Author: Ashley Poston
Published: April 4, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Anything can happen once upon a con…
When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.
Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.
I totally judged this book from its title.
Although one of my semi-guilty pleasures is reading about geeky girls, Geekerella was not something I’d see in a book store and pick up. It just sounded so corny. I thought I would give it a chance anyways since it was nominated for Best Young Adult Fiction in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2017—and I was glad I did.
As the title suggests, this book was modern-day retelling of Cinderella following the lives of two geeks, Elle Wietmer and Darien Freeman. Elle Wietmer lived with her demanding stepmother and cruel stepsisters. When she was not doing all the housework in her late father’s house or working at the Magic Pumpkin foodtruck, she ran a casual blog about her favorite cult show, Starfield. Elle’s dreams for an accurate and honorable movie reboot for Starfield were crushed when she learned that teen heartthrob, and her stepsisters’ favorite, Darien Freeman will play the main character. On the other hand, Darien Freeman was tired of keeping up appearances for the press and downplaying his knowledge of Starfield when he was in fact huge Starfield trash. After the two anonymously exchange numbers somehow, they form a bond over their love for Starfield and eventually start connecting in other ways.
Geek + Girl + Blogger = my weakness. I’m sure many of you agree that being able to relate to the characters in a book increases the emotional impact and makes it a lot more personal. In Geekerellla‘s case, I was looking forward to Elle’s character because she sounded the most like me in terms of her hobby: blogging. While she did occasionally blog, those parts of the story took a backseat in the first half of the book to Darien’s story line and—even more—the romance. I think this was part of the reason why I ended up liking Darien wayyy more than Ellie character. He was just so precious! Although he had to act all suave in front of the cameras, he was actually an awkward and sensitive person.
The first half of the book bored me and had me questioning why it was nominated for an award. One reason I may have been so unmoved is that it felt like I had already read the story before. If every 2000s Cinderella-inspired movie (ex. A Cinderella Story (2004), Another Cinderella Story (2008)) and the books Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zapia and Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell had a baby, it would be Geekerella. The story had been retold so many times, and although the cosplay contest was an interesting spin on the royal ball, the preparation leading up to the event wasn’t entrancing enough to hold my attention. On top of that, the romance escalated so quickly to the point that it could almost be considered insta-love.
The nods to fandom and internet culture and, surprisingly, the romance was what saved the story in the end and bumped up my rating.
This book was full of pop culture references ranging from Mean Girls to Doctor Who. None of them flew over my head as they were all things current young adults could relate to which is something I like to see in a book claiming to be YA and contemporary.
“Look to the stars. Aim. Ignite.”
In the second half of the book, there were many moments that tugged at my heartstrings and scenes that made me squeal. Poston most likely modeled Starfield after Star Wars or Star Trek and did a great job of capturing the essence of fandoms. In her heartwarming author’s note, she payed additional respect to fandoms and assured the readers that there was nothing wrong with loving and finding happiness in something unconventional.
Don’t let the title put you off. While the first half of the story dragged, everything came together well at the end making this contemporary book a great homage to all the nerds and fandoms out there.