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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston (Geekerella) is an updated take on Mark Twain's The Prince and Pauper. In Poston's version, the main characters are Jessica Stone, the female lead of the hit sci-fi movie Starfield, and Imogen Lovelace, a high school girl who is a serious fan of the movie and the old TV show it's based on. Jessica wants out of her role as Princess Amara in the upcoming sequel. Imogen, on the other hand, has launched a "Save Amara" campaign, hoping to convince the movie studio to keep the character. When the look-alikes bump into each other at the ExcelsiCon convention, Imogen is mistaken for Jessica, which leads to the two intentionally switching places to solve a mystery. Swearing is infrequent ("s--t," "a--hole," "frakking" instead of "f--king"). There's one party with alcohol, but no one gets drunk, and there's no smoking or drugs. Romance figures largely in the plot. Characters discuss the hotness and desirability of other characters. There's some straight and same-sex kissing. A character comes out as gay. Though this is called "A Geekerella Fairy Tale," with characters and some plot points from Geekerella mentioned, it isn't necessary to have read that book to understand this one.
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What's the story?
THE PRINCESS AND THE FANGIRL brings the story of The Prince and the Pauper into modern times and places it squarely in the world of intense sci-fi fandom. Jessica Stone is one of the stars of the box office hit Starfield, but the popularity of the movie is a problem for her. The scrutiny and harassment that comes with the role of Princess Amara is too much too bear, and if she has to commit to sequels, her hopes of being a serious movie actress could fade away. The script for the next installment is coming out soon, and she's praying her character is really and truly dead. Imogen Lovelace is a lifelong Starfield fan, first of the old TV show and now of the rebooted movie franchise. She has an emotional attachment to Princess Amara and is mounting a petition campaign to have the movie studio save the character. When Imogen sneaks into a backstage bathroom at the ExcelsiCon convention, she accidentally ends up replacing Jessica on a convention panel. When the sequel script is leaked during the convention, Jessica fears the leaks will be blamed on her and convinces Imogen to switch places on purpose so that Jessica can track down the leaker without people knowing who she is. As the two enemies step into each other's roles, each gets to experience the good and bad of the other's life.
Is it any good?
This fairy tale update is cute and fun but ultimately feels hollow. The Princess and the Fangirl is similar in many ways to Ashley Poston's previous book, Geekerella, but it lacks the endearing quirk and charm. The characters are one-dimensional and hard to get invested in. For a story that happens over a weekend, the plot moves surprisingly slowly. The romances in the book are sweet and charming, though, and the reader can't help but root for Jessica and Imogen to work things out with their crushes.
The story is best when it is shines a spotlight on the good and bad sides of intense fandoms. A show with a devoted following can create a wonderful community where people can bond and share what inspires them. On the flip side are fans who feel they are owed certain casting decisions or show outcomes and decide to stalk, bully, and harass stars. Poston shows the ways in which female stars especially are victims of internet trolls and the toll the abuse can take on victims. Readers who enjoy light, escapist romance will enjoy this story, while readers who want deeper character development might find it lacking.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the healthy and unhealthy aspects of fandom, like Jessica experiences in The Princess and the Fangirl. What's the downside to passionate, vocal fandoms and how it affects the actors in a show or movie?
Have you ever been really into a book, movie, or TV series, only to be disappointed by a turn it took?
Have you made friends in an online community, like Imogen and Harper do in The Princess and the Fangirl? Would you ever want to meet them in real life? What precautions would you take when meeting up?
- Author: Ashley Poston
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Quirk Books
- Publication date: April 2, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: August 24, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.