Fangirl meets Paper Towns in this wild and ridiculous geek-heaven contemporary adventure from award-winning author Brian Katcher. Clever, humorous writing and relatable characters make this contemporary YA novel a strong page-turner.
The reader gets a strong sense of the 2 protagonists from the very beginning. Ana is very much like Hermoine - following all the rules, leading her peers in academic pursuits, and stuck in a rut as far as personal development until she decides to break some of her own rules. Zak Duquette, or ""Duke"" as everyone fondly calls him, is the ultimate slacker who lives for the annual science fiction and fantasy convention in Seattle. Zak makes a deal with the Quiz Team teacher advisor to join them in a tournament in order to pass his health class, meaning he must miss out on his beloved convention. When Ana's little brother, the Quiz Team prodigy Clayton, sneaks out of the hotel to attend the convention, Ana and Zak are off on a hilarious and dangerous quest to recover the missing 13 year-old boy.
What I loved: While the character development was somewhat predictable, I still really enjoyed it. Ana become less of a stickler for the rules and embraced her strong side, standing up for herself and her needs. Zak realized that while he'll probably always be a slacker, he should be nicer to people and learn to embrace the changes happening to his family instead of letting them always get him down. Even Clayton undergoes a lot of changes, and his is the most honest and heartwarming character development.
While some aspects of the convention shenanigans, such as a drug dealer with a gun and a grudge-holding barbarian, got a little out of control and unbelievable, I think that teen geeks the world over will have no problem suspending their disbelief.
Highly recommended for otaku, geeks, and convention-goers of any age. ANA & ZAK will enthrall the nerdiest of quiz bowl captains and the most obsessive of video game players.