by Ashley Poston
Kindle edition, 320 pages
Published April 4th 2017 by Quirk Books
Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale.
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. 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 received this book in exchange for honest review from Netgalley.
I was so excited to read this one! All the 5 stars reviews I see on my dashboard every single day, all the praises and quotes about this book… I guess the hype just got me for this one, increasing my expectations to the roof, to the point of no return. I bet you guys know the gist of Cinderella, so I’ll just go straight to the review.
I really like the twist the author used in the book, using the central and familiar element in the cinderella story to the contemporary and new, yet still familiar for us to draw the line. For example, the magic pumpkin carriage? The pumpkin food truck. The fairy godmother? Sage wears a lot of tutu. And so on. I really like seeing the modern setting and fairytale elements merge together in this book.
Another thing I like is the side characters. I’d love to know more about Sage, Cal, and Lonny (Is it really his real name? Or is it a code-name??). They seem to be interesting you know? Also, even though this is minor points and not much related to the main plot, I really like the lesbian couple here! Totally unpredictable, which is why I need more details about them. Will they work out? How would they overcome the obstacle? And despite everything, whether in original Cinderella and the retellings, I always wanted to know why the step-family hated her that much.
Despite my positive points above, the negative overwhelms the positive. I couldn’t connect to the characters, nor get into the story for the first 48%. That’s a long time to finally get into a story. This book seemed to rely heavily on the romance and characters (since the plot is a retelling), but failed to deliver both.
The characters are very underdeveloped. Even the side characters, no matter how interesting, they are still underdeveloped. Everyone is like the cardboard cut-out or caricatures from the original story. The step-family are just evil. Sage is just a helpful friend. Darien is this star trapped in his life. And Elle is just a nice girl trapped with horrendous family. The least the author could do is add another depth to the characters. And I mean beside Starfield. Who are Elle and Darien outside of the role the retellings assigned to them and beside their love of Starfield? What is Catherine background that she hated Elle so much? The characters are just there to serve their roles without any depth.
I can’t feel the romance or the pull between Elle and Darien. While I believe you can fall in love through messages, the only thing they talked about are Starfield. They don’t talk about them, or their lives, or their other interest. How can you fall in love with someone only because they are in the same fandom with you? Having the same fandom is only a part of who they are, they are more than the fandom. I need more time and development for this romance to become believeable for me.
While I love the fandom references throughout the book, ultimately Starfield is the core of the book. And while I love being included and being part of the fandom culture in the book, sometimes it become too much. Like I said, there’s nothing more to the characters and romance beside Starfield. It just doesn’t feel real to me.
GEEKERELLA is a unique retelling of Cinderella, with imaginative twist on the familiar elements. But it fails to deliver on the other aspect for me: underdeveloped characters and romance and too wrapped up in Starfield to feel real for me. While ending the book on a good note (I love what happened to Chloe in the end), ultimately the time I spent struggling to get into the story take away my enjoyment of the book.