Themes: Fandom, Stardom, Romance
Audience: Young Adult
Publisher: Quirk Books
Released: April 2, 2019
Having enjoyed Geekerella so much, I couldn’t wait to dive into this second novel in Ashley Poston’s Once Upon a Con series, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed! Set exclusively during ExcelsiCon, the fictional convention where the main action of the previous book takes place, The Princess and the Fangirl has all the fun and sci-fi geekiness I was expecting. Add into the mix a sweet love story between two girls and an opposites-attract het romance, and what you end up with is pure, escapist entertainment.
This was one of those books in which I didn’t especially like the protagonists at the start, but where they grew on me as the story unfolded. In the beginning, Imogen somewhat got on my nerves. She struck me as self-absorbed, focused solely on saving her favourite character from Starfield, Princess Amara, without sparing a thought for the actress playing her. Jess, on the other hand, came across as cool and a little snobbish, dismissing Starfield and its fandom as a mere blip in her acting career.
Yet, when the girls trade places and step outside their everyday lives, their personalities take on greater depth. While wearing Jess’s shoes, Imogen discovers the uglier side to her beloved fandom, and realises that, behind the character of Princess Amara, lies a real person with real dreams and feelings. Meanwhile, masquerading as Imogen, Jess becomes immersed in the fun and shared passion of ExcelsiCon, and finally comprehends why her character means so much to so many.
Even before I looked her up, I was certain Ashley Poston must be a huge fangirl herself. She possesses such a deep understanding of fandom and what it is to love a fantasy world so much that you care intensely about every aspect of that world and its inhabitants. Her descriptions of the whole ExcelsiCon experience—the cosplay, the interview panels, all the stores selling merchandise—are so vibrant and alive. I truly feel as though I’ve been there myself, despite never having attended a convention in my life!
What impressed me most about this series, first in Geekerella and again in The Princess and the Fangirl, was the sheer level of imagination. The author has created an entire science fiction franchise, Starfield, around which the Once Upon a Con novels are based. Not only does Starfield have its own characters and storylines, there are also individual episode titles, warring factions, and a signature salute. As a staunch Harry Potter fan myself, this attention to detail totally blew me away.
For a super fun read with a vivid setting, some wonderful character development, and a massive dollop of geekiness, The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston gets 9/10 rainbows.
About the Book
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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About Ashley Poston
Ashley Poston loves dread pirates, moving castles, and starry night skies.
Her books have been on the Indie Next List multiple times, and have been featured in Teen Vogue, Seventeen, Entertainment Weekly, Hypable, and Buzzfeed, among others. She has also been a Goodreads Choice Finalist in 2017 for Geekerella, and a semi-finalist for The Princess and the Fangirl in 2019. She also has a critically-acclaimed space opera series, the Heart of Iron duology, which was named on 2019’s Rainbow List.
When not writing, she can be found playing Dungeons and Dragons and writing fanfic. She lives in South Carolina with her bossy cat, and they are firm believers that we’re all a bunch of weirdos looking at other weirdos, asking for their username.