Recommended for ages 12+
Comic book and superhero fan Mariam’s the new girl in school and feeling lonely until she meets Tya, who’s hardcore into the manga/anime fandom. The two bond over their mutual fandoms and love of cosplay and conventions, and plan to attend an otaku – anime and manga fandom – con together. All is well until Tya can’t go to the con because she has a family wedding to go to, leaving Mariam to go on her own. While she’s there, she meets up with a group of cosplayers from the same manga, who invite her to join their group. The leader of the group, Rick, seems to have a hard time keeping fantasy and reality straight, though, and starts getting way too familiar with Mariam, insisting that they play out their character’s romance. Can Mariam get away from Rick before things go too far?
If you’re a cosplay/convention fan, you’re doubtlessly familiar with the Cosplay is NOT Consent movement, a movement that exists because some con-goers said and acted inappropriately to their fellow fans. Creep Con is an interesting look at this situation, particularly as it takes place in the otaku fandom, where the costumes can get a little outrageous. There are some great references to both comics/superhero and otaku fandoms here, that teens will be familiar with and appreciate. The story brings the danger of cosplay being mistaken for consent home, and at the same time, reminds teens that they need to be honest and upfront with their parents and guardians – safety first.
I did find Mariam frustrating in that she let herself be ordered around by this guy she didn’t even know. She had two people she knew and wanted to become closer friends with at the con, but talked herself – several times – into listening to Rick, who left charming behind and went right into creepy early on in the book. I can see where it was an honest portrayal, particularly for a new girl who was trying to make friends, but I would have liked a stronger protagonist who wasn’t so easily manipulated.
This is one of Lorimer’s new novels for reluctant readers. The line is strong, covering current topics like cosplay and fandom; LGBT and abuse with their Side Streets line; sports; historical fiction, and true crime. Struggling and reluctant readers will appreciate the no frills storytelling that gets straight to the point and covers topics that meet their interests.