Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc and physical finished copy from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe

Author: Lindsay S. Zrull

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Foster care plus size vegetarian MC, Asian character, Black character, Mexican American anxiety disorder character, bipolar disorder character

Recommended For…: young adult readers, contemporary, plus size, foster care, cosplay contests

Publication Date: July 19, 2022

Genre: YA Contemporary

Age Relevance: 14+ (Bullying, Cursing, Schizophrenia, Sexual content, Parental Death, Fatphobia, Anxiety, Panic attack, Suicide, Bipolar, Deportation, Abelism, Racism, Romance)

Explanation of Above: There are mentions of schizophrenia, anxiety, and a very brief mention of bipolar and suicide. There is one scene with a panic attack, but it is quick. There is some bullying shown throughout the book. There is some cursing in the book. There are very brief mentions of sexual content in the form of kink and sex jokes, nothing explicit is shown. There is mention of a parental death and very brief mention of deportation. There is some fatphobia shown in the book and one instance of abelism. There is also one scene of  racism shown in the book. There is also some slight romance in the form of kisses.

Publisher: Flux Books

Pages: 341

Synopsis: 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.

Review: I really love this book! As someone who grew up with a mom who suffered from mental health issues, I really connected with the main character and her plight. I wasn’t ever in the foster care system, but I could relate to her struggles with her mother. It’s like constantly walking on eggshells and not knowing if your remarks or questions will set them off. It’s not knowing if they’ll come out of their room to make dinner or not. It’s being yelled at for things you didn’t do and having bread thrown at you because they didn’t like the way you folded the towels or they didn’t remember where they set their bible. It’s super hard and being in foster care or not you always feel the effects. I love how unashamed the book discussed mental health, because while there can be significant heartbreak in it, it’s not the end of the world for most and it’s something that can be helped a lot by medication. I really appreciated the ending, because I’m currently in the unknown with my own mother. I don’t know what the future looks like and I’m glad this book left it open as well. The character development was well done and I also really liked the world building. The story was well plotted and it developed very naturally throughout the book.

The only thing I thought the book could improve on was that the romance I thought could be a bit more pronounced (but that’s a personal preference) and I think the cover could have been better designed to fully illustrate the plus size heroine. She’s there and she’s plus size, but she hiding herself and in all her black apparel it’s hard to see that she’s plus size. I think it would be great for young people to see her better.

Verdict: I highly recommend this one for younger kids going through what I did and what this MC is.

Book Info:

Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe by Lindsay S Zrull

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Publishing Date: July 19, 2022

Synopsis:

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. 

Book Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58303798

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Goth-Queen-Universe-Lindsay-Zrull/dp/1635830788/

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/goth-girl-queen-of-the-universe-lindsay-s-zrull/1140880397

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Goth-Girl-Queen-Universe-Lindsay-S-Zrull/9781635830781

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781635830781

About the Author:

Lindsay S. Zrull is a former foster teen and current book nerd. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science and earned a second Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Harvard Extension. Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe is her first novel. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @LSZrull.

Author Links:

Website: https://www.lindsayzrull.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LSZrull

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lszrull/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21580305.Lindsay_S_Zrull

Tour Schedule:https://tbrandbeyondtours.com/2022/05/19/tour-schedule-goth-girl-queen-of-the-universe-by-lindsay-s-zrull/