Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Our Score

A Fairy Tale Retelling Set in the World of Geek Culture and Cons

A Cinderella retelling for fans of geek culture. Cinderella has always been one of my favorite fairy tales. I remember seeing it in the theatre as a little girl. The 2015 version ranks as one of my top three all-time favorite movies. Geekerella is a retelling set in the world of science fiction fandoms.

I’m also a geek or rather GEKE. Literally, those are my initials, so I absolutely, no questions asked, had to read (or in this case listen to) Geekerella.

Synopsis

Danielle (Elle) is an orphan being raised by her stepmother and twin step sisters. They’re country club popular girls and pretty. Their summers are filled with tennis lessons and lunches at the club. Elle works in a vegan food truck painted like a giant pumpking with the eccentric Sage and writes a blog about the science fiction cult hit Starfield, a show that connects Elle to her late parents.

Darien is best known for his hot body and the character he plays on a teen soap opera. But under his buff exterior beats the heart of a geek who escapes his overbearing father, a fixture among the Hollywood elite and his absentee socialite mother.

Darien is cast as Federation Prince Carmindor in the Starfield reboot. On a morning show, he throws the answer to a trivia question so he can be dunked in a dunk tank and rip off his shirt. He is angry about how he’s being portrayed and refuses to do a “meet and greet” at an upcoming convention. In anger, he texts the venue coordinator, Elle’s late father. Elle, who has inherited her dad’s phone receives his texts.

Elle and Darien survive their very different summers through an ongoing relationship through texts focused around their mutual love of Starfield with neither one knowing the other’s identity. The story unwinds with classic Cinderella elements, in this case destroyed cosplay costumes and a leaky attic. But add the drama of a Hollywood set and gives nearly equal time to the prince’s story, not unlike the 2015 movie that shows more of Kit’s life along with Ella’s.

Pros

  • It’s a fun and funny twist on the classic fairytale
  • Individuality and “being yourself” are treated as virtues
  • The characters evolve and learn to stand up for themselves
  • There’s a strong message about standing up for others
  • Elle and Darien both learn to overcome their fears
  • The characters are fun and unique
  • There is no sexual content; nothing beyond hand holding and kissing
  • Violence is limited to punches and movie stunts
  • Elle and Darien for the most part honor their unreasonable step-parents/parents and generally show respect to other adults who don’t reciprocate

Cons

  • There is some swearing. I’m not one to really count up instances but maybe in the dozen range of objectionable words like s***. There may some inappropriate uses of God’s name but if so, it’s not frequent
  • A couple of the supporting characters are homosexual, which may be offensive to some; they don’t do anything more than hold hands
  • It is implied that 18-year-old Darien sips/drinks a glass of champagne in celebration
  • The characters sneak around parents and lie
  • From a craft standpoint, I thought the tension between Elle and her stepmother wasn’t developed enough. The same with Darien and his absentee mother. There were some hints that maybe there was more to her dad’s story but then it pulled back. A couple of other back stories didn’t feel fully developed either
  • One of the things about Darien and Federation Prince Carmindor was that they were people of color; I personally found it frustrating that there was no hint beyond that he had dark curly hair and brown skin. Maybe that was the point, but I would have liked to have known a bit more about his ethnic heritage so I could better picture him. The same for Elle. I could have sworn she made a comment she was overweight at the beginning of the story and nothing more was mentioned of her size other than she is short. Ditto with her glasses. I’m not sure her much-needed glasses are mentioned until the later chapters.

Discussion Questions

  1. Do you have a favorite fandom?
  2. Would it bother you if a “pretty boy” or “it girl” were cast in roles you see reserved for “true fans”?
  3. What do you think about how Elle and Darien handled having difficult and often unreasonable parents?
  4. Would you rather have Elle or Darien’s life?
  5. Did Cal’s evolution surprise you?
  6. If you could go to a con, who would you dress up as?
  7. What do you think Elle and Darien look like?

Conclusion

Geekerella is a humorous retelling and a light YA read I’d recommend to teens who love fairy tale retellings and/or geek culture. The book was written in 2017 and is on point with the current culture. However, I think this book will be dated fairly soon. I give the book 3.7 stars. It’s not quite an awesome 4 or 5 star book but is one I’d consider checking out of the library again to listen to. What can I say, I’m a sucker for Cinderella stories and geeky heroes and heroines.

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Gretchen Engel
In high school, Gretchen E K Engel competed to write her English teacher’s favorite essays and earn highest marks in physics. Science won over the arts, and Gretchen became a chemical engineer. An environmental consultant by day and speculative fiction writer by night, she has authored hundreds of technical documents and several short stories.

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