Bookish and the Beast: Once Upon a Con, Book 3

Book review by
Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media
Bookish and the Beast: Once Upon a Con, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Cute, modern, but bland take on "Beauty and the Beast."

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Some science fiction books and authors discussed. A look at the downside of celebrity.

Positive Messages

Healthy relationships of any kind are built on honesty and trust. Don’t assume you know what people are going through. It's OK to make mistakes. Admitting them and learning from them is an important part of personal growth. Practice forgiveness. Putting up walls around yourself doesn't make you strong, it mostly leads to loneliness.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Rosie is a smart, strong, caring girl. Friends Quinn and Annie are supportive of her. Vance is moody, often rude, but is covering up his own emotional issues and grows as a character. The adults are caring, loving toward the kids. Aside from Vance's uncle, who is Latinx, other characters are presented as White. Quinn is nonbinary, and a few other characters are bisexual, but they're not the focus of the story. 


A teen boy frequently harasses Rosie, mostly by refusing to take no for an answer when he asks her out. Characters fall and get mildly injured. A character gets a nose bleed when accidentally hit in the face with a door. A fight between three characters, with some punches, kicking, pushing.


Romance is the main focus, so lots of talk about love, attraction, the sexiness of characters. A couple of erection and masturbation jokes, a few descriptive scenes of kissing and making out.


Some strong language, but not frequent, including "butt," "d--kweed," "s--t," "ass," "hell," "a--hole," "balls," and British swear words "bloody," "shite," and "fecking." "God," "Jesus," and "Christ" used as exclamations.


Brands and media mentioned for scene setting, including Pokémon, GameBoy, GoPro, iPad, YouTube, TikTok, Tumblr, Reddit, Ford, Tesla, TMZ, Twizzlers, and Starbucks.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bookish and the Beast, by Ashley Poston (Geekerella and The Princess and the Fangirl), is a modern version of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. The beauty is Rosie, a sci-fi-loving teen girl, and the beast is Vance, a bad-boy British teen actor who is starring in Rosie's favorite movie franchise. Vance is sent to Rosie's town to lie low after yet another high-profile scandal, and through a series of mishaps, the two end up spending a lot of time together. Of course, they irritate each other to no end at first, but then the fairy tale takes its natural course. The story is a romance, so expect lots of talk about attraction and some kissing and making out. There's some strong language ("s--t," "hell," and "God"), little violence, and no drinking or substance use. The book offers discussion opportunities around the downsides of being a celebrity and what happens when we judge people without knowing them. 

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byThalia Grace November 9, 2020

Super Sweet!!

It had so many good characters, and such a good main relationship, which even though I was rooting for others more still made me kind of happy and like "YE... Continue reading

What's the story?

In Bookish and the Beast, bad-boy teen actor and tabloid fodder Vance Reigns is sent to live in a small town after yet another publicity disaster. The idea is to keep him out of trouble and out of the spotlight for a time. Rosie, a teen girl who lives in the town, is a huge fan of the Starfield book, TV, and movie franchise, and Vance stars in the newest movie. Rosie finds herself in the huge castle-like house where Vance is living and ends up destroying a rare and valuable Starfield book. Because she and her dad can't afford to reimburse the owner for the damaged book, she agrees to work off the debt by organizing and cataloging the house's extensive sci-fi book collection. Vance is supposed to help her, but he's too busy moping about his exile and is too irritated by Rosie to actually be helpful. Complicating Rosie's life is Garrett, a popular classmate who refuses to take no for an answer when he publicly asks Rosie to homecoming multiple times. The story follows the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, in that Rosie and Vance don't get along at first, but they eventually let their guards down so that each can see the other's true nature.

Is it any good?

This modern take on Beauty and the Beast is a light confection of a story but is lackluster overall. Readers who love the two other books in the Once Upon a Con series will likely enjoy Bookish and the Beast, too. Everything is there: the meet-cute, the misunderstood handsome bad-boy, the fighting that ultimately sparks respect and romance, and the big romantic finale. Those looking for deeper plot and character development will be disappointed.

This installment of the series is missing some of the depth of the previous two. Yes, these are fairy tales, so the reader knows to suspend disbelief, but even so, the setup in Bookish and the Beast feels especially forced. When the reader knows the story's outcome, as most do with fairy tales, the author has to work a little harder to create great characters, settings, and dialogue to keep the reader engaged, and Poston does only a so-so job on that front. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about books and movies that are new versions of old stories, in the way Bookish and the Beast is the story Beauty and the Beast in a modern setting. Do you connect to the story better if the language and locations are more current? Do you think anything gets lost in the update?

  • Have you ever judged someone based on what you've heard about them or how their life looks from the outside? Have others judged you this way? Have you ever been wrong about your assumptions?

  • Are you a part of a fandom, for movies, books, or games? Have you connected with other fans and become friends with them because of it? Do you think fandoms can be too rabid sometimes?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romance and fairy tales

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