I’m surprised I enjoyed this as much as I did.
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. (Goodreads)
This was a delightful YA contemporary romance novel inspired by the Cinderella fairy tale. I was influenced by the hype surrounding the story shortly after it was published. Everyone said it was great. Back then, I avoided reading it because YA romance isn’t my thing, but since I started this year with a taste for romance, I decided to give it a try.
It surprised me. I had a basic idea of what the story is about but didn’t know what to expect. I can’t say I was immediately hooked, but the story grew on me as it progressed. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the main fandom in the story is based on Star Wars, but since I’m not a fan of Star Wars and don’t know much about it, I didn’t get the appeal of Starfield or understand some of the references to Star Wars. But that didn’t damper my enjoyment of the story. And though I don’t engage fully in fandoms by attending conventions and such, I could understand the characters’ excitement and love for their fandom.
Fandom is a new thing for me. I learned about the existence of fandoms when I started blogging but never fully immersed myself in any, even the Harry Potter one that I love. I just don’t know where to start. I do love the camaraderie of fandoms and the opportunity to connect with others who love a thing as much as I do and would love to attend a convention one day to see and partake of an event with people who share my joy and appreciation for creations I love.
Anyway, back to the story. I read the story for the plot: to see how issues will be resolved and how events will progress. I didn’t care much for the characters at first, but I empathized with them at moments when they hit low points, and I appreciate that Poston was able to endear them to me the more I read. Much of the supporting characters and antagonists didn’t have much depth, but I didn’t mind that. I read this purely for the delight and fun of it, which I think it did well.
But what I love the most are the bits of the story that are obviously drawn from the fairy tale but given a modern twist, such as the cosplay ball and costumes, the food truck called the Magic Pumpkin (I really loved that), and even Elle having to leave the ball at midnight. I love that other fandoms readers may be familiar with are mentioned to really ground us in the time the story is set in and make the story seem plausible. I also love the convention/ball parts where Elle observes cosplayed creatures/characters dancing with each other. That was funny.
And that’s what made this such an enjoyable read: It’s funny. Not laugh-out-loud funny, but there is a lightness to the story that sometimes cause a chuckle to bubble up. It made the book a joy to read and made me progress through it quickly.
The only major drawbacks I had were Elle and Darien not standing up for themselves to their parents. I understand why and I probably would have done the same in their situation, but I was annoyed by it. I kept wanting them to refuse to do as they’re told just to see what would/might happen. I also think some things conveniently happened to help the plot along, which I didn’t like but at the same time didn’t mind because it adds to the fairy-tale elements of the story.
As I read, I noticed something odd about myself. I’m usually good at imagining a story in my head — the setting, characters, events, etc. But as I read this, I found it hard to imagine Darien, the male protagonist, as an Asian guy. He kept reverting to a White guy in my mind. I don’t know why this happened. Maybe the author didn’t supply enough descriptions of him, I thought, because it’s not clearly said he’s Asian until much later in the book. Until then, I just inferred that he is from other references, such as his brown skin and that the original actor for Darien’s role is Asian and Elle was glad they didn’t whitewash that role. But I also began to think that it’s probably because I’m so used White characters leading stories I read that it’s become difficult to imagine a character of a different race as the protagonist unless I’m supplied with several specific descriptions of the character. I don’t know what caused this, but I struggled with imagining Darien’s character until the end. Even now I still can’t get a handle on his looks.
Overall: ★★☆☆☆ 1/2
It was decent. I liked it and enjoyed reading it and can see why the story is so popular.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
I say Borrow but if you are a huge fan of fairy tale retellings and love the Cinderella story, then this might be one you’d like to own.