got the illness and have to leave her to the foster system, in order to protect Jess from herself. And also how Lindsay depict these illnesses, and repeatedly saying that is not a shame to have it, is so encouraging and heartwarming. I also like how Lindsay inserts Jess' opinion about mental illness in horror films. Because, as someone who doesn't like horror films, I feel enlightened by that knowledge. 3. The characters! Since i think this is a character-driven story, I love how well-written they are, how realistic and lovable they are all. Even Naomi, who only appears briefly! I bet you'll also love Emily, who's funny and charismatic. Gerrit, who sticks to his games, and Oscar, the nerdy, kind, and awkward Oscar! And Jess's foster mom, Barbra, who i love the most from all of the characters here. And also Cici, Gerrit's mother who gives big-aunty-energy. I LOVE their relationship, I love their chemistry. I love how they're all so care to Jess and to each other. I also love the diversity! Lindsay wrote about plus-size people and POC who often mocked especially in cosplay world, and she wrote about a community who are on mission to encourage them to keep working on their creative costumes and makeup. I love the genuine concern from the author and I love how she depicts that so good. P.S. I have a LOT to say about Barbra, so I think i'll talk further about her in the next point. 4. THE NERDY CULTURE<3 As a nerd myself i love to read how excited the team to join the cosplay expo and to become one of them. There are many references from popular stories, such as Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, Star Wars, etc. 5. BARBRA. I LOVE HER SO MUCH!!! The only thing that keeping me from choosing Jess as my favorite character of this book is because her attitude towards Barbra (although I stated in the first point that she has her own reason). BUT Barbra is the most loving, caring (foster) mother that even I want to have her in my life (like, as an aunty). I love how she encourages every good thing that Jess did. I love how she back her up anytime no matter the circumstances. I love how she's so patient and quirky and thoughtful!!! So, overall, this book is a really good story, a thought-provoking and heartwarming one. The writing is good but it's kinda feels like this is more a middle grade book than a young adult one, but it's okay i think, i still enjoy the story!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Meisha (ALittleReader)

    I had a hard time settling on a rating and formulating my thoughts on this. The first half of the book was closer to a 2 star and the last half could be a 3 or 3.5? The reason being that this was not at all what i was expecting. Sooo... Don't do what I did and go into this thinking its all about goth. It has a goth MC but it is not about the fact she is goth. The title was misleading... The cover and writting was juvenile which lead me to believe it was Middle grade. I thought this would be like I had a hard time settling on a rating and formulating my thoughts on this. The first half of the book was closer to a 2 star and the last half could be a 3 or 3.5? The reason being that this was not at all what i was expecting. Sooo... Don't do what I did and go into this thinking its all about goth. It has a goth MC but it is not about the fact she is goth. The title was misleading... The cover and writting was juvenile which lead me to believe it was Middle grade. I thought this would be like a cutesy gothic story... It's not. I also didn't expect Commic Con and constant pop culture/ pop culture references to play as big of a role in the story as it does. I enjoy Comic Con so I think it is a cool aspect to the story. But I wish it wasn't basically the WHOLE story. Aside from a romance, Comic Con and the characters skits are the entirety of the book and it started to irritate me a bit... Plus it made certain scenes a tad bit corny. Also the descriptions of the clothes were on going. It sometimes took half a page to describe one persons outfit. (And we have to go into deep deep detail on all 4 characters outfits.) So that added to some of my annoyance. I think I would have liked this more if it was more of a contemporary without all the Comic Con stuff. But to each their own... HOWEVER! I absolutely ADORED these characters! This is definitely a character based book and the author did an excellent job with the character building and development. Every character was very different from the others and were very distinguished in their unique personalities. They all had different backgrounds and they were all very diverse. Diversity. That's the other thing that I appreciated about this book. The diversity! There is an LGBTQ character, fat MC (and done in a positive way,) neurodiversity. There was so much of it and I soked it all in! As I mentioned before, their back grounds are all very different and Ienjoyed getting to know them on such a deep, real level. I loved loved LOVED that this brings up discussions on foster kids/parents. And better yet, its own voices! I was in a foster home and because of that, I saw myself in the main character. It has several other discussions as well. Everything from the stigma horror movies tend to bring on upon mental illness, the effects on a child after being placed in foster homes, the effect mental illness has ones self and loved ones, body positivity/fat shaming, so many important discussions! Discussions that I think a lot of young adults can relate to and learn a lot from. Discussions that Young Adults should be a part of. I truly think this book could really help a lot of kids! Basically the characters, their backgrounds and the important topics were so very well done! I just really wish that where it is already character based anyways, that it had focused more on being character based and put in a little more of a normal setting. It wouldn't feel so busy that way! But thats a personal preference. I think anyone who enjoys those kind of events, loves pop culture, darker but important topics or has been in the foster care system themselves, could really get a lot out of this book and end up loving it. Finally, I want to send a huge Thank You to the publisher and author for sending me an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! :)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Schizanthus Nerd

    Jess has moved from house to group home to house for the past nine years. Having entered the foster care system at seven, Jess doesn’t know what it’s like to have a safe place to call home. Foster Care Pro-tip number eight: Never become emotionally involved with anyone. Ever. Jess doesn’t expect this placement to be any different but Barbra, Jess’ new foster parent, is unlike any of the ones she’s had before. Jess’ look is inspired by the “patron saint of goths”, Edgar Allan Poe. This has acte Jess has moved from house to group home to house for the past nine years. Having entered the foster care system at seven, Jess doesn’t know what it’s like to have a safe place to call home. Foster Care Pro-tip number eight: Never become emotionally involved with anyone. Ever. Jess doesn’t expect this placement to be any different but Barbra, Jess’ new foster parent, is unlike any of the ones she’s had before. Jess’ look is inspired by the “patron saint of goths”, Edgar Allan Poe. This has acted both as a protective layer and a way to express herself. She never expected her creativity to lead to cosplay but if that’s what she needs to do in order to make it to New York to see her biological mother, then that’s what she’s going to do. Who knew dressing up in costume after the sixth grade could be so much fun? Barbra was a foster kid’s dream come true. A big part of me tried to keep her at arm’s length, just like Jess did, because she seemed too perfect and I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. Ultimately, though, I ended up loving her to bits and allowing myself to hope that she actually does represent reality for some foster kids. Goofy, geeky Oscar was absolutely adorable and stole my heart early on. His enthusiasm and passion were infectious and I wanted to watch him as he created the foam weapons of my dreams. This is a story of found family, of learning to be vulnerable and to trust, and letting people get to know the real you. The experience of being a foster kid was realistic and the discussions about mental health were refreshingly honest. It’s suddenly hard to believe that I’ve lived this long without knowing another human being who understands what this is like. The cover image, which I loved and was what drew me to this book in the first place, had me expecting a middle grade story. Imagine my surprise when Jess’ first day of school included a stranger mid psychotic break trying to get as many swear words in a sentence as possible and a reference shortly thereafter to a “kinky sex dungeon”. Spoiler: Not a kinky sex dungeon. I did get irritated at times by Jess fairly consistently saying “thank the Goddess” and the way it all played out was predictable, but … the story was just so heartwarming, the pop culture references abounded and I loved watching Jess’ journey through the pages. As I’ve come to expect, an email address that was mentioned during the story doesn’t currently exist. Every time I see one in a book I test it out, hoping that one time a publisher will figure out the marketing potential and set it up with an auto-reply. I keep hoping for something fun like a message from one of the characters, behind the scenes info from the author or a secret competition to win book swag. One day I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Until then I’m going to keep sending test emails into the void. Content warnings include (view spoiler)[mention of abuse, bullying, death by suicide, fat shaming, foster care, mental health and neglect. Readers with emetophobia may have trouble with one scene (hide spoiler)] . Thank you so much to NetGalley and Flux, an imprint of North Star Editions, for the opportunity to read this book. I’m rounding up from 4.5 stars. Blog - https://schizanthusnerd.com

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lena

    „Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe” is everything I didn’t knew I needed! In the beginning I was a bit skeptical about the story but after the first few chapters I just fell in love with the different characters and their stories. Jess is a foster child and already had a lot other foster homes before she got to Barb. In the many years as a foster child she made up rules for herself to not get attached to anyone. The book deals with important topics like mental illnesses but also topics like divers „Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe” is everything I didn’t knew I needed! In the beginning I was a bit skeptical about the story but after the first few chapters I just fell in love with the different characters and their stories. Jess is a foster child and already had a lot other foster homes before she got to Barb. In the many years as a foster child she made up rules for herself to not get attached to anyone. The book deals with important topics like mental illnesses but also topics like diversity in the cosplay fandom and body positivity. I really liked that all the different topics were mentioned and how they were dealt with. I also really enjoyed how everyone tried to support each other and to show that it’s okay to not fit in. My favorite character was definitely Barbra, the foster mom, but I can’t tell a lot about her without spoiling the whole story. She is one of the kindest moms I’ve ever read about! Altogether I really enjoyed the book and I needed a little break after finishing it to stop crying happy tears. I really recommend it to everyone who likes geeky books! And I want to thank Netgalley and North Star Editions for providing me with a copy of Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe by Lindsay S. Zrull in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tabby Newcomb

    This was an absolutely adorable and delightful book. It was diverse and well thought out. It also taught some valuable lessons about how you can choose your family and how true friendship is so important. I would definately recommend this book to everyone. It's a quick and cute read. This was an absolutely adorable and delightful book. It was diverse and well thought out. It also taught some valuable lessons about how you can choose your family and how true friendship is so important. I would definately recommend this book to everyone. It's a quick and cute read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Isaac Blum

    I wept onto my keyboard through the last chapter of this great novel about a foster kid finding herself and found family. The representation of both foster care and mental health are so beautifully done. I also adore books that make me laugh, and GOTH GIRL is funny! This is an awesome YA read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mandy Kell

    Thank you Netgalley and North Star Editions for providing a copy of Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe by Lindsay S. Zrull in exchange for an honest review. Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe exceeded my expectations in every way possible! I love this book so much! The mental health representation was especially done so well. I liked the contrast of how Jess's mother handles her mental health versus how Barbara manages hers. Also the chats between Oscar and Jess about anxiety and stress were realist Thank you Netgalley and North Star Editions for providing a copy of Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe by Lindsay S. Zrull in exchange for an honest review. Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe exceeded my expectations in every way possible! I love this book so much! The mental health representation was especially done so well. I liked the contrast of how Jess's mother handles her mental health versus how Barbara manages hers. Also the chats between Oscar and Jess about anxiety and stress were realistic and done with such empathy. Jess is a likeable character who is trying to find a home for herself despite her past trauma and current foster situation. The friendships that she develops with Oscar, Gerrit, and Emily are all refreshing and wonderful to read about. It was awesome to see her individual creativity encouraged and applauded instead of hidden and, when she was bullied, to see her stand up for who she is as a person. I adored the multiple levels of found family that the author produces with the cosplay group, the inclusion group at the conventions, and between Barbara and Jess. The "adoption" of Jess into these groups was gentle and realistic with some pushback and drama but eventual realization that they did really want her. As a reader who has been personally affected by the stigma of familial mental health issues, abandonment, the foster care system, and anxiety, this book is a must read! I would recommend it to anyone school age or higher and Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe gets five stars across the board!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Areadinghuman

    A really good book Key words: contemporary fiction, yound adult, foster kid, mental illness I got this book because I thought the cover was really pretty and I don’t often read books with a main goth character though they have a really interesting style. The story is about Jessica, who arrives at a new foster home and has to go to a new school. Jess didn’t always have good experience with foster home so she has set a few rules for herself in order to keep a distance between herself and everyone. Ho A really good book Key words: contemporary fiction, yound adult, foster kid, mental illness I got this book because I thought the cover was really pretty and I don’t often read books with a main goth character though they have a really interesting style. The story is about Jessica, who arrives at a new foster home and has to go to a new school. Jess didn’t always have good experience with foster home so she has set a few rules for herself in order to keep a distance between herself and everyone. However, some people are persistent, like Oscar who asks her to be in his cosplay team. Not everything is pink though, as she receives a Instagram message from her bio mum. I really loved the characters. Even though she seems a bit cold towards others, Jess is such a strong and loveable person. Oscar is also really cute and all of them are very supportive, especially Barbra, the foster mum. I enjoyed the talks about mental illness a lot, it was really interested. I like how this book pushes us to put into question how we view mental illness such as schizophrenia. I’m also a big fan of cosplay so what more could I ask for. I recommend this book to anyone who feels left out or is interested in a story about mental illness. 4.5/5 Thank you Netgalley for this eArc in exchange of my honest opinion

  16. 5 out of 5

    Britt

    “There is no exquisite beauty . . . without some strangeness in the proportion.” -Edgar Allen Poe This was an incredible read. Starting from the wonderfully designed cover to the meaningful conversations all throughout to the conclusion, Lindsay Zrull has given us something special. Jess has put up walls for protection; guarding herself from the inevitable pain of disappointment. When she finds herself with her new foster parent, Barbra, her walls begin to falter. And with help from her new geek “There is no exquisite beauty . . . without some strangeness in the proportion.” -Edgar Allen Poe This was an incredible read. Starting from the wonderfully designed cover to the meaningful conversations all throughout to the conclusion, Lindsay Zrull has given us something special. Jess has put up walls for protection; guarding herself from the inevitable pain of disappointment. When she finds herself with her new foster parent, Barbra, her walls begin to falter. And with help from her new geeky, cosplaying, gamer friends - Oscar, Em and Gerrit- maybe Jess can finally have a home with love and friendship. Important conversations about mental illness, the foster care system in America, friendships, and finding the middle ground between protecting oneself but also letting others in, continue throughout the entire novel. There are pop culture references and little gems of geekdom throughout and these had my smiling at almost every chapter- hello scream queens and Labyrinth! There is a strong message of inclusivity which is something I am constantly seeking in books. Zrull really creates a wonderful world here. “I love myself for who I am right meow.” Thank you to NetGalley and Lindsay Zrull for this e-ARC for an honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Frocks and Fiction

    I absolutely adored this book!! The writer manages to deal with so many important issues such as foster care, body positivity, and mental health in a sensitive and uplifting way. It was so lovely to read about a chubby alternative girl as a main character and see a character that I can actually identify with. I feel that this book is so important for young people today and has so many positive messages about identity and self-love. Also, I loved the characters and the way their relationships dev I absolutely adored this book!! The writer manages to deal with so many important issues such as foster care, body positivity, and mental health in a sensitive and uplifting way. It was so lovely to read about a chubby alternative girl as a main character and see a character that I can actually identify with. I feel that this book is so important for young people today and has so many positive messages about identity and self-love. Also, I loved the characters and the way their relationships developed over the course of the book. It was such a fun read, abundant with references to geek culture such as fantasy books, horror movies, and The Labyrinth among others. It was wonderful to see the main character finding her family and accepting love. I definitely did a cry at the end!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Saba

    I absolutely loved Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe. This incredible book thoughtfully follows Jess as she navigates living in the foster care system, having a parent with a mental illness, and building trusting relationships. Jess and her new friends are easy to relate to, and their adventures in the cosplay world help strengthen their friendship bonds. Pop culture references and humor are sprinkled throughout, as are Jess’s “Foster Care Pro-tips”. Zrull shines a light on mental illness and the I absolutely loved Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe. This incredible book thoughtfully follows Jess as she navigates living in the foster care system, having a parent with a mental illness, and building trusting relationships. Jess and her new friends are easy to relate to, and their adventures in the cosplay world help strengthen their friendship bonds. Pop culture references and humor are sprinkled throughout, as are Jess’s “Foster Care Pro-tips”. Zrull shines a light on mental illness and the foster care system as seen through the eyes of a teen, making this an essential book for every YA collection. Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe will linger in my heart and mind for quite a while.

  19. 5 out of 5

    ✨Elianna✨

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ASC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book was so good! The representation was amazing and the characters were interesting and well written. The plot was well done, and the characters' struggles were painfully relatable. The pacing was great and the comic-con cosplay aspect of it was thoughtfully done, and I adored the found-family in the book. Overall, 5/5 stars from me! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ASC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book was so good! The representation was amazing and the characters were interesting and well written. The plot was well done, and the characters' struggles were painfully relatable. The pacing was great and the comic-con cosplay aspect of it was thoughtfully done, and I adored the found-family in the book. Overall, 5/5 stars from me!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Julie Kircher

    I received an ebook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Edited to add: this is YA. Super cute, contemporary. First impressions Thought this was going to be a “oh I’m the goth chick in a sea of barbies I’m not like other girls” but i was wrong. The characters have great depth and personality. And I really enjoyed this story! Jess is a goth chick, feels misunderstood, and especially out of place because of her foster care past. She meets Oscar, who needs a MUA and seamstress for his c I received an ebook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Edited to add: this is YA. Super cute, contemporary. First impressions Thought this was going to be a “oh I’m the goth chick in a sea of barbies I’m not like other girls” but i was wrong. The characters have great depth and personality. And I really enjoyed this story! Jess is a goth chick, feels misunderstood, and especially out of place because of her foster care past. She meets Oscar, who needs a MUA and seamstress for his cosplay group. Together, with a gamer boy Gerrit and Emily a computer coder, they’re trying to won cosplay contests to get to NYC. Which is also where Jess’s biomom lives now. Cue creativity, adversity, and cute teenage bonding moments strewn in with real life drama. Will the cosplay skits work? Will the group learn some epic stuff about people different than them? Will Jess meet her biomom? Or will she learn that the friends she makes are all the family she needs? I thought at first Jess was going to be such a pick me girl, but she’s actually very understanding, and doesn’t care what other people do or think as long as they let her do her thing. Her new foster mom is so cute. She’s trying so hard to give Jess a healthy, happy space and encourage her sewing and creativity. I love it. Oscar is a geek, wanting friends and wanting to set his own path on making cosplay armor as a career. Emily wants to be a computer coder, making video games that actually have good representation. I love them all. If you like pop culture, nerdy cosplay culture, seeing people from different backgrounds, representation of different bodies, different lifestyles, different pasts, and cute stories of people coming to terms with themselves and finding their place in life, you’ll enjoy this book. Edited to add: also also I forgot to mention how WELL the author tackles topics like mental illness, family members with mental illness, and foster families like. Definitely did not expect it to be handled so delicately yet deliberately and without sugar coating or sidestepping the issues. A+

  21. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    You know how Charles Dickens always wrote about poor kids that rose to fame and fortune. That was because that was what happened to him in his life. Perhaps we don’t think of Dickens when we think of representation, but his writing, at the time, was showing a side of the British Empire that the wealthy were ignoring. As others have said many times before me, representation matters. And in this book, Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe, we have Jess, who is a kid in foster care, after her mother had You know how Charles Dickens always wrote about poor kids that rose to fame and fortune. That was because that was what happened to him in his life. Perhaps we don’t think of Dickens when we think of representation, but his writing, at the time, was showing a side of the British Empire that the wealthy were ignoring. As others have said many times before me, representation matters. And in this book, Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe, we have Jess, who is a kid in foster care, after her mother had a mental breakdown when she was seven. The one thing she has learned from this is to trust in herself, and not make friends, because she is constantly losing foster homes, and being moved on. She has created a persona around herself, of Goth Girl, which she uses as her shield against the painful world around her. The author was a kid in foster care as well. She knows what Jess is going through, and it shows. Jess doesn’t make friends, because she doesn’t want to lose them. She doesn’t get close to foster parents, because they always get rid of her. And then she moves in with Barbra, and goes to a new high school, where Oscar, who is a bit of a nerd, and loves cosplay and all things fan based, from Star Wars to Princess Bride, sees through her persona, and realizes what a great person she would be to do cosplay with, and thus the friendship begins, though not without Jess pulling back constantly, because, isn’t she supposed to not make friends? I love this book so much. I was a nerdy teenager, so into conventions, and hanging out with other people that got it. Wonderful book. Really. I stayed up late to finish sort of book. Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    L

    Thank you to Netgalley and Flux for providing me with this advanced reader copy to review. All of my ARC reviews are spoiler-free! Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe is expected to release July 19th 2022. Jess has been bounced around foster homes since she was seven, when she was taken into protective custody after her mother, suffering with schizophrenia, disappeared one night without a trace. Now sent to live with sweet-natured Barbra, after tens of failed placements and let downs, Jess knows bet Thank you to Netgalley and Flux for providing me with this advanced reader copy to review. All of my ARC reviews are spoiler-free! Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe is expected to release July 19th 2022. Jess has been bounced around foster homes since she was seven, when she was taken into protective custody after her mother, suffering with schizophrenia, disappeared one night without a trace. Now sent to live with sweet-natured Barbra, after tens of failed placements and let downs, Jess knows better than to think she can set down roots, and makes little attempt to befriend her new classmates. Her only friends are the followers she has on her Goth-inspired Instagram account, where she posts inspired outfits and elaborate make-up designs. Entirely without meaning to, she becomes reluctant friends with a boy named Oscar, a self-proclaimed Geek who loves cosplay, when he asks her to help him get in to a group cosplay contest in NYC by assisting with make-up and costume design, and at the same time receives a mysterious comment on her Instagram from someone claiming to be her biological mother, who says she is living in NYC. If Jess can use the cosplay contest as a way to get there without her social workers or her foster mother finding out, then surely they can be reunited. For a book I have decided to rate 5 stars, I went back and forth an awful lot about how I felt, but I’ve decided that the positives and the sheer fun I had reading this have outweighed any issues I might have had. This book definitely reads like fan-fiction, but it has an incredible voice, and picks up in quality after the first 30% or so. It talks about body shaming, different mental illnesses, broken and found families in a way that, although aimed at a younger audience, is respectful and impactful, addressing very real fears that young people and adults all face throughout their lives. I adored Zrull’s depiction of a foster child, Jess is a remarkably complex character once she begins to open up to the people around her. Although at times she does give off ‘not like the other girls, pick me’ vibes, for once I can’t say that this ruined my reading experience because Jess’ ‘I’m so different’ Goth aesthetic hit incredibly close to home. I remember being 16 and dressing like this, thinking I looked good and I was super out there. Obviously, I didn’t. I wasn’t. Jess isn’t, but that isn’t the point. It’s her inner confidence that shines, and I remember feeling that way too when I dressed myself up, regardless of what other people thought. Some of my favourite scenes involved the cosplay conventions, and I love how they became a staple part of the story. Jess frequently worries that her enjoyment of pretending to be someone else is simply an extension of her mother’s mental illness, although she does highlight that the difference is she can tell the difference between fiction and reality. It is a clever way of tackling those anxieties, and the idea of feeling scared of losing one’s identity to fantasy is something else I could relate to. That said, I did find it somewhat unrealistic that a teenage girl with a large Instagram following and an interest in Gothic fashion, music and films had never heard of cosplaying until someone else brought it up, but at the same time this is clearly aimed at a MG/lower YA audience and it made enough sense to do the job. Overall I had a great time with this. It’s such a heart warming book, very well written with a cast of diverse, interesting characters and a wonderful message at its heart.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Eram Hussain

    The story is about Jess, who has moved between multiple foster homes since she was seven. She was taken into the system as her biomom suffers from schizophrenia. Jessica has faced a lot of struggles in her life. Despite bad home situations and relentless bullying at school, Jessica faces challenges head-on with wit and strength. I loved the foster mom Barbara, she created a beautiful natural bond with jess and supported her every decision from thrift store looks to sewing costumes for her side h The story is about Jess, who has moved between multiple foster homes since she was seven. She was taken into the system as her biomom suffers from schizophrenia. Jessica has faced a lot of struggles in her life. Despite bad home situations and relentless bullying at school, Jessica faces challenges head-on with wit and strength. I loved the foster mom Barbara, she created a beautiful natural bond with jess and supported her every decision from thrift store looks to sewing costumes for her side hobbies.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sasha Volesky

    I’m left speechless for how incredible this book is. The characters you cannot help fall in love with, the plot and adventures along the way are great, pacing and writing is well done. But the thing I loved most was the open discussion about mental health. There are multiple characters with different struggles, and we see from all perspectives and it’s a main point how mental health is an important factor that deserves recognition and help, the book helps break harmful stigmas. Characters are sh I’m left speechless for how incredible this book is. The characters you cannot help fall in love with, the plot and adventures along the way are great, pacing and writing is well done. But the thing I loved most was the open discussion about mental health. There are multiple characters with different struggles, and we see from all perspectives and it’s a main point how mental health is an important factor that deserves recognition and help, the book helps break harmful stigmas. Characters are shown dealing with and living great fulfilling lives even with illnesses the media tends to show as evil and life ruining. Jess as a main character was amazing, she’s a teen and she makes mistakes but she learns and grows and she’s an absolute badass. I have nothing bad to say about this book, phenomenal new must read. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review

  25. 4 out of 5

    Layla

    I received an eARC through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 4.5 stars. A dedication to all goth girls out there and a heartfelt tribute to mental illness, in all its various forms. This story has wit, sass, nerdy fun but it also has really deep and meaningful conversations throughout. It truly highlights the highs and lows of being a foster child and the desperate need for connection that can sometimes come from those situations. I truly adored the characters growth throughout and the v I received an eARC through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 4.5 stars. A dedication to all goth girls out there and a heartfelt tribute to mental illness, in all its various forms. This story has wit, sass, nerdy fun but it also has really deep and meaningful conversations throughout. It truly highlights the highs and lows of being a foster child and the desperate need for connection that can sometimes come from those situations. I truly adored the characters growth throughout and the very raw and real ending.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Whitney

    When I first started this one I really didn't think I would like it. I was thankfully proven wrong. I really enjoyed it. This book is a look into the struggles someone can have in the foster system, found families, mental health, and body positivity. It really touched me and I highly recommend. Thank you Netgalley for letting me read this ARC for free. When I first started this one I really didn't think I would like it. I was thankfully proven wrong. I really enjoyed it. This book is a look into the struggles someone can have in the foster system, found families, mental health, and body positivity. It really touched me and I highly recommend. Thank you Netgalley for letting me read this ARC for free.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Raaven

    Thanks so much to Netgalley and the publishers for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. First of all, I absolutely love the cover. Jess and the gang completely stole my heart. As someone who loves fandom, cosplay, and just being a geek in general, this book made my heart smile. Seeing these kids navigate the con and cosplay world was extremely entertaining. I also enjoyed seeing all the familiar fandoms along with some new ones. I love going to cons and seeing the amazing costum Thanks so much to Netgalley and the publishers for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. First of all, I absolutely love the cover. Jess and the gang completely stole my heart. As someone who loves fandom, cosplay, and just being a geek in general, this book made my heart smile. Seeing these kids navigate the con and cosplay world was extremely entertaining. I also enjoyed seeing all the familiar fandoms along with some new ones. I love going to cons and seeing the amazing costumes and makeup so I would have loved to be there to see them perform. The discussions of bullying and being yourself really hit home for me. It’s always hard to be yourself when the world is against you and I felt so heavy with Jess and Oscar. Being your true and authentic self can be the scariest thing out there. The cosplay world can also be unforgiving in this regard. You usually see pretty and skinny cosplayers on the fronts of websites and at cons. The fact that Jess and the gang were ready to give a POC, body positive, and queer represented performance and shake things up was so refreshing. I want to see more of it on the real world. I also really appreciated the discussion of different mental illnesses as well as the difficult discussions of foster homes and being in the system. Schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, and bipolar disorder are all serious and should be talked about and not shamed. We can’t help the way our brains work, but we can help the way we treat those around us that have it. The sensitive and delicate way this was handled was very well done. Nobody is crazy and nobody should feel like they are lesser for who they are. I’m so so glad that Jess was able to find her found family. Barbra and her friends were such amazing allies for Jess. This book was incredibly adorable and Jess’s characters development throughout with her being able to trust people and believe in herself had me laughing and crying the whole way. The last few chapters had me tearing up a bit. Also that scene with Oscar and Jess at the graveyard. This was an amazing debut book and I can’t wait to read more from this author in the future!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Angela Clark

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. *Arc received from NetGalley in exchange for honest review* As a cosplayer myself, I loved this book! The characters were great, Jessica (MC) reminds me a lot of my best friend, she is very guarded and kinda vain but because she knows she has to use makeup and clothing to keep herself from getting to hurt. Also being a foster kid is never easy, her mom reached out to her and it cause some issue but hey that character growth baby. Which Jessica definingly grew throughout the story and I love her f *Arc received from NetGalley in exchange for honest review* As a cosplayer myself, I loved this book! The characters were great, Jessica (MC) reminds me a lot of my best friend, she is very guarded and kinda vain but because she knows she has to use makeup and clothing to keep herself from getting to hurt. Also being a foster kid is never easy, her mom reached out to her and it cause some issue but hey that character growth baby. Which Jessica definingly grew throughout the story and I love her for being true to herself and finding people that actually care about her. If you like this and also watch anime I suggest watching My Dress-Up Darling. The only thing I wish this book did was make it be set in like 2015 ish era bc Instagram was more popular then and Cons where starting to pop off and become more popular as well. I think if it was actually suppose to be set in like 2020-2022 Jessica would've been using Tiktok more than instagram to do transitions for different lookes and what not. But other than that I enjoyed the book

  29. 5 out of 5

    Susan Boyer

    This was such a sweet book that, for the first time, gave me a true understanding of the often heartbreaking experience of being put through the foster care system. No wonder: the author is herself a former foster youth and peppers the book with very funny Pro Tips. Jess is a wonderful and likable main character, struggling to overcome her fear of abandonment and suspicion of her new stepmother, Barbara, while her erratic biomom reaches out through social media. It sounds heavy, but there's so m This was such a sweet book that, for the first time, gave me a true understanding of the often heartbreaking experience of being put through the foster care system. No wonder: the author is herself a former foster youth and peppers the book with very funny Pro Tips. Jess is a wonderful and likable main character, struggling to overcome her fear of abandonment and suspicion of her new stepmother, Barbara, while her erratic biomom reaches out through social media. It sounds heavy, but there's so much lighthearted fun in Jesses' relationship with adorable Oscar, who pulls her into his cosplay troupe to compete in local competitions. And Jesses' relationship with Barbara deepens as Jess begins to let her guard down and let Barbara in. An engaging debut by a writer to watch, highly recommended!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    I. Loved. This. Book. I was sold on the description alone (a goth girl in foster care who joins a cosplay team in order to go to NYC to find her birth mom), but the execution of the story was awesome. I loved all the characters, they were all so endearing and well-developed. Jess’ internal thoughts and worries were so accurate and insightful that it was like speaking to many of the kids dealing with foster care/trauma/mental illness that I have worked with (former child therapist here). The auth I. Loved. This. Book. I was sold on the description alone (a goth girl in foster care who joins a cosplay team in order to go to NYC to find her birth mom), but the execution of the story was awesome. I loved all the characters, they were all so endearing and well-developed. Jess’ internal thoughts and worries were so accurate and insightful that it was like speaking to many of the kids dealing with foster care/trauma/mental illness that I have worked with (former child therapist here). The author handled mental illness in such a thoughtful, compassionate way. Not only was I smiling like a goober while I read this book, but I was so happy that a story like this is out there for kids to read and feel understood, or gain understanding of what others experience. Also, the geekery was so fun!!

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