In The Princess and the Fangirl, writer Ashley Poston returns to the world she built in 2017’s Geekerella, with a Prince and the Pauper-type switch between a famous actress and her fangirl double.
In this Geekerella spin-off, the action takes place once again at the annual ExcelsiCon convention, where the main attraction is Starfield, a long-running beloved scifi franchise about to see a sequel to its recent big-screen reboot (think Star Trek). At the con, Starfield fangirl Imogene is on a mission to #SaveAmara, the princess played by Oscar-nominated Jessica Stone who was seemingly killed off in the reboot. Unfortunately, Jessica, who we were introduced to in Geekerella, doesn’t want her character to be saved, because not only does she not “get” the whole fandom aspect, she’d rather move on to more serious acting roles.
After Imogene gets mistaken for Jessica at the Con, the actress approaches her doppelganger to switch places for the weekend while she sniffs out the person who stole her copy of the new Starfield script and is strategically leaking parts of it to social media, a situation that could end her Hollywood career entirely.
Though this spin-off centers Imogene and Jessica and their respective friends, Geekerella‘s main character Elle does make a cameo, while her prince charming Darien, who stars opposite Jessica in the Starfield movies, appears throughout the story, though mostly as a minor supporting character.
The chapters switch back and forth between Imogene and Jessica’s perspectives as they navigate through their new roles: the former attending panels and autograph sessions; the latter helping out Imogene’s artist friend at her booth and going to con parties while playing amateur sleuth. Imogene isn’t used to receiving attention, wearing make-up, or being called beautiful, while the famous Jessica finds freedom in anonymity and friendship in some unlikely places. Obviously both teenagers are fish out of water in their respective situations, but it’s a chance for them to understand how the other half lives — what motivates and inspires the fans to be so dedicated and also how internet trolls, social media mob mentality, and sexual harassment can make a celebrity jaded towards their own fanbase.
While I’m well above the age of the main characters and the book’s intended YA audience, I did find there was still a lot I could relate to. I obviously know what it is to be a fangirl and I’ve lost count of how many “Save” this show/character/thing hashtags I’ve shared to social media in my life. I’ve spent decades going to conventions, being immersed in cosplay, attending panels, waiting impatiently for a movie’s first trailer or the announcement of a sequel. Poston really understands the scope and intensity of fandom as well as its unfortunate dark side, and it shows in this “Once Upon A Con” series.
Yes, in real life a life-swapping scenario like this could have never worked with such little preparation and resources, but this is a fairy tale after all, so anything’s possible. I totally love a good switch story, and this one is not only fun and exciting, but heartfelt, with a “mystery to solve” bonus on top of it. For adults, The Princess and the Fangirl is quick read that will make you smile and remember the craziness and intense emotions of youth, while teens will just devour this perfectly fantastical story.
A note about the cover and design: With Geekerella, I was thrilled to see the neighbor’s dog make it onto the cover; with The Princess and the Fangirl, I’m just as happy to see that a celebrity’s cat is featured looking for attention along with the paparazzi. Quirk Books is doing a great job with the packaging for the hardcover editions for this series, with glittery titles, adorable wraparound jacket covers, hardcovers with the Starfield emblems, and endpapers pertaining to ExcelsiCon. The design alone makes it worth getting the hardcovers on release (don’t wait for the paperback!).
FYI – If you want to dive right into this series or are on the fence about it, the Kindle Edition of Geekerella is on sale right now for only $1.99.
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.