In the fandom world, we have a lot of what we call “feels.” When a piece of entertainment media hits you so hard that you can only squeal and jump and laugh and altogether react to whatever’s happened in the movie, TV show, book, comic, etc. And right now, I have a lot of them “feels” in regards to today’s book.
“Fandom” is a novel concept to generations that didn’t grow up with instant communication, via the Internet. The plethora of mediums through which we discuss and enjoy entertainment media nowadays is astounding; we kind of have to, with how much entertainment is available for consumption. One of these mediums is the comic convention: cosplays, panels, artists, vendors, celebrity guests, and yes, “feels.” I’ve been to four of these conventions in three years, and let me tell you…there is a special magic to these events that is difficult to explain to someone not immersed in the world of fandom. But I’ve digressed long enough. What about Ashley Poston’s The Princess and the Fangirl?
Actress Jessica Stone is in a pickle: she’s found unexpected success with the runaway sci-fi hit, Starfield, but she is trying desperately to leave the franchise, trying to chase an award-winning career elsewhere. But lo and behold, at the annual ExcelsiCon, some Internet troll begins leaking pages from the Starfield sequel’s script, which could destroy Jess’s career. Her search for the culprit brings Imogen Lovelace—a girl who looks eerily similar to Jess—into the picture, and Jess has an idea. The two lookalikes will switch lives for the whole convention, and give Jess time to catch the culprit. Of course, with cases of mistaken identity, no one will fall in love with the right person…
Much like with Poston’s first book, Geekerella, The Princess and the Fangirl is a love letter to fandoms wrapped up in a fluffy and fun retelling, this time with The Prince and the Pauper. The cozy but crazy atmosphere of a comic convention makes a return, but now contained within just three crazy days. And as any con-goer will tell you, lots of insane things can happen in just one weekend. Luckily, this book’s plot is just as insane and fun. In fact, after Imogen agrees to Jess’s plan, she says that these things only happen in YA books, a tongue-in-cheek remark that made me laugh pretty hard.
Imogen and Jess are great main leads. I love any story with two people reluctantly taking part in a wild adventure, but then slowly become friends through the ordeal, and this is a particularly endearing case. They’re both easy to empathize with, and I never preferred one girl’s perspective to the other.
Many characters from Geekerella return here, including Elle, Darien, Sage, and Cal. It was great seeing them all come back, especially when they team up with our new characters for the climax (don’t worry, there be no spoilers here).
Like I said, because this is a case of characters switching places, there is a lot of Twelfth Night and Parent Trap shenanigans to be had here (another tongue-in-cheek reference on Imogen’s part). Everyone falls in love with the wrong person, comical misunderstandings ensue, and then it’s a race to put everything right before the convention ends. Again, there be no spoilers, but take my word that it is lots of fun to watch unfold.
This might be a silly little aside, but I read much of this book cuddled up with plushies that I bought at conventions. There is a scene showing cosplayers eating in a fifties-style diner, and it brought me right back to when my friends did the same thing at Indiana Comic Con. Long story short, Ashley Poston continues to express just why fandoms are so amazing, and why the convention culture—why dressing up as beloved characters, writing fan fiction, making fan art, and otherwise celebrating your favorite stories—are so important. And really, nothing warms my heart more than defending those iconic heroes, villains, and anti-heroes, and the stories they come from. Honestly, where would we be without them?