Author: Ashley Poston
Genre: contemporary, retelling
Published: April 4 2017
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale.
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 Starfieldfandom 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.
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.
I ended up liking Geekerella, but it was a struggle at first.
First, the book has a lot of superficial similarities to another book about fandom I read and hated last year. Instead of making me feel, "wow this is what that book was trying to do!", I felt like it was more of the same. A fandom liberally ripped off of Star Trek. A nerdy main character with no interests outside of fandom. A movie reboot and fan backlash, also liberally stolen from the real Trek fandom. An overabundance of actual fandom references to make the book seem hip to geeks IRL. It's not Poston or the book's fault my mind compared it to another, but it kind of is its fault that this has been done before.
Second, while I liked Darien from his first chapter, I took a long time to warm to Elle. She just came off very flat for me. She had no interests outside of the fandom. I needed her to write original screenplays or volunteer at an animal shelter since she loves the neighbor’s dog. Listen to obscure Swedish pop or secretly smuggle Harlequin romances under her pillow. Something! Work it into the existing story by having her be a former ballroom dancing champion, a childhood passion driven by all those waltzes with dad in the living room. Or, she took the job at the Magic Pumpkin because she has a secret love of the movie Chef and a passion for street food. Literally anything besides fanfiction and reruns. Elle won me over once the story moved to the con, but it made more than 50% of the book a slog.
I do like the attempt at diversity in the book, as Darien is Indian and the role of Carmidore is specifically written for an Indian main character, something we Trekkies definitely didn’t get in 1966. There’s also a f/f beta romance, though it doesn’t get a lot of screen time and the evil step-mother is a homophobe. I could see the author making an effort, especially in the crowd scenes, but there's a small primary cast and it's pretty white.
Random gripes: Darien's assistant is a fucking idiot and it's not cute. Promoting her was the worst idea in the whole book. She'll tank his career in three months. I also hated the saboteur plot and I don't understand how getting stuck on a roof and filming a stunt gone wrong were supposedly career-ending gossip items? In these modern Cinderellas, why are there never any aunts or grandparents fighting for custody? Like, you don't just get custody of your ex's kid unless you've legally adopted them, and if these evil step-mother's are going to court for custody, why? Also, I know you feel the dog's being abused, but you can't just steal other people's pets or bring them to tent-pole action franchise premiers.
As you can see from my random complaints, there’s nothing really wrong with Geekerella. Despite a slow start and some plot points that don't have a lot of grounding in the real world, it’s a cute premise. It's a fun fantasy, but it never brought me to the impossible universe with Ella and Dare.