Title: Just a Geek: Unflinchingly honest tales of the search for life, love, and fulfillment beyond the Starship Enterprise
Author: Wil Wheaton
Release Date: June 2004
Publisher: O’Reilly Media
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Audiobook
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
In this memoir, Wil Wheaton, an actor who found success early in life with the hit film Stand By Me and the TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation, reflects on his life as an adult actor, and his struggles to be accepted by his peers.
I was a huge fan of the show Star Trek: The Next Generation, and when I discovered a few years ago that Wil Wheaton (who portrayed Wesley Crusher on the show) had a huge online presence, I was really excited. I quickly became an avid reader of his blog and was impressed with his writing skills. I knew that I wanted to read his autobiography, Just a Geek, and though it took me awhile, I’m so glad I gave it a chance, and that chose to listen to it on audio rather than read the print version.
In Just a Geek, Wil is unflinchingly honest with the reader about his life. He relates the reasons he chose to leave Star Trek: The Next Generation and admits he has spent much of his time since then trying to prove that the decision wasn’t a mistake. In fact, he gives that compulsion a name (“Proof to Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t a Mistake,” shortened to “Proof to Everyone”) and it acts as a character in his narrative. He demonstrates how much of what he did and said was driven by this horrible drive to show those around him how happy and successful he was, when in reality he was depressed and regretted his decision.
The turning point came when Wil started his website/blog. He learned all the coding himself and built it from the ground up, so it really was his own, something he could be proud of. He started interacting with fans on a daily basis. In Just a Geek, he reads various blog entries, and then deconstructs them for the reader/listener. He shows how Proof to Everyone was in charge of his blog posts for awhile, and it took some time for the real, honest Wil to come through.
I absolutely loved Wil’s straightforwardness and honesty through the book. Though I own the print version of Just a Geek, I haven’t really looked through it, so I can’t speak to how well his candor comes across in book form. In audio, though, he was simply amazing. First of all, Wil is a talented voice actor. Since this is his memoir, he is relating events from his life, feelings and frustrations he’s had – the reader gets every bit of this emotion through his voice. At the same time, he’s incredibly funny. The audio version has extra commentary, and I really enjoyed this inside look. The entire book seems like a conversation with Wil, rather than a recorded book.
There wasn’t a single part of this book I didn’t like. I loved the behind the scenes with Star Trek: The Next Generation actors, I found the daily struggles of an actor to be horrifying, yet fascinating, and I really appreciated Wil’s honesty and his emotional journey as he comes to accept Star Trek’s place in his life. The audio version runs around 9 hours, and it never once lost my interest. If you’re interested in purchasing the audio version rather than the print, Wil sells it himself through LuLu.com. I can’t recommend this audiobook highly enough. Wil is a talented narrator, and I will definitely be checking out his other audio works.