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 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.
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.
3 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.
This one left me a bit conflicted. I am a self-professed geek, and really enjoyed all the geek references in this book (whether quotes or nods to real life fandoms, or just the overall feel of BEING in a fandom). That was honestly the highlight of the book for me, b/c I really do love the whole world of nerd culture (even if I’m not the type to cosplay or go to cons). And on the whole I was definitely entertained by this book, and don’t regret reading it, I was just a bit disappointed b/c it was missing some magic.
For me, characters are what make or break a story, and I just didn’t end up loving EITHER of our main characters. Which is not to say I disliked them!! I just didn’t love them. And I kind of need to love at least one of them for me to really enjoy a story. They both felt a bit weak and with less dimension than I would have liked. I needed more from both of them.
Elle has a rather tragic childhood and current situation (consistent with the Cinderella tale), but I didn’t end up really feeling much empathy for her. I didn’t really get a feel for her emotions on any of the events that shaped her. She felt kind of flat. I can’t even tell you why, what did I need to make it…just…more… But I didn’t really *feel* her grief. I didn’t feel her loneliness, or what did she feel after whatever happened the previous summer? And I couldn’t vibe with how socially inept she was that it took her so long to understand when Sage was reaching out to her. It felt…forced? I don’t know, I’m probably mucking this all up. She just wasn’t that interesting I guess. Like she had some of the building blocks there, but never went anywhere with them. She wanted to be a scriptwriter, but she had stopped writing (other than on her blog)? How was that going to work out?
And Darien. OK, I am all for a beta boy, but a beta boy still has to have some inner strength, you know? Some quality that makes you root for him. His development and backbone took entirely too long to come around. Why was he so reluctant to take his career into his own hands? Why did he let Mark boss him around like that? Was he just apathetic? I guess I can kind of see it based on things that had happened in his past, but it wasn’t enough to make me really get behind him. Did he even like acting??
And for goodness sake, what race was he? Was he Indian? The only reason I would guess that is because he’s not a white-washed pick for Carmindor, and the previous actor’s last name was Singh. Why bother having that element and not go into it? I can’t even call this book diverse, b/c it’s NEVER EXPLORED. What was it like to be a different race celebrity heartthrob? Was he half? ANYTHING! JUST GIVE ME SOMETHING! Or don’t make it an element at all! That, apparently, really annoyed me.
And honestly, the chemistry between Elle and Darien wasn’t really there besides a bit of a friendship. I didn’t really buy that development. From the messages we saw, I’m not sure what drew them together. I could have used a bit more. Even when they finally interacted in person, they were both so distracted by other things, I didn’t get the magic I was looking for until the ball. Bummer.
And in the end I was unsatisfied with the evil characters. They were kind of caricatures. And Catherine was abusive as heck, so I didn’t get a satisfactory resolution with her. I guess it was realistic in some ways, but still unsatisfying. Chloe’s was a bit better, but again, she was a stereotypical mean girl. No depth there. And I wasn’t always happy with how things happened along the way to stick with the plot (like bringing the costume back to the house, hiding the tickets in the house). Not to mention the whole selling the house thing. If it was left to Elle, then how can Catherine sell it? Is there no law there?
Sage and Calliope were bright spots in terms of secondary characters. I felt bad for both of them because Elle really took a long time to give them a chance. But I liked that they each had more depth to their characters. On the other side, I enjoyed Gail and Lonny, but felt like there could have been even more from them…I wanted more anyways.
So yeah. That all reads like a bummer review. But it’s really just me ruminating on why this book missed the mark between an entertaining read and a life-changing read. If you enjoy nerd culture though, I think you will love all the nods in this one. In the end it was a book with a LOT of potential that just failed to live up to it for me.