“We’re all geeks here.”
I picked this book up with no expectations and was pleasantly surprised. First of all, I liked the dog, Franco, and I am not a dog person. Not like, like liked the dog, but we can keep him, yanno? He is tolerable enough to get treats periodically and roll around. Initially I felt bad for the conditions he was living in but that concern soon turned into, ‘Buddy’s living the life after all, huh?’ when he gets refuge in the food truck.
Before I dive into it completely, I need to gush about the actual book itself; not just the plot. The paperback has got some serious weight unlike most of the other paperbacks and it feels so good to touch. Not to forget, the pages.. oh, the pages! I am absolutely in love with the paper used– so opaque, so smooth, so white, so thick. Even if the plot were boring (which I assure you, it totally isn’t) I would have loved the book just for these things.
I read a couple of chapters after first receiving it, getting to know how a normal day in the lives of Elle and Darien respectively goes. I got caught up in the stuff of another fandom so I had to put it down to resume later. But once I woke up the next day (it was almost evening), the neon green bookmark inside of the sleek book called out to me and I got started. The pages turned so swiftly once I got really into the book and I didn’t know when it was time for supper (partly because the table clock isn’t working). Mostly that happened because of the classic ‘just one more chapter’ excuse, which had me finishing the rest (most) of the book in one sitting because of the perfect bite-sized chapters, as I like to call them. They are short enough that you feel the need to read one more, but not long enough that you’ll want to take a break at any certain point.
Now to talk about the plot. It was a cute read, but in a grand sort of way. The title not so subtly alludes to the fact that it’s a Cinderella retelling, and the main character is a geek. It started off with a fellow fangirl, Elle (short for Danielle) being completely upset over the person who’s been casted as her favourite character, Prince Carmindor from Starfield (haven’t we all felt the same at some point of our lives? Though I’m not in the fandom yet, I’ve heard the Percy Jackson and the Olympians movies were more than disappointing for the fans). But that’s just the tip of the iceberg– the plot has a lot more content than that, and it’s very spell-binding. There was this specific line where I snickered delightedly, when Elle says she slammed on the end button so hard she thought she fractured her finger (for context, she’d never talked to Car aka Darien over the phone and he’d just said “Hello” after Sage called him from her phone).
I will try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but knowing me, even trying will probably be a futile attempt (I’ve already mentioned a couple). Here goes nothing. I hate Catherine and Chloe. I didn’t completely despise Cal from the beginning, but I wasn’t all ‘you go, gurl’ about her either. I started full-on detesting Chloe when she destroyed the Prince Carmindor costume, crown, and ExcelsiCon tickets. From there, I was like, “Oh goodness, you’re dead meat from now on. Why are you still alive?” before I remembered that this wasn’t a fantasy novel where random deaths of characters are perfectly normal. But let’s not sour our mood by talking about her; let’s talk about Sage. Can we talk about how badass she is? Breaking rules to fulfil the dream of your friend, helping her alter her costume, making her an entire crown from scratch? I know I’ve got the entire order wrong but heck if I care! I don’t care how horrendously fast she drives that pumpkin of a van and how green it makes Darien in the face riding it, but that girl’s it, man! Sage is one of the best best-friend characters I’ve ever read, and I’m positive she’ll make an awesome fashion designer someday. Also, I do ship Sage and Cal (who thought Cal would have a decent character arc, hmm?)
What do I say about Darien? He wasn’t this perfect, flawless Prince Charming but an awkward, dorky, and realistic teen, whom I completely adored. It was such a refreshing change. All through the while I sort of liked him and thought he was cute and shy, and really nerdy (which is a very good thing in my dictionary), but when he defended Elle in front of Chloe at the Cosplay Ball? I loved him from that very moment. He started being brave and taking matters into his own hands thereafter– that was hella amazing, when he fired Mark and promoted Gail; both of them deserved their respective fates. And when he decided to frak everything and just go after his girl? Hell yeah, Elle had to take him back– I was rooting for him, after all!
The whole novel went by as a sort of breeze, yanno… like a dream. But it was so much more than that, so much better than that. It showed us a hidden side of the life of actors, one we rarely get to glimpse. It described just how much a celebrity can differ from their “on-screen” life, how much more that there is to them; not just the characters they portray. It shows you how much stress you can relieve if you have someone to talk to. It showed that you don’t always have to be alone; you can let people in, trust them, and show them pieces of yourself which you’ve been hiding away for so long. It reminds readers of how much friends matter in life, no matter what narrow-minded fake people like Catherine think– it’s not the colour of your hair-dye or haircut or piercings or orientation of a person that matters, but the heart of the person, to be a good friend, like Sage. It tells how it’s never too late to stand up for yourself and stop following around ‘popular’ people, like Calliope. Also, it’s not blood that decides who’s family, but the bond. Clearly Gail and Lonny were more of a family to Dare than Mark ever was, and that’s not even the half of it.
In the blurb, the book is described as “Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, GEEKERELLA is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom,” and I couldn’t agree more. It has captured the perfect feeling of being absorbed in a fantasy world, a fandom so much that it begins to become a huge part of you, who you are, how you are. It has captured the soul of a true fangirl flawlessly and that’s no small feat. It was most definitely a modern-day fairy tale, not entirely following the same pattern as countless other Cinderella retellings, but with a nice little twist of its own, which I totally appreciated. Additionally, this is one of the few times when my favourite characters aren’t automatically the main characters, i.e. Sage. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love Elle and wholly dote on Dare, but that girl’s something.
This book is for everyone who loves fictional characters, and for everyone who still carries hope for a better world in the darkest of times.
This book is for everyone out there who feels out of place everywhere but in the presence of fellow people from your fandom. It is for those people who think nothing ever goes right in their life, as if it follows Murphy’s law in every turn; those who are misunderstood and underestimated because of their age; those who feel powerless to rebel against elders when they’re wrong, out of respect and fear; those who feel all alone in this whole wide world with no one who cares for them; and for those whose parents who feel you can’t learn anything about the “real world” from fantasy.
A splendid comparison regarding that very last point can be found in the book itself: Catherine and Wynona, moms to Elle and Sage respectively.
So if you’re ever feeling suffocated in life, need a light-hearted read, identify as one of the someones I’ve listed above, or even none of that but just want a good book recommendation, then go devour this piece in one sitting and sport a smile for a long while. It’ll have you gushing for its cuteness whilst simultaneously reflecting upon its depth.
You can also read this review on The Ruskin Journal!
Image Courtesy: Soyeenka Mishra
Location: Bhubaneswar, India