by Ashley Poston
This was the third book that I read for the #stayhomereadingrush, and I’ve got to say, by the end of this book my brain was feeling kinda mushy. So forgive me if this review gets a little off track.
I thought this book was about a girl attending a con, and by happenstance meeting her favorite celebrity crush. BOY was that not correct…but not too far off from the actual plot either. I was so pleasantly surprised to see that our main characters ended up interacting together via text messages about 15% of the way into the novel.
If you’ve followed my reviews, you may know that I die over multiple POV’s in any novel. This novel followed the POV of Elle and the POV of Darien. It was so cool to see both sides of the coin: the fangirl who was in it for the characters, and the actor who is struggling with his acceleration into fame.
This book truly was a love letter to fandom, and all the aspects of a fandom. I felt reminiscent Fangirl (by Rainbow Rowell) vibes while reading, but this novel took the extra leap by giving us insight into the actor’s side of things. This book spoke on what it meant to discover life lessons through a T.V. show, and how being yourself doesn’t mean that you’re going to be alone. There was a really beautiful moment where Elle was being bullied, and everyone in the room had her back, simply because she was one of them.
I also didn’t realize going in that this was a Cinderella retelling? And I feel like a complete idiot for not putting that together sooner? I was scathing mad at the stepmother and stepsisters for most of the book, but kept telling myself I knew this would have a happy ending if it was keeping true to the Disney original. However, I don’t know if I loved the retelling aspect as much as I should. I thought Elle and Darien were strong enough characters to compel this plot past the fairy tale, and kept waiting for them to completely take over. I understand how the fairy tale created some of the magic of the story, but my mind kept asking, what would Elle and Darien do without it?
The romance that builds up through this novel is incredibly sweet and believable. What I liked about it was that it wasn’t simple or straightforward. They both had a lot to work through before they were able to come together, and I loved seeing them grow in their own ways. Obviously, because this is a Cinderella retelling, this story deals with the death of both of Elle’s parents, and I really was rooting for her as I watched her character grow into her own person beyond the grief.
I think I was, once again, more infatuated with the male character POV. It was nice to be reminded of what actors are going through on the other side of the fandom. They are creating the content for us, some of them are like us (aka the biggest fans ever), and some of them are just in it for themselves. It was wonderful to watch Darien struggle to find and hold onto his “why” during filming, and to see how his growth as a character so naturally mirrored Elle’s own growth.
I would read a whole series just about Elle and Darien, so I could watch them explore their happier ever after.