There is such a thing as a cuteness overload, and it’s definitely here with this book. I’m pretty sure I’ve gushed and squeed for a majority of the book to a friend who’s read this before. I’m probably not done doing so either.
Do we need another Cinderella retelling? Probably not. But did I love this one? YOU BETTER FRAKKING BELIEVE I DID.
by Ashley Poston
Quirk Books, May 2018
YA contemporary, romance
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies
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. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.
Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the 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.
I’ve had a copy of this and an ARC of Princess and the Fangirl for over a year now, and I know, I’m a little late to the party, but better now than never, right?
And oh boy, what a way to end my reading for the year. (And to commemorate, I decided to yoink the idea of a fun picture collage and make one for this review!)
Geekerella is essentially a love letter to fandom. Reading it pretty much took me back into days where I’d first started attending conventions. Funnily enough, ExcelsiCon’s location in the book was Atlanta, and my first con ever happened to be DragonCon in Atlanta. I saved hard for those tickets, and I went down there to not only experience the sheer expression of fandom (and look at the gorgeous costumes, holy hell Batman!), but to follow a teeny dream (which, if my short stories have been any indication, sort of came true).
Elle is a peach. Or a pumpkin. Or whathaveyou. It was easy to root for her because honestly I related to her. It’s hard not to when you yourself are a fangirl, and it didn’t take me long to realize that yes, I am. Elle is the epitome of a fangirl; she geeks out to all sorts of SFF pop culture references, she posts regularly in her blog for a niche community, and she writes fanfiction. She does this even with the obstacles she faces at home. Starfield–a fictitious science fiction TV series with the following of something akin to Firefly and an inclusive storyline that is Star Trek-y–is her means of escape, and after her father’s death, she is often “looking to the stars.” ExcelsiCon is her ticket out of her stepmother situation, and she aims toward it.
And boy, that stepmother of hers is a piece of work. (Every time she screams “Danielle!” though, I just think of Anjelica Huston and now I want to rewatch Ever After for the umpteenth time.)
It was also fairly easy to fall in love with Dare’s narrative voice. Darien Freeman is a unicorn among the acting world. Well, no, okay, if Henry Cavill and Felicia Day have taught me one thing, it’s that there are actors out there who are major geeks. But there aren’t many, and Dare is solely misunderstood. Through Elle’s–and most of the public’s–perspective, Dare is a vapid actor who could very well ruin the Starfield movie remake, especially given his fan following. Fresh off of his soap opera stint as some teenage heartthrob with abs of steel, he becomes misunderstood and most of the die-hard Starfield fans question his casting.
Turns out, though, that Dare is just as nerdy as they come. Unfortunately, his nerdiness does not help his “Darien Freeman” brand, and most of that gets pushed to the side even as he is taking on the role of Federation Prince Carmindor. (Also, twist my arm, Ashley Poston, but how can you not love a tall dark handsome with a killer bod and a tendency to squee over Nathan Fillion?!)
(I would squee over Nathan Fillion.)
Up until, of course, Dare stumbles onto Elle through text. And the two start exchanging messages like the fangirl and fanboy that they are.
It was easy to ship the two main characters. Their entire exchange throughout the book is too adorable for words. The texts at first are a bit awkward and stilted, but at some point, as the two characters continue to develop, they find that they start falling for each other. If Cinderella lived in the modern world, I imagine she’d be doing the same thing, and clearly enough, she is. And she’s a self-rescuing princess, to boot.
“You’re Amara. And you know why? Because you’ve taken a crappy subplot and managed to live through it, and you are selfless and you’re brave.”
Like, seriously. How can you not feel for these characters?
This is Amara. The true Amara. The one Carmindor fell in love with. The one he would have looked back at two seconds earlier. She makes me remember why I fell in love with Starfield, the hypothesis that in every universe, in every world, there is a Carmindor and an Amara.
In any universe, in any world, as anyone–we are them. They are us.
And I will admit that I cried. Not so much because of the romance–though that did make me tear up as well–but because of how much love Poston has for the fandom community. It shows in the writing, and it shows in how she writes fans. There are parts in the book where things get scary for Dare where it involves his publicity, and there is an ugly side to fandom that gets touched on here. But Poston shows the beautiful sides, too, and mostly, she says everything one would need to say amidst a gathering of SFF fans:
“We’re all geeks here.”
5 out of 5 cookies! Regardless of whether you like any of the science fiction shows or games mentioned in the book, I’d recommend Geekerella solely for its treatment of fandom in general. Also, that episode screenplay at the end is precious.