So Yesterday - Scott Westerfeld
Another piece of worldcon booty. In reality, I should have bought it ages ago, as it's available out here, and has been for ages.
Hunter is a Cool Hunter; his job is to go out, sus out what the next cool thing will be, and the big companies out there pay him for it. This is a legitimate job, just in case you were wondering.
He meets Jen, a rather awesome girl, takes her to a cool tasting, and after finding his boss's phone (but not his boss) in an empty warehouse along with some hot shoes, thing start getting interesting.
Jen and Hunter make a good team, with a great dynamic that is easy to get caught up in. Suprisingly, for a story about cool, what really hooked me in was how very geeky it was. All the fiddling with features on phones, wifi, wizz computers - it made me giggle. Nerds will always be considered nerds, but the territory is slipping more and more to the front, rather than the back, of fashion.
That said, the geekery didn't stop at the technology. While there is nothing geeky about Jen, Hunter smacks of nothing but geek. It isn't the trappings of his life, but the person he is. It's part of being a cool hunter, I suppose. A watcher, an observer, at the edge, not the centre. That slight rumpling around the edges which means he'll never quite fit in properly, because he's not that comfortable in his own skin.
I'm inclined to think that is the only prerequist for 'cool'. Being comfortable in your head.
This is a great fun book - you know how I'm a sucker for fun - and surprisingly touching at the same time. Image, fashion, style; they're all a big deal these days, and with the amount of money involved, it's a big corporate industry and a big deal of superficialness, if you let it be. While Jen and Hunter are running around playing at being private eye (which is where the fun is) there's a thoughtful look at what trends and images, our images, can mean. This book could have been shallow, and it isn't. It's honest. We all tailor our images; clothes, speech, music, how we laugh. It's about what we try to show, how much we really show, how much control we let others have over what we show, and perhaps most importantly, what we don't show. There is a lot that Hunter thinks he doesn't show, the key word there being 'thinks'.
...and as a slight tangent: it is great to see a mystery/crime book understand the incredible phenomenon that is the mobile phone, and pump it for all it is worth. Yes! Score many many points!
Verdict: This is a great book. It's fun, engaging, warm, and will make you think. And if you use the 'young adult' tag as a reason to pass this book over, you're an idiot. And a dweeb. And totally not cool.