Inside cover of Geek Love
book reviews

Geek Love

Katherine Dunn

Geek Love is a book I had to read for an English class I was taking in which the theme was the circus. It was freshman year of college and I had no idea what to expect. I mean, the circus?! Really?? But it ended up being one of my favorite classes — it was quirky and interesting and different, and it introduced me to Geek Love, a book I would have never read had it not been for that class. Though I spent a good part of the semester talking about it in class, Geek Love is one of those books that I struggle to even find words for. It is not often that I find myself at a loss for words when it comes to books, but here I am, struggling to articulate exactly how I feel about this novel.

The novel is disturbing, to say the least, in both a gruesome and in a mind-bending kind of way. I couldn’t even think of where to begin with writing a little synopsis, so this is what Goodreads has to say about it:

As the Binewskis take their act across the backwaters of the U.S., inspiring fanatical devotion and murderous revulsion; as its members conduct their own Machiavellian version of sibling rivalry, Geek Love throws its sulfurous light on our notions of the freakish and the normal, the beautiful and the ugly, the holy and the obscene. Family values will never be the same.”

Sound interesting? It is! Though I would say this book is not for the faint of heart, it is a mystery wrapped up in the drama and dark going-on’s of an abnormal circus family, and will most definitely hold your attention. There are two different time periods that are interwoven throughout the story and it isn’t until the end that the connections and events of both times become completely clear, which is mildly confusing, though not impossible to understand.

If there is one thing about Geek Love that I can really rave about, it is the murky and twisted characters, all who I found less than likable, though that is what I felt made them all the more interesting. In all honesty, if you don’t love this book for all its weirdness then you will probably land on the other end of the spectrum and absolutely hate the novel. I’m sorry, but I don’t think there is an in-between. Had I not had to read this for class, I probably would not have finished it, and if it weren’t for facilitated discussions, I probably would not have understood the deeper themes and would not have appreciated the book on a more literary level.

But if weird and freaky appeals to you, you might enjoy reading Geek Love. It is most definitely not a light and fun read. In fact, it will probably have your nose crinkling in disgust at times, and might keep you up and night, but if words have the power to affect you that much then they are doing their intended purpose and you can’t hate the writing for that. So I guess I found a few things to say about Geek Love, though I feel like I just rambled through this post in a daze (kind of like how I read the book). If you want a book that is unlike anything else you have probably read, pick up Geek Love!

I give Geek Love four stars. Not necessarily because I loved it, but because it held my attention and there are scenes from the novel that will forever be seared into my mind. I think the audience for Geek Love is very niche. Fans of science fiction or of horror may enjoy this book (or at least find it interesting), though any reader who wants to break out of their comfort zone with a freakish new read may want to give Geek Love a read as well.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Have you read Geek Love? Tell me what you thought about it in the comments!

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