Calling all fangirls and fanboys! If you’ve ever cried over a fictional character’s death or the cancellation of a TV show (or the writing of a TV show when it veers so off course you wallow in deep bitterness), if you’ve ever attended a con or a midnight showing, if you’ve cosplayed or wrote fanfiction (or thought about writing fanfiction), if you consider yourself a fangirl or fanboy, Geekerella by Ashley Poston is for you.
Elle grew up watching the classic science-fiction TV show, Starfield, with her father, but she isn’t too happy with the announcement of a reboot blockbuster movie starring just another dumb heartthrob. But when a cosplay contest is announced with the opportunity to meet the new actor playing her favorite character and the chance to attend the premiere of the movie, Elle knows she has to enter. Darien is a closet Starfield fan, but he’s forced to hide his inner fanboy in front of the cameras. When an accidental text message connects him to a fellow Starfield fan, someone he feels he can be his true self around, he begins to wonder if all he is doing is truly worth sacrificing what he loves most in life.
There is so much I can say about this book. So much. This isn’t just a modern retelling of Cinderella. This is a love letter to fandom, to all the fangirls and fanboys out there who have spent way too many hours writing fanfiction or creating amazing cosplay outfits. For the people who attend cons or midnight movie releases. For the people who love a story so much it has become a part of who they are.
Geekerella captures the fandom life in a way I’ve never read before. Sure, there are plenty of books that include cute fandom references, but this book leaks fandom magic. The story itself follows the Cinderella blueprint well, but it also brings something more to it.
It brings more depth to the characters. It brings more meaning to the story. It opens up that “what if” possibility. What if the movie star cast in a reboot of your favorite sci-fi TV show is actually a closet fan? What if the person you met online happens to be this movie star? What if winning a cosplay contest can make all your dreams come true?
I love the elements of the story and the characters. Elle (shot for Danielle, which was sweet relief) was so relatable it hurt. Elle wasn’t just another character I met between the pages. Elle was me. Is me. I understood her obsession with Starfield and how it connected to her father. I am grateful my dad is still alive and that I still have the chance to share in fandoms with him. He introduced me to Star Trek and Star Wars, to Firefly and Doctor Who, to Lord of the Rings and even Narnia. And the connection Elle has with her father because of fandom is so familiar. Sure, I’ve branched off into other fandoms and there are plenty of movies and shows my dad watches that I have zero interest in, but for my “main” fandoms, I always have that underlying knowledge that he is the reason I am a fangirl today. And that relationship is clearly shown with Elle and her father.
I also like that the “magic pumpkin” was a stinky food truck. That the “ball” was a Con Masquerade. That the dress and the glass slippers and everything was so perfectly written and explained. Sure, the romance over text messages without knowing the person in real life was a bit of a stretch, but for the sake of story, for the sake of daydreaming the impossible, I’ll take it. A fangirl is allowed to dream, after all.
Then there’s Darien. I loved Darien. I loved the idea that he wasn’t “just another” movie star that was doing a movie to make it big. To show off and gain popularity. There was a heart to him. A deep lonely longing for something more, that I too understood despite not being famous in any regard. He just wants to enjoy what he loves, which happens to be a retro sci-fi show. Can’t blame him for that? (Darien’s part of the story makes me believe that despite the feminine cover and the title of this book, boys could enjoy Geekerella too.)
The other characters were amazing too. Sage with her green hair and wonderfulness. She was the perfect decoy for the fairy godmother, and I freaking loved her. And Cal and Chloe and Catherine were the perfect example of the not-so-evil-just-kind-of-selfish-and-dumb stepmother and stepsisters. (And I also like that they didn’t stay in that cookie cutter. There were surprises.) I loved Darien’s bodyguard Lonny. He was perfect and wonderful and deserves more love. (Who wants to start a Lonny fan club with me?)
Geekerella may seem like a simple story at first. A modern retelling of Cinderella with fandom thrown in. But actually reading the book is so much more. As a self-proclaimed fangirl who lives and breathes fandom-y stuff, this book spoke to me. It wasn’t just another book to read to pass time or to check off a list or to entertain me. It was a gentle tapping at my heart, reminding me that it’s okay to love the things I do, it’s okay to be excited about the next blockbuster superhero film or the latest episode of a TV show. It’s okay to love books (and hoard them, to a point), and it’s okay to attend cons and dress in cosplay and overall, have fun with what I love. This book reminds me, most importantly, that I am not alone in this mindset. That I am not alone in my love for stories.
This book reminds me to always look to the stars, aim, and ignite.