Author: Ashley Poston
Publisher: Quirk Books
Release date: 4 April 2017
I really enjoyed this modern and nerdy retelling of Cinderella. It had everything from cosplays to cons to fangirling/fanboying moments to sparks flying between nerds – all mixed with a food truck (the pumpkin carriage), a punk girl and lesbian named Sage (the fairy godmother) and glass slippers which are part of a cosplay. Is your fangirl heart beating fast? Mine is.
The tale goes: Elle escapes from her miserable life with her stepmother and stepsisters through a scifi show Starfield. It’s the way of life and it’s something that she treasures with her late father. She’s determined to honour his and her mother’s memories by participating in a cosplay contest at ExcelsiCon which her dad founded. In between creating her costume and saving up for the con, she develops a text-based bond with a mysterious guy under the name Carmindor (the name of the main character from Starfield) and she also blasts out her opinion on the Starfield movie and lead actor Darien, a heartthrob.
Playing Carmindor is Darien’s dream and he meets backlash especially from Elle (anonymously). He’s determined to prove that he’s serious and worthy for the role. Meanwhile he falls for a mysterious fangirl he’s been texting…all things come to a chaotic showdown at the con and cosplay ball…
Elle carries an emotional depth, much deeper than previous Cinderellas (besides Danielle from Ever After of course) in my opinion, and shows the effects of child abuse. While I wanted her to stand up for herself, I understood that she was just a teen and had been emotionally beaten down for years. Finding the strength to face your abusers is hard – something that resonates with me as someone with anxiety and finding solace in fiction.
I love Darien, the co-protagonist and a PoC (yay!). Not only is he a heartthrob actor, he’s a fanboy himself. Like Elle, he has family/relationship issues and struggles through the hurdles thrown at him by his father.
As for the stepmother and stepsister (there are two but one turns out to be good), they don’t get much of a backstory or character development, but that’s fine because sometimes villains don’t deserve to be sympathised.
A must-read retelling, this book is a love letter to us fangirls and fanboys. It doesn’t matter that an introvert or geek developing a relationship with a celeb is far fetched. I didn’t doubt Elle and Darien for a second.
Aim. Ignite. Let your nerd shine.