THE PRINCESS AND THE FANGIRL

From the Once Upon a Con series , Vol. 2

A celebrity wants to be somebody else and a fan just wants to be somebody in this The Prince and the Pauper–inspired sequel to Geekerella (2017).

Having played Princess Amara in the movie reboot of cult sci-fi show Starfield, 19-year-old Jessica Stone is ready to move on to more serious roles. High schooler and self-proclaimed nobody Imogen Lovelace idolizes the independent space princess and is campaigning to #SaveAmara. When the look-alikes collide at the annual ExcelsiCon and switch places—a cinematic improbability acknowledged, then cheerfully exploited—each gains a new perspective on fandom. Jess revels in normality and hesitantly explores romance with Imogen’s online friend, Harper Hart. Imogen relishes the limelight and spars and sparks with Jess’ bodyguard, overly serious 17-year-old Ethan Tanaka. Interracial and same-sex relationships are central—Jess and Imogen are white, Harper is black and female, Ethan is Japanese-American, and Imogen has two moms and a gay brother—all befitting the inclusivity and gender-bending aspects of fandom, cosplay, and cons. Yet Poston (Heart of Iron, 2018, etc.) also ruthlessly dissects the dark side of science-fiction and fantasy pop culture: body-shaming, trolls, social media mobs, and sexual harassment. Sometimes, the best tales are the ones that transport audiences, not serious and philosophical but fun, light, and nerdy.

Unabashedly nerdtastic. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68369-096-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Exactly what the title promises.

BETTER THAN THE MOVIES

A grieving teen’s devotion to romance films might ruin her chances at actual romance.

Liz Buxbaum has always adored rom-coms, not least for helping her still feel close to her screenwriter mother, who died when she was little. Liz hopes that her senior year might turn into a real-life romantic fantasy, as an old crush has moved back to town, cuter and nicer than ever. Surely she can get Michael to ask her to prom. If only Wes, the annoying boy next door, would help her with her scheming! This charming, fluffy concoction manages to pack into one goofy plot every conceivable trope, from fake dating to the makeover to the big misunderstanding. Creative, quirky, daydreaming Liz is just shy of an annoying stereotype, saved by a dry wit and unresolved grief and anger. Wes makes for a delightful bad boy with a good heart, and supporting characters—including a sassy best friend, a perfect popular rival, even a (not really) evil stepmother—all get the opportunity to transcend their roles. The only villain here is Liz’s lovelorn imagination, provoking her into foolish lies that cause actual hurt feelings; but she is sufficiently self-aware to make amends just in time for the most important trope of all: a blissfully happy ending. All characters seem to be White by default.

Exactly what the title promises. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6762-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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THE PAPER GIRL OF PARIS

Passionate, impulsive Chloe and her popular older sister, Adalyn, were inseparable—until the Nazis invaded France in 1940 and Adalyn started keeping secrets.

Over half a century later, Alice, Chloe’s 16-year-old American granddaughter, has just inherited her childhood home in Paris. The fully furnished apartment has clearly been neglected for decades and raises more questions than it answers: Why didn’t Gram talk about her childhood? Who is the second girl in the photos throughout the apartment? Why didn’t Gram’s family return there after the war? Alice’s father is reluctant to discuss anything that might upset Alice’s mother, who’s still reeling from her mother’s death, so Alice decides to find answers on her own. What she eventually learns both shocks and heals her family. Chapters alternate between Alice’s and Adalyn’s voices, narrating Adalyn’s experience as a French Christian of the Nazi occupation and Alice’s attempts to understand what happened after the war. The girls’ stories parallel one another in significant ways: Each has a romance with a young Frenchman, each has a parent struggling with depression, and each must consider the lengths she would go to protect those she loves. Though at times feeling a bit rushed, Alice’s engaging contemporary perspective neatly frames Adalyn’s immersive, heartbreaking story as it slowly unfolds—providing an important history lesson as well as a framework for discussing depression. Alice and her family are white.

Gripping. (Historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-293662-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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