by Ashley Poston
Series: Once Upon a Con #2
Published on April 2, 2019 by Quirk Books
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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.
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It’s been days since I finished The Princess and the Fangirl and I’m still struggling to find the words to describe this book. I rarely read contemporary, especially young adult, but when I find a series or author I like, I go hard. After reading Geekerella, I knew Ashley Poston was going to be one of those authors.
First and foremost, this book made my fandom heart happy. I’d be hard-pressed to find several pages WITHOUT geeky references and it was perfect. I read part of this while waiting for my car to be inspected and it was a struggle not to giggle with delight (and I don’t giggle. . . like ever) as I was reading. As it was, I kept getting weird looks for my facial expressions.
Poston has a way of writing a story that grounds you in the world immediately. It helps that it’s set in our world, but she brings a made-up sci-fi con to live. I’ve never been to a convention of any kind but I could feel the energy come off the page.
As she brought this world to life, the story progressed from more than a fangirl attending a con and an actress trying to survive it. I saw the best of fandom life. . . and the worst. How negative people can be when it comes to something they love, but also how supportive. It was all captured in this one book and really made me think about book fandoms and how you get both sides from those interactions too. I couldn’t NOT relate to this book.
I was so happy with the Prince and the Pauper re-telling, and how the spoiled “princess” Jess was given strengths and flaws that came out over the course of the story. I think a lot of this book played on personal perception. How one character saw another based on a limited experience, and how that view isn’t the full picture. It became an even stronger theme when Jess and Imogen swapped places. And Imogran was certainly not perfect either but I felt I could relate to her more from the fan side of things. Her passion for the characters of Starfield was so strong that I wish Starfield existed so I could fangirl alongside her.
In general, this book is just GOOD. Like I can’t say anything bad about it. At all. The writing is fantastic. The characters are interesting and diverse and relatable (not always likable, but relatable with their flaws which I think is an important distinction). The story is paced well and fun! You get to go to a sci-fi con for a few hundred pages!
Side note, but I appreciated the cameo from the Geekerella characters and while I wish they had a BIT more page time, part of me is also glad they didn’t because this is a true companion novel. You don’t need to read Geekerella first (though I totally recommend it too).
I don’t even know what else to say about The Princess and the Fangirl. Isn’t that always the case, when you love a book SO MUCH you can’t put it into words? So it’s safe to say that I absolutely recommend this book, and the first in the series, and I cannot wait for more from Ashley Poston!