Narrator: Caitlin Davies, Eileen Stevens, Emily Lawrence
Published on 2 April 2019
Genres: Contemporary, United States, Young Adult
Source: my local library
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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.
Having loved Geekerella, I dove straight into The Princess and the Fangirl hoping for more of the same.
I have to say, I was a little disappointed.
I absolutely loved the Con setting, I loved the characters of Jess and Imogen, and even the people around them like Imogen’s brother Milo and his boyfriend, her internet friend Harper, and Jess’s assistant Ethan, all who were now dealing with a complete stranger. I liked their complicated relationships. And of course, I loved everything Starfield. I mean, I want that IP to be a real thing.
However I mostly struggled with the basic plot of the book. While it has a very attractive elevator pitch – Princess and the Pauper but at a Comicon-like convention – it didn’t really play out as well.
Jess the “princess’ wanted to disguise herself as Imogen the ‘pauper’ so she could find who was leaking spoilers from a script she thought she was responsible for losing. Imogen agreed to play Jess at panels and meet and greets because she had her own agenda.
But there was very little actual action to propel the plot forward.
It mostly consisted of Jess wondering who could be the script leaker and thinking about Starfield and its fandom – not about how much she hated it, because she didn’t. In fact, Jess’s character growth was a real benefit to the novel. But her investigation skills were not. Because all she could do was react to social media pictures and try to guess where the leaker was at the time of the picture being posted. But even if she did identify the area, it’s not like people post exactly where they are or hang around afterwards. The leaker could have been anywhere in the building a post a picture they took two days ago. Jess’s plan was pointless and quit frankly it was boring, too.
The thing that kept me going was Imogen’s agenda to #saveAmara. Imogen agreed to swap with Jess because unlike Jess, Imogen wanted Amara in the Starfield sequel. Imogen thought she could say things at panels to somehow get Amara into the sequel, and I was really looking forward to seeing her do this… except it never happened. Imogen spent most of her time with Jess’s annoyingly antagonistic assistant. She thought a lot about saving Amara but took very little action to achieve this.
Most of the book was introspection, developing romances, some dealings with the good and bad sides of the Starfield fandom, and thinking about how to achieve both their goals with barely any action taken to actually achieve their goals. Oh, and banter. Lots and lots of banter.
It’s like the idea was so good, but then no one – not the author nor the characters – had any idea how to go about getting what they wanted.
And the climax was so weird! Jess stole a dress because reasons, then everyone went to a party.
And Poston’s writing is really good, so it hurts me to write this criticism. I loved all the commentary on fandoms, and how supportive and toxic it can be, and how sexist and misogynistic it can be as well. But I really do think my disappointment is down to the basic plot and the characters unable to really do anything to progress their goals.