Review + Giveaway: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Rating: 5 stars
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Quirk Books
Genre: young adult contemporary romance, retellings
Format/Source: arc, from the publisher
Status: standalone

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Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale.

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. 

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.

Honestly, where do I even start with this book that is chock full of utterly delightful nerdy goodness?? Like, this book is one of my favorites of 2017, and I read it in 2016. It's that good. As soon as I heard of Geekerella, I knew I had to have it. Nerdy Cinderella retelling? YES, PLEASE. And THAT COVER! Completely perfect. And here's the best thing is: Geekerella MORE than lives up to its charming summary and gorgeous cover. This book is perfect inside and out. Let me tell you why.

First of all, Cinderella. I think Cindy wins hands down in the popularity war for most adapted fairy tale. Not only are there musicals (it's a requirement for all people to see both the classic with Leslie Ann Warren and the modern one with Brandi because duh) and non-musical angsty teen movies starring Hilary Duff & Chad Michael Murray and gorgeously filmed masterpieces created by genius Kenneth Branagh or starring Drew Barrymore, but there are approximately a thousand and one YA adaptations. How on earth could Geekerella possibly stand out from the crowd? By adding charm, banter, a food truck, and a crap-ton of nerdiness. There's no doubt you're reading a Cinderella retelling when you read Geekerella. All the plot points are there: down-on-her-luck main character with Elle in her name, dead parents, rude stepmother, bratty stepsisters, a fancy event, a swoony prince, a curfew, some sort of pumpkin, and a "fairy godmother", and a shoe. This isn't one of those adaptations that goes subtle. But that's not a bad thing. In fact, even though it's obvious it's Cinderella, Geekerella has so many wholly original elements that balance the story's origins. And even if those components were possibly inspired by other sources, they manage to become their own.

For instance, I am utterly enchanted by Starfield. I'm absolutely into it. I want to see the original show featuring David Singh. I want to watch Darien's movie. I want to see the possible sequel. I want to attend ExcelsiCon and hang with the cosplayers. I want to read Danielle's Rebelgunner blog. I want it all. Starfield may be influenced by Star Trek or Firefly or Battlestar Galactica or Star Wars or Galaxy Quest or any combination of these things, but it is totally it's own thing, and I am INVESTED in it. I think that's such a strength of Ashley's creativity and her writing. It felt so real to me. I want more of it, AND IT'S NOT EVEN THE ACTUAL PLOT. It may be the show-within-the-book and the characters are just roles played by the characters in the book, but they felt like actual characters from a beloved tv show. I'm in love.

As for the characters, I really felt for Elle. Author Melissa Grey wrote a wonderful thread after the live action Cinderella released about how the character of Cinderella is a survival of emotional abuse, not a doormat looking for a man to save her. Elle absolutely receives tons of abuse from her stepmother and stepsisters, and she yet she keeps working for her dreams. The absolutely only time when Elle shows any sign of defeat is this scene

HOO BOY did I say some Words when this moment happened in Geekerella because it's utterly awful, and Elle's stepsister is a complete monster. I love that Elle uses her passion for Starfield to be close to her parents, especially her dad. It's super hard when people die, particularly because of tragic and unexpected circumstances, but finding something that helps you keep them and their memory close is magical. I like that Elle loves to write and works at it on her blog Rebelgunner. I also like how open she is. As Meli points out in her thread, it can be hard to be open to love and friendship after enduring abuse, but she does it. She lets Sage in, she lets Darien aka Prince Carmindor in. She doesn't have her heart on her sleeve (she's actual very careful and guarded and a little suspicious of people), but once she sees that there are good people who want to know her, she lets them.

Darien is also really well written and developed. Like Elle, Darien doesn't have any close friends and his family is not very supportive. In his case, he's a rising star in Hollywood, his best friend sold stories about him to the tabloids, his mom seems to not care about him, and his dad is his momager, but light on the parenting and heavy on the managing. He's closest with his handler, his new bodyguard, and once he starts working on Starfield, his costar Jess (but they're not friends, exactly. She just gives him advice mostly). Darien has a lot on his shoulders, but I didn't get the "oh, woe is me, I'm famous" vibe from him. Darien loves Starfield every bit as Elle, and he worries constantly about living up to the original Prince Carmindor. He wants so much to be good at this job, and I appreciate that. Darien is really sweet, for a YA guy, and despite being this ripped Hollywood heartthrob, he's insecure and a little bit of a bumbler on occasions. Honestly, I'm here for it. He's precious, and I love him. Also, for those inquiring minds: Darien is a poc, and he's not just the love interest. He and Elle have dual pov. It's never explicitly stated, but I assume Darien is Indian because of his taking over the Prince Carmindor role from David Singh and a couple of vague comments about his mom.

A couple of things I would like to mention: I do wish some of the secondary characters had been fleshed out a little better. I think Jess especially was a little slim in her development. There were a couple of moments or revelations about her that specifically had me wanting to learn more. And Sage is pretty fantastic, but I definitely wanted more of her (I'll take a spinoff about her that loosely features Elle and Darien sometimes) because she's just a ton of fun (and I adore the secondary f/f romance she's in, which is like Simon vs level of cuteness). Also, some of the legal things made me make a "hrm, I don't believe that face." Like, Elle owns her house, but her stepmother is the guardian of the house until she turns 18. So...could her stepmother actually sell the house without her permission? And then she moves out when she turns 18, but.... couldn't she just have taken custody of the house back?? It felt a liiiitle plot holey to me, but honestly, this book was so good that I'm not going to nitpick since it was utter perfection otherwise.

I preordered Geekerella halfway through reading it because it's so delightful. Definitely give this one a shot because it has something for so many people. Geekerella is a strongly written and unique twist on the classic Cinderella tale that balances a fun plot with exceptional fandom details and all manner of marvelous geekery with a lively and highly developed cast of characters.

And don't forget to look to the stars. Aim. Ignite!

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About the Author:
Growing up in a small southern town, Ashley played in the high school marching band and earned a BA in English from the University of South Carolina. She has worked as a sound tech, a barista, a hotelier, an assistant to a screenwriter, and a graphic designer, but her favorite job is being professional fanfic writer – I mean author.

Sometimes, you can catch her lurking around in coffee shops where she reads copious amounts of fanfiction about Star Trek and Dragon Age (shhhh, don’t tell her agent extraordinare, Holly Root) and play a lot of video games. Somewhere between the fanfics and killing darkspawn, she writes sci-fi and fantasy.

Author Links:

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  1. I'd be Princess Leia. I've always wanted to be her ever since I saw Star Wars.

    1. LOVE! But which Leia would you choose? She has so many iconic looks!

    2. I would be in her fighter uniform (no way I'm in the thong thingy!!). I love her in the is uniform--she looks so tough.

  2. I hate dressing up, but I always LOVED Hermione's entire look from the ball in The Goblet of Fire (movie). Although I'd change it to a blue dress.

    1. YES. As pretty as the movie dress is, it has always bothered me that it wasn't periwinkle.

  3. Thank you so much for the chance to win! I'd love to read this book! And if I could dress up as anyone, it'd probably be the Queen of Hearts or Alice. :)

    1. Ohhhh, Queen of Hearts cosplay is one of the coolest. I'd love to see how you'd do it.

  4. I love reading re-tellings of my favorite stories/movies as a child! This one sounds amazing.

    1. Me too! And Geekerella really does it in a unique and fun way.

  5. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

    1. LOVE! I've only seen pieces of the movie, but her look is amazing. Regal yet deadly. Great combo.

  6. I'd probably go as Princess Jasmine, she'd be so much fun and Raja would be an amazing accessory :D

    1. Yes! Bonus points if you have a live tiger.

  7. Can't wait to read this! I have it on hold at the Library!