Adaptations of Disney movies have never been my cup of tea. I’ve always believed any remake or twist on the original story feels contrived. But every now and again, I come across a book or film that adapts one of these fairy tales, usually with a modern flair, and does so beautifully. Ashley Poston’s Geekerella succeeded in this department by creating a story that, instead of going south with unrealistic, over-the-top characters and plot, was fluffier and sweeter than even the original Cinderella movie.
This contemporary novel is filled with Instagram, Snapchat, and fandoms galore. Danielle (or Elle, as she’s called) lives with her abusive stepmother, Catherine, and her two evil stepsisters, Calliope and Chloe. She’s been a fan of Starfield from a young age after her late father got her obsessed with it. And Starfield’s being remade into a big-budget Hollywood movie starring teen heartthrob Darien Freeman. Despite her dislike for the seemingly vapid Darien, Elle enters a cosplay competition to score tickets to see the Starfield actor in person, along with entry to the film’s worldwide premiere and the fanbase’s renowned convention, ExcelsiCon.
Part of the reason why this book appeals to so many people, including myself, is that Poston focused more on making tribute to geeky fandoms rather than the well-known story of Cinderella. While there were several similarities to the original Cinderella fairy tale (Elle’s family life, for example), none of these felt forced or repetitive – Poston incorporates her own flair into her characters.
It’s also evident that Poston herself is a huge geek and that she has experience with the love and passion that geeky communities have for their respective interests. This experience worked its way into the novel, creating passion and excitement into the story that the audience would be able to feel while reading it.
She was also able to handle heavy subject matter in a way that was respectful of her audience while keeping the story super light and sweet. Emotional abuse is a key element of Cinderella adaptations, and handling the topic delicately is something that should be on the top of every writer’s priority list. It’s a testament to Poston’s incredible writing skill that she’s able to handle this topic in a way that’s appropriate for teenage audiences. Neither the abuse nor Elle’s suffering was glorified in any way, which is vital when writing for young audiences.
The strong female friendship between Elle and her coworker, Sage, was another one of my favorite parts. While both girls have distinctive personalities, they still care for each other deeply and their friendship is instrumental in moving the plot along.
While this story is centered around a heterosexual romance, Geekerella is unlike many YA novels in that female relationships are not only valued, but are important to the main plot. It’s always refreshing to see platonic and romantic relationships valued together equally and not pitted against each other.
As I mentioned before, Geekerella’s sweetness is one of the key aspects that defines the novel – and also, I suspect, what draws a lot of readers in. Part of the reason why the story’s fluffiness succeeds so well has to do with the original nature of the book. By basing it on Cinderella, Poston eliminated many elements of surprise we would normally have reading a novel. Because we already knew the plot’s basic skeleton, readers are left not with feelings of mystery and intrigue, but with warmness and happiness towards the likable, three-dimensional characters. And I think that might ultimately be my favorite part of the book: we’re not left with many worries about the plot or the characters’ fates, and we can instead just enjoy the book for how adorable and cute it is.
While I would recommend this book to anyone who’s in need of a fluffy read, the target demographic is definitely lower young adult, and it’s also the group of people that I could see enjoying Geekerella the most. I also enjoyed the novel because I found myself relating to a lot of Elle and Darien’s experiences with geek culture, and I know many other readers did, too. Soif you’re also a geeky person, I highly recommend giving Geekerella a shot.
4 out of 5 stars
Geekerella is available now at bookstores everywhere.
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