Book Review: Just a Geek

geekThis book combines a few of my favorite things: raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. No. Wait, those are the song lyrics. Sorry. What I meant to say was: technology, a nonconformist, and Star Trek. There. My secret’s out. I’m a wee bit of a Trekkie. Bet you wish I was still talking about kitties, eh? But then again, you most likely won’t be interested in reading Just a Geek if you’re not a least somewhat interested in Star Trek. Fittingly, the struggle with Star Trek is a string that is threaded throughout this book.

Wil Wheaton played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Hot off the heels of the fame garnered by his starring in Stand by Me life was going pretty dang smoothly for our teenage protagonist. Then he did what every teenager does eventually: he screwed up. He wanted to distance himself from Star Trek and prove he had the acting chops to be taken as a serious movie star. So he left the show after four seasons. He then spent the next decade trying to prove to himself and the world that his quitting wasn’t an act of hubris. That’s where the technology part of our story comes in.

Wheaton worked for a computer company in Texas for a while. He was also one of the first honest-to-goodness ‘bloggers. He built his own Web Page, WilWheaton.Net, and continues to manage it. Unlike so many celebrities everything on the site is his doing. He keeps abreast of the latest technology trends, gets his hands dirty with them, and opines on them. In short, he’s just a geek.

Aside from the ever improving bells and whistles on the site, his ‘blog attracted oodles of viewers. The subject a lot of his blog entries is, well, himself. He is of a rare breed. That of a “working class actor”. He never got his big break and the book uses blog entries to take you inside his head during the tumultuous years following his quitting Star Trek. We learn that he is both like us and not like us. Like us, he cares what people think and yet unlike us, a lot of people let him know what they think of him. So he has to deal with all those “You Suck Wesley” trolls and those “OMG you’re my hero, Wil” worshipers. He does so with marvelous aplomb.

He eventually comes to terms with the tough decision his teenage self made and somehow remains true to himself. While publicly sharing all the ups and downs of his life he has mastered such diverse skills as navigating Trek Conventions and the seemingly simple how to use Twitter without coming off as vapid or haughty. If you’re interesting in treading on the space between the common man and the celebrity, Just a Geek builds that bridge for you.

Here’s the link to the Minuteman Library Network holdings.

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