Sunday 26 January 2020
Book Review: Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Geekerella is about an orphaned girl, living with her stepmother and stepsisters, who is badly treated by them (what do you mean, you guessed that from the title?). One of the few things she has left in her life which she really finds comfort in is the classic sci-fi series Starfield, which she loved watching with her father. So when teen heartthrob Darien Freeman is cast as lead character Carmindor in the new movie of the show, she's incensed, and doesn't hold back from saying so on her blog. Despite this, after finding her parents' old Starfleet costumes, she becomes desperate to win the cosplay contest at a convention her dad helped found to make her parents proud. Meanwhile, she answers a message Darien sends to her dad's e-mail address without knowing who he is, and the pair strike up an unlikely friendship via texts.
I've seen lots of people talking about this one and bought it a while ago on ebook but somehow hadn't got around to reading it - what a mistake! The central pair here are super cute characters who I adored - shy superfan Elle, desperately trying to deal with an awful family situation and still missing the father she was so close to, is an instantly likeable character, while Darien is impressively well-written as a massive Starfleet fan in his own right who's both nervous about taking over a role from an actor he deeply admires, and sad that he's forced to hide his love for the series because it doesn't fit into the image his father, who manages his career, wants for him. On the one hand, both Darien's father and Elle's stepmother are fairly horrible characters; on the other hand once I reached the end of the book it was clear why they were acting the way they did, with Elle's stepmother getting more of a reason for her behaviour than I've generally seen in many Cinderella retellings I've read. Elle's friend Sage, on the other hand, is a completely delightful character - a green-haired punkish lesbian co-worker of Elle's who reveals herself to be a fashion goddess and steps in, along with her mother, to help Elle get to the con. The Instagram-obsessed stepsisters follow the fairly familiar route in Cinders retellings of one being horrendous and the other one significantly less so, with the latter being a really interesting character.
I loved the themes in this book of found family, of not judging people from what you think you know about them, of friendships new, old, and broken, and most of all of the intense love and support found in fandom. As you'd expect from a retelling of the fairy tale, matters build to a head at a ball, and this, along with the cosplay contest itself, are two wonderful scenes which I really loved. Overall, this is a very strong recommendation, and sequel The Princess And The Fangirl, which focuses on Darien's co-star Jess and a girl she falls for, is probably going to be one of my next reads.
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