Geekarella

February 14, 2018
Geekarella Book Cover Geekarella
Ashley Poston
Retelling
Quirk Books
April 4th, 2017
eBook
320
Library

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic science-fiction 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 has ever wanted, but 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. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

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.

(via Goodreads)

 

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! To pay homage to an adequate-at-best holiday, I’ve decided to post a review for a demi-romance novel: A Cinderella retelling: Geekarella. It has been quite a while since I’ve binge read a book in 36 hours. Geekarella definitely broke that streak! This sweet, heartfelt, coming-of-age Cinderella retelling was exactly the book I needed to wipe away the cold and dark gloom of Winter in Wisconsin.

I’m the lost princess. I’m the villian of the story, and the hero. Part of my mom and part of my dad. I am a face of the universe. The Possible and the Impossible
I am not no one.
I am my parent’s daughter, and then I realize — I realize that in this universe they’re alive too. They’re alive through me.

Our story starts out exactly as you’d expect it to for a Cinderella retelling. Elle is a teenager coping with the recent loss of her father while trying to live with her evil stepmother and stepsisters, all the while counting down the seconds until she turns 18 and can leave this horrible place. She feels alone and isolated, consistently bullied into keeping the peace by doing all the housework for her family while taking the blame for every little thing going wrong. So, Elle escapes the only way she knows how: into the world of Starfield.

Starfield is a Star Trek-meets-Star Wars-meets-Firefly show her parents met and bonded over. In fact, her father even started the first Starfield convention which is now the biggest Geek-Con in the world! She has every episode memorized and even blogs about it. Like how Darien Freeman, the hot young thing from some terrible teen drama, is now cast as her favorite character and idol and is the worst possible choice for this. (Even though this is Darien’s absolute dream role and he might be an even bigger Starfield geek than Elle is!)

So, obviously, due to miscommunication and some weird flukes in the world, Darien and Elle mistakenly text each other over Starfield. And our drama begins.

And if you hate me for being like him, fine, but I’m the best parts of my father. He raised me to fight for what I believe in and to be a good person – and he raised me to see the best in other people!

I want to start with the obvious. There are two key criticisms of this book and I want to squash them flat.

First, people believe the life Elle lives isn’t realistic. Her step-mother is obviously abusive and her step-siblings are terrible and NO adults are around fixing this. Of course, it’s unrealistic! This is a fairy-tale retelling! The cruelty of the step-family is the critical plot point which pushes Cinderella to do what she does. She’s timid, quiet, and your classic introvert. This story is about exceeding your boundaries and expected limitations because you have been pushed to your absolute limits. Yes, the relationship between Elle and her step-family seems over the top and is a bit unrealistic for the modern day, but I think these elements are perfectly done within the expected limits of a fairytale retelling. There is no moment where my suspension of disbelief is broken.

The second key criticism is the realism around two strangers developing a relationship via text message. This criticism blows my mind. Have you never developed a relationship with someone through the internet? This is the same idea, only they are talking using text messages instead of Twitter chat or some such. Particularly considering the age-range of our protagonists, this is a completely relatable concept and perfectly appropriate for this story. Internet friends are real. Why can’t text message friends be real, too?

Criticisms addressed, now it’s on to the things I love!

It’s easier to be who you want to be when you aren’t trying to be who everyone else things you are.

Three words: Positive. Geek. Culture. The whole way this story is portrayed explores the evolution of geek culture over the last few decades. At first, both characters are hiding their obsession with Starfield. She blogs, but she doesn’t go to cons or talks to people about it. He has every episode memorized but is forced to pretend he doesn’t for the fans. Eventually, both of them start to open up more. Elle befriends Sage and Darien “meets” Elle — through these relationships they can accept who they are and what they love. Yes, Elle and Darien run into nay-sayers who don’t understand their experiences or passions and put both them and Starfield down. But, as is to be expected, the whole geeky community rises up to support them. There are no fake fans here. No such thing exists. If you are a fan, you are family.

I adore this. This is the journey many of my friends have experienced themselves. It’s a journey I experienced but in a less extreme way. Geekarella is released at just the right time to help little budding fans who are coming into their own at the end of the transformation recognize this is totally normal. Elle and Darien’s story is an inspiration even without the romance; just their evolution at accepting who they are, what they love, and sharing that with the world is enough.

The only other time I feel myself is when… well, when I talk to Elle, and that’s stupid because she’s the only person who doesn’t know I’m me. How could I be most myself when I’m lying?

Often times, we only hear this story from the perspective of Cinderella. Not the case in Geekarella! I really appreciate that Poston writes in both Elle and Darien’s perspectives. Alternating perspectives always pique my interest because I love hearing both sides of the story. Since Elle and Darien are not physically together, this also helped us experience the journey they are both going through. Elle’s character is complex and realistic, but thankfully so is Darien’s.

While it’s obvious that Elle plays the Pauper and Darien plays the Prince, they are both experiencing a lot of challenges and heartache. Instead of ringing true to the Brothers Grimm story (thank goodness! That one is violent…) or the Disney version, instead, I feel like this is closer to Ever After or Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. The prince is a character who is also suffering in his own way. It’s wonderful to see that his world isn’t all perfection. There are a lot of challenges in Darien’s life he is coping with; being the biggest star in Hollywood isn’t easy. Providing the reader with insight into Darien’s perspective as well just makes the relationship between Darien and Elle even more realistic and wonderful.

Speaking of elements from varying Cinderella retellings— I love the unique twist on many of these concepts. For example, the Pumpkin carriage is actually a vegan pumpkin food truck. This is brilliant. Or the ways in which the slightly-less-evil-stepsister rebels against her family- no spoilers, though. 😉 I love all the little details Poston has added which honor many different retellings and their different interpretations.

And he kisses me again. It isn’t the kind of kiss to end a universe of possibilities. It’s the exact opposite. It’s the kind of kiss that creates them.

I couldn’t be happier Geekarella popped up in my life when it did. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a book in my hands which made me want to stay up late at night and read it. It was the fluffy, wonderful, happy (but eliciting strong negative emotions at times) piece of literature I needed. As I get closer and closer to my wedding date (39 days and counting…), I have less and less energy, both emotionally and physically, to dedicate to reading. I would recommend Geekarella to anyone who likes retellings who needs to get out of a reading slump, or who just wants something fluffy and happy to keep them going.


What do you think?

  • Have you read Geekarella? What are your thoughts?
  • Do you enjoy fairy tale retellings? Why or why not? If you do, what are your favorites?
  • What are some of your favorite fluffy, fun books to read?
  • What is the last book which kept you up all night finishing it?

8 Comments

  • Laila@BigReadingLife February 14, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    I don’t know that I’ve read enough fairy tale retellings to have an opinion, really. I’m so glad you found a fun read that totally absorbed you, especially as your big day draws closer. I have been feeling like I need some light(er) reading myself. Probably this gray gray gray weather. This one sounds really cute!

    • Jackie B February 16, 2018 at 4:27 pm

      I am starting to gain a wider breadth of fairy tale retellings to share my thoughts from, which is super exciting. They can be a lot of fun if you’re familiar with the content or if you aren’t. I perfer to read retellings for fairy tales I know just because then I spot all the fun twists the author took. It’s like an I-Spy game in novel form!

      This weather has really been bringing me down, too. I need more fluffy fun novels in my life like yesterday. 😉 I wish it was easier for me to find books like this! More often than not they are duds. 🙁

  • Helen Murdoch February 14, 2018 at 9:11 pm

    I haven’t read this but have definitely added it to my TBR list! Thank you.

    • Jackie B February 16, 2018 at 4:20 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Helen! I hope that when you pick it up you find Elle’s tale just as uplifting as I did. 😀

  • Grab the Lapels February 16, 2018 at 5:08 pm

    I read an entire book in text messages that I enjoyed. It felt more honest.

    Because people today are so focused on dignity and kindness, they seem to believe that everyone gets it. In the 90s, kids used best my husband up. He told SEVERAL adults, and no one did anything. Abuse happens. It continues to happen, even when others know about it. It’s real.

    I think the only issue I take with Geekarella based on your review is that I kept reading the title of the show as Seinfeld!

  • LizScanlon February 17, 2018 at 8:38 am

    This book sounds absolutely great! I love how you addressed the criticisms- right on! If there’s ever a time when one can’t pull the unrealistic card, it’s for fairy tales and their retellings!
    I also agree on the internet-interaction. Before I got together with my husband, we got to know each other on FB (of all places) 😀 but we were living in different towns, and when you have a free way of chatting (rather than only by phone) then why the heck not?!
    Excited to hear your wedding is so close! I hope everything is all (nearly set) for the big day 🙂 The last wedding I went to, we were prepping bridesmaids stuff and table decorations the night before the wedding day 😀 up until 3am 😀 but we got there in the end and the day worked out perfectly! 🙂

  • (Danielle) Books, Vertigo and Tea February 18, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    I was really not buying when everyone kept trying to sell me on this one, but I think you may have succeeded where others failed! It seems like it offers a bit more depth and feeling that I was expecting from simply reading the blurb. Wonderful review Jackie!

Participate in the discussion!

%d bloggers like this: