The Princess and The Fangirl
Author: Ashley Poston
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Quirk Books
Review by CL Vitek
Fandom and celebrity collide in this delightfully geeky YA retelling of the Prince and the Pauper. In the companion novel to 2017’s Geekerella, author Ashley Poston returns to the halls of ExcelsiCon and the Starfield fandom with the story of an actress looking to escape and a fan who wants to be noticed.
After the cult classic sci-fi television show is rebooted into a film, Starfield turns into a box-office success. When the film’s sequel announcement coincides with the annual ExcelsiCon, the fandom buzzes with news and rumors as the film’s cast is slated to make an appearance. Everyone is excited about the franchise’s future – except its leading lady. Actress Jessica Stone was a rising star before being cast as the fierce, fan-favorite Princess Amara. Now, she’s worried more about ruining her future career than she is about whether or not she’ll be in the second film. She’d rather just disappear for a little while to figure it all out. Meanwhile, Starfield fangirl Imogen Lovelace wants nothing more than to see her favorite space princess on the big screen once again.
When the two realize their uncanny resemblance to one another, it provides the perfect chance for each to get what they want. As the con weekend goes on, script leaks threaten the future of the franchise as Jessica and Imogen soon realize that swapping lives, even for a weekend, is a lot more complicated than they thought.
I loved this book. It has some great moments that highlight how much fandom can mean to people – for better or worse. The Princess and the Fangirl explores the relationships between fans and creators. Conventions are a wonderful place for fans to celebrate their fandoms. Can the same be said for the celebrity guests? Jessica Stone is every actress cast as a fan-favorite in genre television or film. Held to impossible standards, she struggles under the weight of the constant onslaught of public opinion over her portrayal of Princess Amara. On the other side of the con, Imogen feels like she’s invisible among her talented friends and family. While the girls come from different places, their stories are both compelling and relatable for anyone standing on the edge of adulthood.
While the book verges into the dark side of fandom to address trolls, body-shaming, harassment, and general toxicity, it never loses sight of the story it’s telling. In the end, it’s stronger for focusing on that message: loving yourself is a hard thing to do sometimes. It’s also got the perfect amount of adorably nerdy (and queer!) romance. The cast is an eclectic, inclusive group of fans that represent the diverse, quirky heart of fandom and convention life. Poston breathes life into these characters so well you’d think they walked right off the con floor.
Verdict: Read it!
While it’s a fantastic companion novel to Geekerella, The Princess and the Fangirl absolutely stands on its own. This delightful fairytale-retelling is a geeky gem for anyone who’s ever felt unseen or found themselves under unfair fandom scrutiny. Growing up in the convention scene, there were so many little moments in the book that hit just the right note for me. A lot of love went into the portrayal of fan culture; the book doesn’t stray into stereotypes or cliché tropes. Any serious themes blend into the narrative organically; it never feels manufactured or heavy-handed. In all, the book is a fun, lighthearted look into fandom conventions and the people who love them. Moreover, the fact that the main cast features a number of diverse LGBTQ+ characters and relationships is a definite bonus. The queer protagonists in this book certainly get the chance to shine.
The Princess and the Fangirl wonderfully captures the energy and chaos of convention life for both fans and guests. It’s a YA book with a lot of a heart. Moreover, it’s a great read for the fangirl (or boy!) in all of us. And don’t forget the most important thing – #SaveAmara.
The Princess and the Fangirl will be out April 2, 2019.