Monday, January 16, 2017

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

From the publisher: Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first. Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again? Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

Galaxy Quest meets Cinderella in this delightful homage to fandoms and fans.  The author has done a fine and believable job of creating a fandom that doesn’t exist that can serve as any fandom that the reader loves. Darien and Elle take turns narrating, and I felt that they had distinct voices.  I enjoyed the personalities of many of the side characters as well. A neglected Dachshund adds comic relief and heart to the story.

On the diversity plus side, the story includes a teen same sex romance, and Darien is a person of color.  (In fact, much is made of the important role the original Carmindor played in breaking acting stereotypes for people of color, and what a relief it is that the actor playing the role in the reboot is also a person of color.)

Although Geekerella is about a fictional fandom, there are plenty of obvious and subtle references to real fandoms, of the kind that real fans actually make (like "Have fun storming the castle!"  and my favorite, "This day, we fight." 💗). I'm sure I didn't even get all of them, but I got enough.

Geekerella would probably have benefitted from being a little less faithful to the tale of Cinderella. Because it adheres so closely to the story for much of the book, the plot is predictable. The evil stepmother is just a little too evil. But there are plot twists, and I especially enjoyed the scene in which a desperate Elle tries to get ready to enter the cosplay contest with the help of many other con attendees.

This is a sweet story that might bring a smile and a sigh to anyone who has ever felt alone or like they didn't fit in, and it ends the way we want it to – happily ever after. Although it’s aimed at the young adult market, I highly recommend it for all geeks, nerds, dorks, and other fans of fandoms who’d enjoy a young love romance that is also a love letter to us all.

I read an advance reader copy of Geekerella. It will be available for checkout in April 2017.

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