It’s amazing what can happen when you walk in someone else’s shoes. Especially when that someone is the superhero Gargantua who has the power to grow and shrink depending on her emotional state: equal parts Hulk and Ms. Marvel.

This is what happens to Edan Kupferman in Cecil Castellucci’s young adult novel, Don’t Cosplay with My Heart. When Edan dons Gargantua’s mask she finds herself embodying the characteristics of Gargantua. She’s tough, she’s loud, she takes up space in a room. All of these are much needed when it feels like the world is falling apart around her. It’s summer, a time of hanging out at the beach, taking family vacations, and relaxing. But not any longer. Edan’s dad has been pulled from the family, sequestered while he awaits trial for embezzling, and the family goes into a tailspin. With her best friend out of the country for the summer, her father out of a job and gone, and her mother suffering from what looks like a nervous breakdown, Edan finds only one place to turn to for comfort. Her beloved Gargantua from Team Tomorrow.

When Edan discovers the world of cosplay, she finds a whole new side of herself and a way to escape the hardships at home. Taking on another persona allows Edan to discover more about herself and helps her build a community of like-minded nerds at her school. Soon she finds herself canoodling with her longtime crush, building her sewing skills, and making lots of new friends. But her home life is still in shambles, and when a rumor at school threatens her club and her community, Edan’s new found bravery is put to the test.

Don’t Cosplay with My Heart is a great book for younger teens. While Edan’s tough home life and conflict with friends will be relatable to many readers, the writing level and character development isn’t as complex as what older readers may be looking for. I really enjoyed seeing Edan discover the rich world of cosplay and comic conventions, and it warmed my nerdy little heart to see the community that she was able to build at her school. While I appreciated Castellucci addressing some big issues that women face in cosplaying (i.e. sexism, “fake” nerds, cosplay not equalling consent), some of the sections seemed a bit heavy-handed. I found myself wishing that the bad guys were more fleshed out and weren’t so one dimensional.

One of my favorite parts of the story were the bits about the history of Gargantua and Team Tomorrow interspersed throughout the chapters. It was a great peek at the history of women in comics and a nice parallel to Edan’s story. In these sections, the reader learned about the creators of Team Tomorrow, the evolution of Gargantua’s costume over the years, and the history of Team Tomorrow. All of which gave insight into why these superheroes meant so much to Edan.

In Don’t Cosplay with My Heart, Edan gets to learn how to be her own self-rescuing princess. Her story would be appealing to tween and teen nerds and readers of Drama by Raina Telegemeir, Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson, or Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

Don’t Cosplay with My Heart
by Cecil Castellucci
ISBN: 9781338125498
Scholastic Press, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: 12-17

  • Naomi Hurtienne Magola

    Past Reviewer

    Naomi Hurtienne Magola is the Youth Services Librarian for Terrebonne Parish Library in Houma, LA. She grew up on a steady diet of the Sunday funnies, and Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes books. While working at a bookstore in college she was turned on to single issue comic books when she was introduced to Preacher and Transmetropolitan. A librarian for ten years, she is excited that she has the opportunity to help build a fandom community in her parish by hosting successful Comic Cons at her library. She is in the midst of planning the next Terrebonne Comic Con in September (she will be cosplaying as the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl) and its spinoff program, the Terrebonne Games Expo, in the summer. When not at work you can find her playing board games with her husband and daughter, watching Game of Thrones, or reading with her cats. Her current favorite comics titles are: Lumberjanes, Ms. Marvel, and the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.

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