I can see why Geekerella was so beloved upon release in 2017 – it is a charming remake of the fairy tale with an appropriate modern flavor. Relatable (if not very realistic) main leads make you want to root for them through the whole book despite the frustrations and adversity they encounter. Giving the “prince’ a POV helps humanize him and makes him even more interesting. The ‘geek’ aspect of both main characters having sci fi fandoms gives the book its true charm.
Story: Elle’s father was a sci fi nut – his favorite show being Starfield. He started a con to celebrate it in previous years and even met his wife, Elle’s mother, through cosplaying the characters. But after losing his wife, remarriage, and then eventual sudden death, that life was lost to Elle. Her stepmother always resented Starfield and how it took her husband away from her. And Elle has had to give up those warm memories of her parents in order to concetrate on helping her stepmother and two stepsisters climb the social ladder. Darien, meanwhile, has worked his way up through the showbiz ladder thanks to the efforts of his ambitious father. He’s been betrayed by those he thought friends and spends his life on the road. All Darien wants to do is go to Starfield cons and relax. But then he gets the chance of a lifetime – to play the lead in the Starfield reboot. This new series will change both Elle’s and Darien’s life as both find opportunities to change the situations in which they’ve found themselves.
Author Poston makes some smart choices in re-imagining the fairy tale: from ensuring that the step-relatives aren’t one-dimensional to also giving ‘prince’ Darien a whole backstory. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of a fairy tale like Cinderella is that we never got to know much about the prince and he remained an overidealized hero we could mold anyone into at whim. But by far for me, the best choice Poston made was to not make Darien caucasian (nor have the main character of Starfield be Caucasian and instead to have Indian heritage). These modernization touches help round out the story a bit more and give it more depth.
Some fairytales are used more as inspiration than source; in this case, it is very much a retelling rather than loosely taking aspects of the story. From the lost slipper, pumpkin coach (food truck), prince (the lead of Starfield is a prince), to a fairy godmother who ends up being a very unique best friend driving the pumpkin truck. It’s all there and all very clever. Even the two dresses (one that the character originally finds and is destroyed to one that is newly created) are there. I had to appreciate the amount of thought that went into recreating the Cinderella story.
Both characters of Darien and Elle are surprisingly likable. Sure, they are in no way realistic; especially Darien is so perfect that I didn’t want him described as so physically handsome. Rather, I wish he had played a part other than a “Baywatch” type soap opera role that required “abs that are insured.” The part about being a geek is that what defines you isn’t how you look so much as what you love. That was missing here when you create a main character that handsome.
I had a few nitpicks but in all, this was a charming story and a very enjoyable read. It’s also a cut above many YA romances in that it is clear a lot of inventiveness and love went into it creation. Yes, our main character is a Mary Sue – but such a fun one that you quickly forget that potential detraction and just enjoy the story. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.