The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication date: 02 April 2019
Genre: Contemporary YA
Page count: 320 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
This review is spoiler-free for both Geekerella and The Princess and the Fangirl.
I loved Geekerella back in 2017, so I was thrilled to see that it was getting a companion novel. Although I’m not a huge fan of contemporary YA books, Poston’s convention romances are such fun reads and love letters to geek culture.
The Prince and the Pauper gets a Geekerella-style makeover in this witty and heartfelt novel for those who believe in the magic of fandom.
Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: to save her favorite Starfield character, Princess Amara, from being killed off. On the other hand, the actress who plays Amara wouldn’t mind being axed. Jessica Stone doesn’t even like being part of the Starfield franchise-and she’s desperate to leave the intense scrutiny of fandom behind.
Though Imogen and Jess have nothing in common, they do look strangely similar to one another-and a case of mistaken identity at ExcelsiCon sets off a chain of events that will change both of their lives. When the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, with all signs pointing to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. The deal: Imogen will play Jess at her signings and panels, and Jess will help Imogen’s best friend run their booth.
But as these “princesses” race to find the script leaker-in each other’s shoes-they’re up against more than they bargained for. From the darker side of fandom to unexpected crushes, Imogen and Jess must find a way to rescue themselves from their own expectations…and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.
The Princess and the Fangirl returns to the wonderful world ofExcelsicon, the convention based around the fictional TV show Starfield. We tend to think about world building as something that happens in science fiction or fantasy, however it is a technique for every story. You really get to see impressive world building in Poston’s contemporary books. The world of Excelsicon is so perfectly constructed– as a con-goer I’m very familiar with conventions and she really captures the spirit of conventions so well. From the panels and the vendors to the crazy fandoms and the cosplayers, reading about Excelsicon feels like you’re living it. It’s one of my favourite book settings, and I’d love to experience it in real life!
Although Excelsicon seems like lots of fun on the outside, like any convention it has its dark side. One of the things I love about Poston’s contemporary books is that she doesn’t shy away from tackling the toxicity of fandom and conventions. I think it would be a huge mistake to dismiss these books are all fluff — Poston addresses everything from sexual harassment to trolling and bullying in fandoms, and she clearly has some inspiration from real-life attacks on actresses via social media. As someone who no longer participates in fandoms because of their toxicity, I absolutely love that she doesn’t sweep this under the rug.
The Princess and the Fangirl alternates between two points of view — Jessica Stone, the actress who plays Princess Amara in the Starfield reboot, and Imogen, the Amara fan who is trying to save the character from being killed off. Imogen is a nice enough character, but I definitely preferred Jessica’s point of view. Through her eyes, we get a fascinating insight into what it’s like to be involved, especially as a woman, in the films and TV series that gain such a huge following. Jessica hates the Starfield fandom and doesn’t want to be in the films anymore, and with good reason. Seeing her experiences unfold on the page is eye-opening for both the characters in the story and the person reading it. I really loved the depth her character brings and how she grows over the course of the book.
The only thing that was a little lackluster for me was the romances. Both Imogen and Jessica get their own romance (although not with each other, as I had initially assumed, which isn’t a bad thing because they look so much alike and that would have been weird), but the romances were definitely on the back burner for the whole story. Because I came into the story expecting something more romance-focused like Geekerella, this was a little disappointing. I wouldn’t have cut anything else from the book but I would have maybe made it a bit longer to equally accommodate both romances and made them feel less rushed, especially the queer romance.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Princess and the Fangirl and am so pleased I ended up reading it. Another fresh and inventive fairytale retelling, Poston shines a spotlight on fandom that shows the good with the bad.
Want to buy The Princess and the Fangirl? You can pick up a copy here (affiliate links):