cover image Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe

Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe

Lindsay S. Zrull. Flux, $14.99 paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-63583-078-1

Zrull’s debut vulnerably and empathetically celebrates geekdom and connection featuring a goth queen teen who uses her image as a shield against the world. Sixteen-year-old white Jess, who entered foster care when she was seven after her biological mother was institutionalized for schizophrenia, now lives in Detroit with new foster mother Barbra. Her prickly nature doesn’t stop geeky Mexican American Oscar, who has an anxiety disorder, from recruiting Jess and her exemplary makeup and sewing skills to help his cosplay team prepare for the World Cosplay Expo. Initially reluctant, Jess agrees to help when she learns that the expo is in N.Y.C., where her biomom is purported to live. Primarily hoping to reunite with her biomom, Jess is nevertheless surprised to realize she enjoys cosplaying with her new friends, including queer Asian coder Emily and Black gamer Gerrit, while slowly falling for Oscar. Zrull sensitively depicts complex topics such as mental illness, body positivity, and foster care via a confident, good-humored protagonist and a fully realized cast. Jess’s joyful cosplaying exploration inspires, and her willingness to open up to those who care for her is thoroughly uplifting. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jon Cobb, HG Literary. (July)