by Ashley Poston4 out of 5
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.
Elle is a super-fan of the old Starfield series she used to watch with her dad. Now, they're planning on remaking it with the worst lead actor they could pick. But a competition might give her the freedom she craves, and the chance to meet the guy she likes.
The narrative is split between fan-girl Elle and actor Darien.
Elle wants nothing more than to escape from her family home. After her dad died, Elle has spent years living with her stepmother and stepsisters, working her arse off to maintain the house and save a little money; whereas her step-family spend way beyond their means, trying to keep up the illusion their upper class.
She's is a complete geek, with fantasy and sci fi worlds providing some escapism. Her one true love is Starfield, an old series that has become a cult classic. It was her dad's favourite - so much so, that he set up Excelsicon, so fans could gather annually.
The program is like the last connection she has with her parents (her mum was a megafan too, and died when she was very young), and when news arrives that they are doing a reboot, it's both terrifying and exciting. Actually, when pretty-boy Darien Freeman was announced, it's just plain terrifying.
Darien loves being an actor, especially when he gets to play the role of a lifetime. He loved Starfield when he was a kid, and he felt born to play the lead role, bringing it back to life.
The downside, is how crazy everything is. He didn't ask to become a teen heartthrob, and the fans can go overboard. His dad/manager is super-strict, and Darien has a bodyguard, an unending diet and exercise routine, and now it seems that he is "dating" his co-star. He doesn't have any friends, as the fame thing has made them untrustworthy - what's friendship, if you can cash in Darien's secrets with the press?
I loved how they seem to be more than just one character to one another. Not just famous-Darien and geek-Darien; but how Elle is the timid servant, the witty and harsh Starfield blogger, and a cos-player full of dreams. It's only when she talks to Darien that she's real-Elle.
Elle's colleague and soon-to-be-best-friend Sage is awesome. She adds some normality in Elle's life, which is a lot for someone with brightly-dyed hair, driving a orange pumpkin foodtruck. She acts as her fairy-godmother, giving Elle the support she needs to go back to ExcelsiCon for the first time since her dad's death.
The parents in this story are perfectly vile (with the exception of Sage's mum). Elle's stepmother is a social climber, who makes no secret of her dislike for Elle, whilst happily frittering away her inheritance. Darien's dad is equally unlikable, never once acting like a father, and practically pimping his son out, so he can ride the coattails of Darien's fame.
The various fandoms rolled out made my geek-self very happy. I felt that the geekiness was written in a realistic way by a true fan, instead of a gimmick. The only time the geekiness failed was the male narrator's mis-pronunciation of Dalek. It's Dah-lek darling, not Day-lek.
The audiobook had two narrators and it was generally a lot of fun to listen to. There were parts where I wished I'd gone for a written copy instead - a fair amount of Elle and Darien's interactions are via text message - the narrators did the best they could, but I found the format hard to follow and it really broke the flow.
example: "unknown number, two forty-seven pm: Hi."
Overall, I really enjoyed this, and I will definitely check out the rest of the series.