Author: Danika Stone
Published: Expected June 7th, 2016
Source: Galley via Publisher
Rating: 1.5 out of 5
College freshman Liv is more than just a fangirl: The Starveil movies are her life… So, when her favorite character, Captain Matt Spartan, is killed off at the end of the last movie, Liv Just. Can’t. Deal.
Tired of sitting in her room sobbing, Liv decides to launch an online campaign to bring her beloved hero back to life. With the help of her best friend, Xander, actor and steampunk cosplayer extraordinaire, she creates #SpartanSurvived, a campaign to ignite the fandom. But as her online life succeeds beyond her wildest dreams, Liv is forced to balance that with the pressures of school, her mother’s disapproval, and her (mostly nonexistent and entirely traumatic) romantic life. A trip to DragonCon with Xander might be exactly what she needs to figure out what she really wants.
My dad's a huge sci-fi fantasy fan and a lot of my childhood memories are intrinsically linked with Wars, Trek, and Galactica. I remember the 20th Anniversary Special Edition and my dad and Uncle Ed screaming that Han Shot FIRST. I was nine. But my first fandom was The Wheel of Time, when my dad stuffed the first half of The Eye of the World into my hand on a car ride and told me read it. And then he told me to persevere (three times) when the first 50 pages turned out to be the dullest in literary history. This was in the early Thousands, before Tumblr or blogs. Instead we had bulletin boards and chat rooms. My nick was golden_lily, (the personal sigil for Elayne Trakand,) and I was obsessed. If my dad had died at the height of my fandom? I don't know what I would have done, but I doubt it would be pretty.
Liv lives for fandom, particularly Starveil. When the fourth movie kills off the main character, she can't cope. After weeks of depression, she convinces her best friend Xander to make a few fan videos with her showing that #SpartanSurvived. The fandom runs with it and soon she'd be the toast of the community - if she wasn't anon.
My biggest problem with All The Feels is its lack of commitment. Liv's father was a massive fan of the cult series turned phenomena and it's obvious in the two paragraphs about him, that her reluctance to let Spartan go is directly tied to her unresolved grief over his death. Her mom talks about a time fandom almost destroyed Liv's life in high school, but the book doesn’t actually go there. I don't know if we're supposed to think her mother's concern is rational or not. I do know that Liv would benefit from some real therapy, not a job on a movie set.
Characters are flimsy and supremely underdeveloped. Xander's involved with the Steampunk community, but he dresses as a Regency rake at all times. Why? We know he met Liv at college and he wants to be an actor, but not what he's studying or his hobbies. His bisexuality is dropped casually into a conversation, which I did like, but we know nothing about his home or family or interests outside of fandom. Liv's lack of motivation or interests is part of her - can I say arc when there's no actual growth? - but the rest of the cast shouldn't be able to be described in single words.
Arden - X's girlfriend, preppy and annoying
Joe - Loud, bossy, fat
Step-Dad - Asshole
Brian - Asshole
Actor dude - Asshole
Hank - Hot and sweet, until asshole
This is not good! If the only way you can make your main character and her love interest seem nice is by making everyone around them not, you need to revise.
The book is a cliche mess full of girl hate, abuse, and easy to guess plot lines, but the one thing it does right is the fandom voice. The tweets/chat/IMs are authentic and capture the feeling of squealing with friends who love the same things as you. When Liv talks to Joe and Brian online, you absolutely understand they’re “real” friends, even if they haven’t met IRL. Of course, once Liv goes to the con and meets everyone in person, that’s no longer true.
I don’t understand the audience for this book. It reads far too juvenile for the characters ages or the proposed market. There’s no growth; there’s barely a plot. It makes men, women, and fandom look bad. It’s not funny or even particularly romantic, something I need from an imprint called SwoonReads. The main character learns that Hollywood is a corrupt place, but ends up happily working for it with her love interest. It’s bizarre. In all, I’d rather read the novelization of the Star Wars Holiday Special.