By Soyeenka Mishra
“We’re all geeks here.”
I picked up this Ashley Poston book with no expectations at all and ended up being pleasantly surprised.
First of all, I liked the dog, Franco, and I am not a dog person. I didn’t like the dog, but we can keep him, yanno? He is tolerable enough to roll around and get treats periodically. Initially, I felt bad for the conditions he was living in, but that concern soon turned into, ‘Buddy’s living the life after all, huh?’ when he gets refuge in the food truck.
Warning: this review will contain spoilers.
Before I dive into it completely, I need to gush about the actual book itself; not just the plot. The paperback has got some serious weight to it, unlike most of the other paperbacks, and it feels so good to touch. Not to forget, the pages.. oh, the pages! I am absolutely in love with the paper used– so opaque, so smooth, so white, so thick. Even if the plot were boring (which I assure you, it isn’t) I would have loved the book all the same.
I quickly read a couple of chapters after first receiving it, getting to know how a normal day goes in the lives of Elle and Darien respectively. Though I got caught up in the stuff of another fandom so I had to put it down to resume later. But once I woke up the next day (it was almost evening), the neon green bookmark inside of the sleek paperback called out to me and I got started in earnest.
The pages started to turn quickly once I got into the book, though I became so absorbed in the story at one point, I didn’t realise it was time for supper (partly because the table clock wasn’t working). Though I put that down to the classic ‘just one more chapter’ excuse which had me finishing the rest of the book in one sitting thanks to it’s perfect bite-sized chapters. They’re short enough to feel the need to read just one more, but not long enough that you’ll want to take a break at any point in between.
Now, let’s talk about the plot. The title not-so-subtly alludes to the fact that this is a Cinderella retelling, and that the main character is a geek. It started off with a fellow fangirl, Elle (short for Danielle) being completely upset over the person who’s been cast as her favourite character, Prince Carmindor from Starfield (haven’t we all felt the same at some point of our lives? Though I’m not in the fandom yet, I’ve heard the Percy Jackson and the Olympians movies were more than disappointing for the fans). There was this line that made me snicker delightedly, when Elle says she slammed on the ‘end’ button so hard she thought she fractured her finger (for context, she’d never talked to Car, aka Darien, over the phone and he’d just said “Hello” after Sage called him from her phone).
I will try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but knowing me, that’ll be futile. Here goes nothing.
I hate Catherine and Chloe. I didn’t completely despise Cal from the beginning, but I wasn’t all ‘you go, gurl’ about her either. I started full-on detesting Chloe when she destroyed the Prince Carmindor costume, crown, and ExcelsiCon tickets. From there, I was like, “Oh goodness, you’re dead meat from now on. Why are you still alive?” before I remembered that this wasn’t a fantasy novel where the death of a character is perfectly normal. But let’s not sour our mood by talking about her; let’s talk about Sage. Can we talk about how badass she is? Breaking the rules to fulfil the dream of your friend, helping her alter her costume, making her a crown from scratch? I know I’ve got the order wrong here, but heck if I care! I don’t care how horrendously fast she drives that pumpkin of a van and how green it makes Darien’s face riding it, but that girl’s it, man! Sage is one of the best best-friend characters I’ve ever read, and I’m positive she’ll make an awesome fashion designer someday. Also, I do ship Sage and Cal (who thought Cal would have a decent character arc, hmm?)
What do I say about Darien? He wasn’t this perfect, flawless Prince Charming but an awkward, dorky, and realistic teenager who I completely adored. It was such a refreshing change. All the while I sort of liked him and thought he was cute and really nerdy (which is a very good thing in my book), but when he defended Elle in front of Chloe at the Cosplay Ball? I loved him from that moment on. He started being brave and taking matters into his own hands – that was amazing, especially when he fired Mark and promoted Gail; both of them deserved their respective fates. And when he decided to drop everything and go after his girl? Hell yeah, Elle had to take him back – I was rooting for him, in the end!
The whole novel went by a breeze – almost like a dream. But it was so much more than that, so much better than that. It showed me a hidden side of an actor’s life, one we rarely get to see. It described just how much a celebrity can differ from their “on-screen” persona and how much more there is to them; not just the characters they portray. It shows you how much stress you can relieve if only you have someone to talk to. It showed me that you don’t always have to be alone; you can let people in, trust them, and show them pieces of yourself which you’ve been hiding away for so long. It reminds me of how much friends matter in life, no matter what narrow-minded and fake people like Catherine think – it’s not the colour of your hair-dye, or your haircut, or your piercings, or the orientation of a person that matters, but the heart of the person; to be a good friend, like Sage. It told me how it’s never too late to stand up for yourself and stop following around ‘popular’ people, like Calliope. Also, it told me that it’s not blood that decides who’s family, but the bond. Clearly, Gail and Lonny were more of a family to Dare than Mark ever was.
In the blurb, the book is described as “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,” and I couldn’t agree more. It has captured the perfect feeling of being absorbed in a fantasy world, a fandom so much that it begins to become a huge part of you, who you are, how you are. It has captured the soul of a true fangirl flawlessly, and that’s no small feat. It was most definitely a modern-day fairy tale, not entirely following the same pattern as countless other Cinderella retellings, but with it’s own little twist which I totally appreciated. Additionally, this is one of the few times when my favourite characters aren’t necessarily the main characters (i.e. Sage). I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love Elle and wholly dote on Dare, but that girl’s something.
This book is for everyone out there who feels out of place anywhere else except in the presence of like-minded people from your fandom. It is for those people who think nothing ever goes right in their lives, those who are misunderstood and underestimated because of their age, those who feel powerless to rebel against the status quo out of respect and fear, those who feel alone in this wide, wide world with no one who cares for them, and for those whose parents who tell you that you can’t learn anything about the “real world” from a work of fantasy. It’ll have you gushing for its cuteness whilst simultaneously reflecting upon its depth.
“This book is for everyone who loves fictional characters, and for everyone who still carries hope for a better world in the darkest of times.”
So if you’re ever feeling suffocated in life, need a light-hearted read, identify as one of the someones I’ve listed above, or just want a good book recommendation, then, please, go and put a smile on your face and devour this book.