Review + Giveaway: The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

Rating: 5 stars
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Publisher: Quirk Books
Genre: young adult contemporary romance, retelling
Format/Source: ARC from the publisher
Status: book 2 of the Once Upon a Con series
(companion to Geekerella)
Links: Geekerella review (also 5 stars)
Geekerella blog tour

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.

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. This does not affect the content of my review.
Just over two years ago, I fell in love with a little geeky book named Geekerella and promptly went about yelling at everyone to read it. It became a new obsession, and honestly, not much has changed. I still yell at everyone to read it. So I was SUPER EXCITED when I found out there would be a second book set in the Geekerella world, but instead of a direct sequel (honestly, Elle & Darien have their happily ever after so why bother them?), this new story is a companion that focuses on Darien's costar, jaded Hollywood darling Jess Stone. I don't know about you guys, but I'm all about companions so it's all good for me!

A huge part of the charm of Geekerella is that it's a love letter to fandom from someone who intimately knows and loves fandom. Ash Poston is a fangirl after my own heart. She's someone who truly understands both the fandom life and the con experience, and it's beautifully reflected in this series. But for all the fangirling and squeeing and fanmade products and the overall joyous side of fandom, there's also a darkness, a sludgy toxic awfulness that pervades even the happiest of fandoms. This is the #GamerGate side. The Star Wars and Ghostbusters purists who ran Kelly Marie Tran, Daisy Ridley, and Leslie Jones off social media. The butthurt Marvel fans who tried to torpedo Captain Marvel on Rotten TomatoesGeekerella gave a few glimpses of this, but it is in The Princess and the Fangirl that the readers witness just how stressful it can be to experience hate from fans. TP&TF is an unflinching look at the abuse and harassment that can stem from loving a fictional universe too hard. It's one thing to be picky about details (in this series: the color of Darien's jacket in the movie is not blue enough to match David Singh's jacket from the original Starfield series. Real life example: Hermione's dress being pink instead of periwinkle in Goblet of Fire), but it's another to be outright racist and sexist, both of which are shown in TP&TF.

I'm so glad Ash showed this. Fandom is a beautiful part of my life, but I've witnessed a lot of ugliness over the years in different fandoms. I've refused to become an active member of certain communities as I've seen that toxicity from the outside, and I also see it in communities in which I AM an active participant (*cough*BookTwitter*cough). I think TP&TF does a fantastic job of examining harmful behaviors and their consequences, and I'm grateful for it. If members of a community don't recognize their words and actions can be anywhere from hurtful to outright harassment, there's no way to fix it.

And Ash very adeptly connects how small behaviors have the ability to become outright harassment. In this case, Imogen is determined to #SaveAmara, and readers witness how that affects Jess's life. Imogen had the purest of intentions; she just wanted to see her favorite character redeemed. Imogen's story is seeing the fandom from Jess's point of view, and her arc throughout the book is growing to see the dark sides. In contrast, Jess gets to see Starfield and the con experience through Imogen's pov, and after only seeing the darkness, she's surprised by the sweet sincerity of much of the fandom. 

I'm probably making TP&TF sound all dark and depressing since it's about exploring the negative aspects of fandom. But have no fear! This is an Ash Poston book, after all! TP&TF also has a LOT of sweetness and fluff, just like Geekerella. There are two romances, one f/f (I believe Jess is demisexual, but I can't confirm) and one m/f, that will have you looking like the heart eyes emoji.

actually me

There's stargazing at a con party (look: con parties are a hell of a good time!) and hate-to-love (my drug!) and teenage shenanigans and fully dressed people flirting in a pool a la Miss Congeniality. There is a mystery to be solved, and Darien being a full-on nerd, like we know and love him to be. There are easter eggs for fans of all kinds of franchises (I may or may not have teared up every time the good good boys of The Adventure Zone were referenced), and a lovely character who is a touching homage to Carrie Fisher, the first lady of fandom.

The Princess and the Fangirl is so much fun to read, but it also made me examine my own relationship to fandom. It's thought-provoking AND it's sweet and fluffy. YES! THESE BOOKS EXIST! Books can BE fluffy and also full of substance! It's about being honest. It's about anxiety and how most of us struggle with not feeling like we're enough. It's about trying new things and trusting people and putting yourself out there. It's about learning to be confident. It's about love and friendship and family, and it's about being delightfully, unabashedly nerdy and not apologizing for it.

I absolutely adore this series, and I'm so grateful that it exists. I think The Princess and the Fangirl is the perfect companion to Geekerella, and I hope you love it too. Which is why I'm giving away a signed copy! Scroll down for details!

Purchase Links:

About the Author:
Ashley Poston loves dread pirates, moving castles, and starry night skies.

She graduated from the University of South Carolina, where she really just played a lot of video games and wrote fanfic. Lucky for her, she’s now the author of quite a few books. When not writing, she can usually be found playing Dungeons and Dragons and… still writing fanfic. She lives in South Carolina with her bossy cat, and they are firm believers that we’re all a bunch of weirdos looking at other weirdos, asking for their usernames.

Author Links:

Open to US residents. Entrants must be 13+. Giveaway is open until 12 AM CDT April 24th. Please enter via Rafflecopter below; winner will be chosen at random, and odds are determined by number of entries. I reserve the right to disqualify any entries that are not in accordance with my giveaway policies as stated in the Review & Site Policies tab at the top of the page.Good luck!

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  1. So many, I have! Star Wars, Harry Potter, Firefly would probably be my top 3. Supernatural, Eureka, Teen Wolfe would be next.

  2. This is a great review, Mary! I really appreciate you taking the time to tell us your honest opinion. And you've definitely bumped it up on my TBR! Thanks for sharing!

  3. "What is your most very favorite franchise (can be movies, books, tv shows, video games, podcasts, whatever!)?" Well, who can forget Buffy--she is my hero!

  4. My favorite is definitely Harry Potter. Just watched the second movie in Fantastic Beasts last evening.

  5. I love Disney.. and Star Wars... :)