Geekerella (Once Upon a Con #1), by Ashley Poston
Publish Date: April 4, 2017
Published by: Quirk Books
Length: 320 pages
Genre: YA Romance/Contemporary/Retelling
My Rating: ★★★★★ (5 out of 5 stars)
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 Starfieldmovie, 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.
Holy cuteness overload, Batman!! I can’t believe I bought this book when it first came out and didn’t pick it up until now! This was positively one of the cutest/heart warming books I have read and it honestly left me with such a smile on my face and tears in my eyes. It was touching, emotional, gleeful, and full of such delightful little moments that it had me hooked almost from the start.
First of all, this book included two of my favorite tropes: enemies-to-lovers and texted-the-wrong-number-but-lets-keep-talking-anyway. Well, I don’t know if the second one is technically a trope, but there was this Klaine fic that used that as a plot basis and it was one of my absolute favorites so of course when it started in this book my heart started to swell. But I just loved the juxtaposition of seeing Darien and Elle fall in love through text messages while knowing that in real life she hates Darian Freeman and says so on her blog which he reads. It’s just…it works so well. Because it takes the original Cinderella story and actually has them falling in love because of their personalities and not their looks but also brings so much tension to the plot as well because he doesn’t know that she is actually the blogger writing scathing reviews of him and she doesn’t know that he is the actor she thinks she hates.
And don’t get me started on the characters. Darian stole my heart away far too easily. That scene next to the vending machine? Broke my damn heart. I think that was the actual point I fell in love with this story because holy shit is that a feeling – knowing there are people who know you, but knowing that none of them actually know you, is one of the loneliest feelings in the world and that…that got me. And just, watching him find happiness with Elle while also struggling with his acting life versus his personal life was just such a strong and complex character development and I loved everything that Darien was and became over the course of this novel.
I enjoyed Elle, too, and could relate to her at some points (mostly the fandom stuff), but I also got frustrated with her sometimes for so rarely standing up for herself. She just let Catherine and Chloe say and do things to her and despite her attempts to say something, I just wished sometimes that she would try harder. On the other hand, it was wonderful to see her come into herself over the course of the novel as she grew more confident and gained a friendship with Sage and discovered the parts inside of herself that were always there.
I really liked that Calliope’s character arc was clear throughout the story, and that she changed and grew over the course of it. In contrast, though, Chloe was just downright petty and obnoxious. I really wish that there had been more to why she acted the way she did, and for a moment I thought there was. It seemed at one point that she was actually jealous of Elle, and I realized it was because despite losing her father early, he had loved her, whereas Chloe’s father had left them. I thought this could have been such a strong breakthrough in her character if it had been acknowledged, but sadly it never was, and it almost has me wondering if I read too much into things. But I don’t think I did, and I can still despise Chloe for taking her own anger with her father out on Elle, who never deserved that sort of treatment, rather than the man who hurt her in the first place.
Altogether, though, I loved this book. It made me smile, it made me cry, it made my heart ache for the characters, had my getting angry on their behalf, but most of all, it had me rooting for the two leads. Both in their budding romance as well as in their own personal struggles and journeys to make their lives their own, to be happy with who they are.