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on 20 January 2011
In the Hollywood world, you rarely hear about failure stories. Everyone is very careful to project an image of success, even if they're wallowing in a deep depression. In that sense, reading this book is invaluable. It takes courage to break through the mold of what everyone around you is doing.

"Just a Geek" is a memoir that chronicles actor Wil Wheaton's uneasy relationship to Star Trek (easily the project he's most famous for, together with the movie Stand By Me), his decisions as a teenager that influenced the course of his life, and how it really feels like to be an actor in Hollywood (apparently it sucks). But it's really much more than that. It's about making a big decision in your life and being haunted by the ghost of Proving to Everyone It Was the Right Decision. How badly would it suck to feel that the most professionally successful days of your life were when you were a teenager, too immature and stubborn to appreciate it? How do you deal with that once you finally become a (pretty cool) adult and find that no one wants to give you a job?

The only gripe I have about this book is that, in my opinion, he wrote it too soon. It was published in 2004, and when the book ends, it feels like the story is just starting. Since that year, he has achieved a lot of success. It would have felt more complete had he waited a bit beyond his late twenties to write this. Still, recommended for Star Trek / Wil Wheaton fans.
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on 14 January 2010
pretty much finished it in one sitting and believe that even if you arent a big star trek fan this would be interesting for you. this strips away the smoke and mirrors of hollywood and maneuveres around the realities of life.
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on 1 March 2006
You have to feel sorry for Wil Wheaton at times. Here is a guy that seems to have been blighted by early success and fame only to be shot down to the ranks of just another actor in a field of thousands. This book covers a period in his life when he is reflecting on past glories and tells us of the inner emotional turmoil that he feels whilst trying to support his family and improve his Hollywood career. You really feel his pain at times when he recalls the many set-backs and rejections that he has faced.
The thing that impresses me most about this book is Wil's style of writing. It is frank and open, it peels back the veneer of an actors ego and exposes what he feels on the inside and you cannot help but feel for him as a result.
This is an excellent book, and I'd recommend it to geeks and non-geeks alike.
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on 12 August 2015
I really enjoyed Just A Geek, as well as empathising with where Wil was back when it was written. The struggles struck a chord since I spent about ten years trying to get an agent or publisher. I was told my writing was good… but I never “passed the interview”, I was told it was “just not quite what the market wants”. “Too niche”. “Too gory”. “Too clever for your own good”. Anyway, his words really pulled me in. I’d also recently read Stephen King’s 'On Writing’ and saw similarities in the descriptions they both wrote about the struggles to support their families.

One of the lessons of this book is "don’t give in: aim high and continue to persist".

I’m also a geek and part was an easy sell to me. I have cupboards full of D&D manuals and Fighting Fantasy books. I learnt some basic on my C64 to make multiple-choice games as a teen. I love boardgames, from Talisman to Dixit, Cyclades to Jungle Speed. I had a WH40k stage of miniature painting. So it all fits.

In fact, the focus of my writing recently has been this very topic: super geeks. One book about a science geek, one about a music geek. Wil Wheaton's book kept recalling both. Set in the same time period (c.2000), about science-obsessed geeks trying to find happiness. Wil's references to The Smiths were a match to the scenes I was writing in my new book about a Manchester Music geek (my opening chapter is called ‘Strangeways Here I Come’ after the Smiths album). So many little things he wrote struck me as coincidences as I read and enjoyed Just A Geek, and it made me feel a close connection to the book.
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on 28 September 2014
Although I’m a fan of Star Trek, Wesley Crusher was definitely never my favourite character in ST:NG. The bridge of the Enterprise is no place for children (unless they are being suitably creepy, as in "And the Children Shall Lead" ST:TOS). But I believe I’m able to distinguish between the actor and the character, so I hold no grudge against Wil Wheaton, just his script writers. Even so I would not have thought to read his autobiography, as I rarely read books about real people: I mainly read about (science) fictional people, and about science, and about other geeky things.

However, I’ve noticed that Wheaton now does non-acting geeky things (mainly from items on John Scalzi’s Whatever blog). So when my other half got this book, I thought I’d have a look too.

It’s very good. Okay, it’s 10 years out of date (published in 2004), and I’m positive he’s done a lot else since, but what it does is provide the background to Wheaton’s then-new blog, Wil Wheaton dot Net (launched in 2001). The book blurb says how On his blog, Wil shared—with stunning and fearless honesty—his real life. The book says how, in fact, he didn’t, initially. It’s mainly a description of how he worked through being an actor no-one would hire, to a writer everyone was reading. In the book he is fearlessly honest (I assume), including being honest about how he was still in denial in his early blog posts.

Some of the insights into behind the scenes on ST:NG and at Trek conventions are fascinating. Ironically, the bits that work least well for me are the passages where he being writerly: writing about incidents from his childhood, because these are more autobiography than geeky. However, the parts where he is writing about how he transitioned from trying to be the person he thought he should be (an actor), to the person he actually wanted to be (a writer), and no longer being afraid of being thought a failure, are very thoughtful, and a great read too.
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on 3 January 2005
Whether you're a Star Trek TNG fan, a Stand By Me fan or simply a fan of the author himself, you owe it to yourself to buy this book. Wil's writing is deeply honest and self-deprecating. He's not afraid to show the reality of what it's like to be a struggling actor. Of having to make decisions that would mean the difference between the bills getting paid or losing his Star Trek credibility.
Ultimately, Just A Geek is a success story. It's about a man finding his place in world and allowing you to come along for the journey. I found myself laughing and crying in equal measure.
Thank you Wil.
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on 21 April 2016
The last several years I've been struggling with growing older, feeling like I've already achieved everything I could when I was a teenager and my life from here on gonna be spent with reminiscing about the few joyful years of my youth, when everyone - including me - though I'm gonna be the next big thing. Reading this book helped me put my life into perspective and gave me some peace, and with any luck, hope about the future. The stories are extremely relatable, the cheeky-geeky humor is spot on and the funny bits are nicely alternating with the tearjerker moments. A perfect read for a 30 something could-have-been like me during his first midlife crisis.
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on 14 March 2013
I come to this book as a former Star Trek fan of old; and more recently from having discovering Wil Wheatons obvious love for Dungeons and Dragons on You Tube. He makes any subject come alive with his deep enthusiasm and geekish humour. This is a book any gaming nerd or geek will simply adore.... I know I do :-)
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on 21 June 2015
Admittedly I wasn't expecting this to be as good as it is, curiosity got the better of me and I honestly love this book.
Wil's honesty & humour & ability to talk openly about the industry without any bitterness is brilliant.
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on 19 August 2012
As a next gen fan totally loved this book
I admired the brutal honesty of a man in a more mature time of life looking back and acknowledging his poor decisions in life as a youth
Really well written
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