“Look to the stars. Aim. Ignite.”
As a geek girl, this book had instant appeal. Meanwhile, as a romance cynic, I knew it would need to work hard to win me over. And it worked.
Geekerella is the classic Cinderella story retold in the modern day, against the nerdy backdrop of geek culture, fandom, and sci-fi. The main character, Elle, is the ultimate Starfield (a fictional cult sci-fi series) fangirl, and is horrified when she learns that her beloved Federation Prince Carmindor is going to be played by none other than teen heart-throb, Darien Freeman.
Meanwhile, the teen heart-throb and his airbrushed abs are having their own problems. Since he was young, Darien has always dreamed of playing Carmindor, but now that he has the part, other fans are dismissing him as just another pretty face, a fake geek boy, and worst of all, his uniform is the wrong shade of blue.
Almost by chance, Elle and Darien’s worlds collide, and the countdown to ExelsiCon begins: for Darien, this means facing the fans, while for Elle, this is her chance to escape her stepmother for the night, and to enter the cosplay contest and win tickets to the ExelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and the Starfield premiere.
“As the black nebula swallowed each world in darkness, stories are told of a single spark of light blazing brighter than a star that gave people hope when all was lost.”
This was a sweet, geeky, and fun book, with interesting and relatable characters who really made me root for them. I found Elle instantly relatable, and her passion for Starfield made me smile, because it felt so similar to my own feelings about my favourite TV series and books. Even better, Elle is a blogger, which made her feel even more familiar. Meanwhile, Darien’s chapters gave the book a unique twist, telling the Cinderella story from a different point of view.
While the story followed some of the usual ingredients of a Cinderella retelling (a lost slipper, a rush to leave the ball before midnight, and an evil stepmother), it reinvented a few areas of the story. Instead of falling in love at first sight while dancing, Elle and Darien’s relationship built up through a series of anonymous text messages. I liked this addition to the story, as it gave the romance time to build up, and allowed me to see how much Elle and Darien had in common. In other ways, the relationship still felt like a fairytale romance, complete with fairytale ending, so the story didn’t stray too far from its inspiration.
In terms of the secondary characters, I liked the character of Sage, the quirky, green-haired girl Elle works with at The Magic Pumpkin, and hated Elle’s stepmother, Catherine, and stepsister, Chloe (as I should). There was nothing subtle about these characters: they felt as though they had jumped straight from a fairytale into the modern world. They were instantly loathable. The second stepsister, Cal, meanwhile had a little more depth, and her character developed during the course of the story.
“She’s like a Dalek with a blacklist. Absolutely relentless.”
While there weren’t a lot of surprises to this familiar story, it wasn’t all about the romance. The nerdy references, Elle’s isolation, and Darien’s struggles with the price of fame really added to Geekerella. In fact, my favourite things about this book were the moments between the romance, the individual stories of Elle and Darien.
The book was well-paced, there was chemistry between the characters, and it had tiny doses of suspense and sadness injected into all the right places. There were also some beautiful quotes scattered throughout this story, and I liked the writing style.
Geekerella is a fun and quirky take on a classic, but it also tells a different story: one of friendship, loss, fandom, and being yourself. A great read for fans of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, who are looking for another nerdy leading lady to root for.
“We might all be different – we may ship different things or be in different fandoms – but if I learned anything from twenty-three days in a too-blue uniform playing a character I thought I could never be, it’s that when we become those characters, pieces of ourselves light up like glow sticks in the night.”
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