Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Length: 320 pages
Series: Once Upon a Con, Book 2
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT, Retelling
Publication date: April 2, 2019
Minerva cracks open an eye when she hears us approach. “Ah, so my prodigious progeny returns,” she purrs, although there’s only one prodigious child between us, and it’s not me. “Did you save the world or did you get lost?”
“Both?” I glance at Milo.
“Both,” he agrees.
“Both is good,” we say together.
(Ch. 4 (Imogen), p. 43)
Imogen Lovelace is your typical fangirl on a mission to save her favourite character from being killed off. The problem is the actress playing her doesn’t want to reprise her role. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, Jessica Stone will consider her career derailed.
When a case of mistaken identity throws Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. Yet when the script for the Starfield sequel gets leaked, all signs point to Jess and she must turn to Imogen to find the person responsible. As these “princesses” race to find the script leaker, they need to learn how to rescue themselves from their own expectations and learn what it means to live happily ever after.
My first thought when I started reading this book was that Geekerella could have lived forever as a standalone and I would’ve been happy. I’m more than happy to say that Poston changed my mind on this and I found myself enjoying this read. Sure I didn’t love it as much as I adored Geekerella when it first came out, but I’m always happy to fangirl with others. Since Anime North – the convention in Toronto, Ontario I go to every year with my best friend – was cancelled this year due to quarantine, I gladly jumped into this fantastical convention in its place.
I knew I was going into this read with a favourite retelling of The Prince and the Pauper so I tried not to judge this read too harshly. (If you’re curious, yes Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper is still the best retelling of this story to be made.) I’ll be the first to admit that I couldn’t help but compare the two retellings from time to time, though I tried not to let this taint my experience in this story.
Overall I found The Princess and the Fangirl to be an enjoyable read. It’s not the most poetic or scholarly read I’ve ever read, but it doesn’t try to be. This book promises a fun read with a lot of nerdy stuff thrown into the mix and that’s exactly what it delivers. If you go into this read expecting a fun, nerdy read you won’t be disappointed.
This book covers a wide variety of fandoms and I was excited to see one of – if not my top – favourite fandoms represented throughout this story. If you’ve read the story and are wondering who that character with the umbrella is that’s mentioned, I would highly recommend you check out The Adventure Zone by the McElroy family. This is my favourite podcast of all time (but all of their podcasts are great) and so far two graphic novels have been released based on the events of this story – Here There Be Gerblins (review here) and Murder on the Rockport Limited (review here). I was absolutely thrilled to find all the hidden nods to this series thrown in.
In fact, my favourite nods to fandoms were the ones that Poston threw in subtly. While most of the fandoms were simply mentioned – Harry Potter, Yu Gi Oh!, etc – it was nice to see more subtle nods in the story. That being said, I would have loved a list of fandoms to be at the end of the book. The nerd in me would love to have seen the list and given the chance to go through the book as a sort of scavenger hunt of nerdom.
I could continue to gush forever about the fandoms mentioned in this story, but that’s not the main point of this story. If you know the story of The Prince and the Pauper then you know the bare bones of this story. The characters and the meat of the story are what make it unique.
I believe that Poston did a great job at making this story its own. It stands apart from the other retellings of this story I’ve read – not only because it’s a modern retelling or because it’s got a nerdy twist to it, either. Poston put life into this story and made it her own.
“Hey! Monster! You wouldn’t believe what just happened!” he shouts again.
I glance around to see if anyone is responding.
No, no they are not.
That leaves only one possibility.
The girl selling plushies looks at me and says, “I think he means you.”
“I was afraid of that,” I reply. Imogen definitely didn’t tell me about him, or the person with him – ebony skinned, slender and waspish, dressed in a half cape and pointed witch’s hat, an umbrella resting on his shoulder. He’s cosplaying as someone, but hell if I know who.
(Ch. 11 (Jess), p. 109)
TAAKO! HE’S DRESSED AS TAAKO!! WOOHOO!!!!
I know I’ve mentioned it already, but I was thrilled to find out that Poston has listened to The Adventure Zone: Balance. This paragraph is a shoutout to how amazing this podcast is – the whole thing, not just the Balance arc. If you enjoy D&D, role playing, or fantasy, I’d highly recommend checking it out. You don’t have to like all these things, but I’m certain there’s something in this story that you’re going to love.
Ahem. Now onto the actual review.
One of the issues I had at the beginning of the story was telling Jess and Imogen apart. Don’t get me wrong, it clears itself up further in. But the first little bit I was confused at times. Jess was supposed to hate the nerdy things going on around her, yet she made references to fandoms. Yes these references might have been to herself, but they were still made. For someone who’s vocal about hating nerdy things, she easily made references to them.
That aside, I enjoyed seeing both Imogen and Jess come into their own. I can relate to both of these girls feeling like you’re not enough. Whether it’s feeling like you’re in your sibling’s shadow or trying to live up to your own expectations of yourself, it’s hard to see yourself the way others see you.
It was quite sweet seeing the romances flourish in this story. Imogen got her enemies to lover arc with Ethan. It might be cliche, but it was great. Jess got her adorable slow burn romance with Harper, even though she almost screwed it up with the lie.
While not the main reason that I picked up this story to read, I adored that there was such a sweet lesbian romance in this story. It was a complete fluke for me to read this story during Pride month, but I’m glad that I did. I adored that this wasn’t a hidden relationship, either. I also adored Bran and Milo’s relationship. They supported each other and their likes above all else, cared for each others’ happiness. This is how every relationship should be, even though it seems to be more rare than that.
I also enjoyed putting the clues together, even when Imogen and Jess were so set on the culprit. Amon was supposed to be taking care of Natalia’s hairless cat in the same spot the second clue was released. He was the only one late for the panel when the third page of the script was released. Vance might be a douche of epic proportions, but he’s also not smart enough to think up something like that on the fly. Besides, there’s no way such a vain person as him would be caught dead digging trash out of a garbage can.
It’s true that this isn’t my favourite retelling of The Prince and the Pauper of all time, but it was an enjoyable one. Poston did a great job at making this a fun retelling of a classic tale. Whereas before I wasn’t sure I’d continue on with this series, I now look forward to seeing what else this world has to offer. Starting with Bookish and the Beast this August.