Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe
Author: Lindsay S Zrull
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publishing Date: July 19, 2022
About the Book
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.
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.
Oh my goodness! From the moment I started reading this book, I knew I had found a hurt but special soul in Jess. Bounced around to countless foster homes, she’s developed a system and set of rules. These rules help her survive not only in new homes but new schools. She knows foster families and fellow students have prejudices and expectations, and a foster never tends to meet those.
Then Jess met Oscar, and even though at first he seemed judgey and, honestly, nerdy, compared to Jess’s goth, you could tell the two were going to become fast friends. As their friend group grew and they started heading to cons, I found myself immersed in their costumes. They were so intricately described that I could picture the 4 teens as they stood in front of others showing off their hard work.
I think it would be easy to get upset with Jess for some of the things she thinks or does. Sometimes I felt she was being unfair to her foster mother, Barbra. But then I look at how Jess’s life has unfolded, how much she craves stability, and how she’s had to build armor and walls, and over time, they have grown incredibly thick. It’s hard to undo those things; it takes time. So when I look at her situation, it’s easy to be patient with her because she’s learning.
I absolutely loved the representation in this. It’s inclusive, has body styles of all sizes, and the mental health rep is perfect. As a PTSD sufferer, who also has a lifetime of panic, I’m drawn to realistic portrayals of mental health. Zrull knocked that out of the park.
I want to take this group of friends and hug them all tight. This is such a super fun book. I recommend it for YA fans who need a book to hug and never let go of.
“The world wants us to be ashamed of ourselves for not being perfect. But I don’t believe anyone is perfect. We all walk around with secrets.”
“These are borders of madness and state. Both of us are made orphans by walls.”
“It’s hard, getting people to believe in an invisible illness. If they can’t see it or feel it, they can’t really grasp how paralyzing it is.”
“I feel the stares and the judgements of people who think I’m not worth listening to or taking seriously. I am suffocated in my own helplessness.”
“If I could close my eyes and exist inside the wind forever, I would. I’d dissolve into nature and never need to make another difficult decision again…”
“How can you battle a monster you can’t see?”
I cannot recommend this book enough. Check out the full tour schedule to see the other stops on this blog tour.