There’s been plenty of takes over the years on the Cinderella fairy tale of an orphaned girl who is made to be the house servant to her cruel stepmother and mean stepsisters who’s life takes a miraculous turn after a trip to the ball. But Geekerella is the first time Cinderella’s story centers on science fiction fandom and a cosplay ball.
In Geekerella: A Fangirl Fairy Tale, the debut novel by Ashley Poston, teenager Danielle “Elle” Wittimer is obsessed with Starfield, the classic science fiction television series she grew up watching with her dad. Ever since her father passed away when she was 8, she’s been relegated to a tiny room, excluded from all activities and family fun, and made to do all the housework for her stepfamily — her socialite stepmother Catherine and obnoxious twin stepsisters Chloe and Calliope, all of whom disregard and disrespect her.
For the summer, Elle is working at a vegan food truck with the owner’s goth daughter Sage to save money to attend “ExcelsiCon,” a Comic-Con-like convention that her father co-founded, where she plans to enter a contest at the cosplay ball. Part of the winnings is a meet-and-greet with Darien Freeman, the young star of the upcoming Starfield movie reboot. Unfortunately, she’s got a few obstacles in her way, the main one being her wicked stepmother — she’s ruining her life!
Darien, meanwhile, is facing some familial struggles as well as ones pertaining to his career. He’s just landed his dream role as Federation Prince Carmindor in the new Starfield film, but thanks to his long-time gig on a hit teen television series and some killer abs, the 18-year-old is considered nothing more than a teen heartthrob. Plus, his dad/manager is ruining his life!
Elle is an instantly likable character, whose struggles are very easy to empathize with. She lost both of her parents at a very young age and the only family she’s left with shows her no love, compassion, or guidance. Her mistreatment is so insidious and ingrained in her that Elle doesn’t even realize her own self-worth and that she actually deserves better than what she’s been handed. She’s a smart, resourceful girl, who is an innocent, good-natured soul.
Darien is more of an misunderstood character. While he has to cope with backstabbing friends, jealous cast mates, and a father who cares more about fame and fortune than his own son’s well-being, the young actor doesn’t always make the right choices. When Elle finds out a teen heartthrob who presumably knows nothing about Starfield is playing her favorite character, she rants about it on her blog, which Darien ends up reading. That’s when we see all of his self-doubt come to the surface.
Anyone who’s into geek fandom will enjoy and totally relate to Geekerella. The book is a quick read as it goes back and forth between the first-person narratives of Elle and Darien. I couldn’t and didn’t want to put it down. It hits upon so many aspect of geek culture – the idea of “poseurs” and fake geek girls; the outrage prompted by movie castings and reboots; the obsession that accompanies fandom; the magnitude of the cosplay world, and so much more. And it does all that while interjecting technology as a way for two lost souls to connect and even to fall in love in this modern world.
Last summer, Quirk Books sent me an advanced uncorrected proof of Geekerella and as soon as I saw it was Geek Cinderella complete with a cosplay ball and a would-be princess working on a vegan food truck, I knew it was the book for me, even if I don’t typically gravitate towards Young Adult novels. I quickly breezed through the first 40 pages and instantly loved what I read. But since I had just lost my own father to cancer, I found it hard to continue. Whenever Elle mentioned how broken her heart was because she missed her father so much, I would cry uncontrollably. When she talked about watching Starfield as a child with her dad, I would think about how I grew up watching Star Trek and Doctor Who with my father. It was just too painful, but I so wanted to finish it. So I kept the book nearby, knowing that I’d eventually return to it, and since it didn’t publish until the following Spring, I still had time. Reading it recently, I was totally engrossed and immersed in this modern geeky fairy tale.
Geekerella hits the spot. It’s an uplifting, adorable take on a classic fairy tale with a lovable heroine and a story that would have delighted 12-year-old me, but actually did manage to elate jaded, cynical adult me. Ashley Poston gets my stamp of approval on this Cinderella story. I’d love to see her do another geeky twist on a beloved classic.
P.S.: I also loved the wraparound cover and the fact that Elle’s neighbor’s dog made it onto the artwork.
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.