As a big fan of the convention circuit, I was instantly attracted to Ashley Poston’s The Princess and the Fangirl. It’s the second book in the Once Upon a Con series (whoops for reading out of order lol) after Geekerella, but I don’t think that takes away from enjoying the fandom references, the energy, and the pure love that Ashley displays for her characters and setting.
Published: 2 April 2019
Publisher: Quirk Books
Genre(s): Contemporary/Young Adult/Retelling/LGBT+
The Prince and the Pauper gets a modern makeover in this adorable, witty, and heartwarming young adult novel set in the Geekerella universe by national bestselling author Ashley Poston.
Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed.
When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.
Rep: F/F romance (side characters)
- Jess does not want to be Princess Amara anymore because she fears being tied to the Starfield series forever, unable to progress in her career through what she views as worthier films. A legit concern because typecasting happens and it can be something hard to breakthrough, especially for women in Hollywood. Her worries and fears were realistic aspects that gave insight into her position.
- Imogen holds the Starfield series, show and film, dear to her heart, especially Princess Amara. She wants to save the character from a presumed demise at the conclusion of the blockbuster hit film that is becoming bigger than the Avengers films. Her perspective really enabled fans (pick your fandom) to feel themselves within the book. Who among us hasn’t worried about their favorite character being killed off? Would we go as far as Imogen to save them?
- There are quips and barbs traded, whether toward each other or with side characters, that add to the annoyance factor of Jess and Imogen. After the incident that prompts their trading places act, however, the reader is able to see some slow development of their respective characters. Their motivations in respect to why they’ve said and done some rude things, why they fear the future (whether it be the Starfield franchise or an unknown life), unfold and make them more layered people.
- This clarity moment for Jess. There’s a specific scene where Jess is trying to follow a clue to the leaked script and she is viewing the 25th anniversary setup for Starfield. The collection of costumes, particularly that of the original Amara Natalia Ford, gives her pause. She wonders about the expectations that were heaped upon her by outside forces (fans and so forth) as well as herself, but also her preconception about what makes an indie film like her Oscar nominated Huntress Rising role “better” than anything being enjoyed at ExcelsiCon (The Last Jedi, Black Panther, Starfield).
- Even though I read this book first and have yet to read Geekerella, there were some throwbacks to the first book that were cute and funny that I could appreciate. I’m sure I’ll love them even more once I’ve read the first book so I can know the full history behind the cameos and whatnot.
- There an annoying quality that both girls have at first that stems from their points of view. It was a bit more abrasive than I would have liked, even if they did grow from it.
- Not enjoying might be a bit strong for this entry, but: Jess cannot see what the attendees of ExcelsiCon value in the shows, the art, the costumes that are on display. Imogen can’t understand why Jess would want to give up on Amara, an iconic female character she could save from fridging if she just fought for her. I was frustrated with these two because they were being so stubborn. Then again, they did just meet, so it’s also hard to be too upset about it.
A definite TBR addition for fans of conventions, especially those who have read Poston’s Geekerella, The Princess and the Fangirl is ultimately a fan letter to the world of costumes, of film festivals, of long nights debating the finer points of our fandoms, and what we would or wouldn’t do to save them. It’s also about being true to ourselves and taking no shit from those that would try to shove us into precut holes because they think they can.
Once Upon a Con is a series I can’t wait to kick back and visit again.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.
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