Series: Once Upon a Con, #1
Author: Ashley Poston
Publisher: Quirk Books
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
My Rating: ★★★★☆
This is a spoiler-free review.
Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale.
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. 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.
[ This synopsis is from Goodreads. ]
This was a good Cinderella retelling. I could see the parallels between the original story and this one quite clearly. There’s an evil stepmother, two evil stepsisters (although they’re not ugly), a surprising fairy godmother in the form of someone unexpected, and a Prince Charming in the form of someone we did expect.
Before we get to why I loved this story, I need to tell you my cons.
I’m not sure I agree with the start of the relationship between Elle and Darien. They meet through an accidental text and continue to talk to each other after that incident. It’s could be potentially dangerous talking to someone you know absolutely nothing about over the phone. The fact that neither of them were super truthful about who they were (which I totally understand why but still) means that they were catfishing each other. In the stories it’s cute, but in real life it isn’t.
Also, the way Elle’s stepmother and stepsisters treat her is actually horrendous. Like, I know people can be nasty, but the way they kick her down goes too far. This isn’t a con against the author. Poston wanted to make the step-family evil, and she managed to do it in a very modern way to fit the contemporary setting of her book. I guess in that sense she succeeded in writing some very awful, mean characters. The stepmother and stepsisters’ cruelty honestly rivals that of Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter.
Now with that out of the way, the pros!
This is a small detail, but I really like how the author didn’t name the main protagonist Ella. I feel like a lot of people who write Cinderella retellings tend to name their main character that, and it comes off as cliché nowadays. I like how she got creative with the name and named her Danielle (Elle for short), giving an homage to the original story without being too tacky.
I don’t know it this is a good or bad thing, but this story made me weirdly emotional towards the end. I could feel Elle’s pain when the things so dear and personal to her heart was taken from her over and over again.
I love how flushed out Starfield was despite being a made up show. It’s clear that Poston put a lot of thought, effort, and care when she was planning out the details of this book. Starfield felt like it was a show on the level of Star Wars and Star Trek where there are many devoted and new fans.
I’ve never been to a big convention that caters to multiple fandoms like Comic-Con and FanExpo, but I want to go sometime in my life. Seeing the fun that Elle had on her first time in several years has inspired me to go one day as well.
Overall, it’s a sweet and wholesome story about a girl who finds her happiness despite all the crappy things that happen to her. She rises stronger and better despite people constantly kicking her down. She has her highs and lows. There’s a boy who keeps his head up high despite all the stress and judgement the world throws at him. It’s a wholesome story (minus the evil step-family members), and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to read a solid fairy tale retelling.
This girl got the short end of the stick in LIFE. She has a crappy stepmom who refuses to love her and abuses her and her stepsisters are not any better. This girl is just trying to survive with what she’s given and her step-family keeps taking and taking without giving anything in return.
I love how the author didn’t make him SUPER confident. He still has some insecurities, despite being a super successful actor. Also the things he has to deal with as a teen star must be exhausting.
Catherine (a.k.a. the stepmother)
There is a special place in hell for this lady.
Chloe (a.k.a ½ of the stepsisters)
This girl too.
Cal (a.k.a. the other ½ of the stepsisters)
Parallel to the original Cinderella story, one stepsister is much kinder than her counterpart, just like Cal is.
We love a good sidekick!
I give Geekerella 4 out of 5 unicorn horns.
Until next time….