Geekerella's Elle in front of The Magic Pumpkin looking at her cellphone
You know Disney’s Cinderella, the fairy tale where she dreams of a prince coming to her rescue someday? Imagine Cinderella as a diehard fangirl of the royal family, but the royal family is a world-famous science fiction franchise. Ashley Poston’s Geekerella is more like a fairy tale and fandom crossover. That is exactly how I kept translating it in my head while reading it.
What Geekerella Is About
Elle Wittimer is just a normal teen who runs a blog about everything, Starfield. Think of Starfield as a series with a fandom like Star Trek or Star Wars. When Darien Freeman is cast as Prince Carmindor in the new Starfield revival, Elle is wary of the choice. Like many true fans of the series, Elle is critical of the casting choice of a character she adores. She thinks Darien only took the role of fame rather than for the love of the character.
Little does she know that Darien is just as big of a fan as she is. When he tries to cancel an Exelsicon (the book’s fictional version of Comic-Con) appearance, he accidentally contacts Elle’s number instead. Rather than forgetting the interaction, they start texting and thus form a connection through their shared love for Starfield.
How Geekerella Is Different From The Cinderella We Know
I did not have huge expectations for this book but man, it was such a fun story to read. The modern twist to the classic fairy tale is cute, making this book a light and fun read. I love how Elle’s name actually resembles Cinderella, a detail I always appreciate in the retelling of this story. Instead of a pumpkin that turns into a magical carriage, Elle’s ride is the vegan food truck she works at. A truck conveniently called “The Magic Pumpkin.”
Instead of a fairy godmother, her co-worker/friend, Sage, is the one who makes things happen. Without the crucial role of a generous friend, the story wouldn’t have worked.
The Positive Differences
Readers were given an insight into Elle’s relationship with her father. Poston places an emphasis on their strong bond and how they connect through Starfield, which is why it’s important to her. Elle’s connection with her father is crucial, one that was not fleshed out in Disney’s version, as it contributes to one of the major plot twists. Additionally, Darien’s father pressures him in a similar way the Prince’s father in Cinderella does. Similar to pressuring marriage on the prince, Mark pressures Darien with strict requirements in order to accelerate his acting career. Setting the ball at the convention was another adorable detail. Having those in attendance dress up as a Starfield character reminded me of the “nerd proms” I’ve heard of. It was reminiscent of Harry Potter parties with a Yule Ball dress code.
Another alteration Poston made to the popular fairy tale is having one cruel step-sister and one friendly step-sister. It reminds me of Ever After, the Cinderella retelling starring Drew Barrymore, where one step-sister expressed kindness to Elle. Ever After kept resurfacing in my thoughts as I read the story. First of all, Ever After‘s Cinderella is called Elle, short for Danielle, just like Elle in Geekerella. Like in Ever After, Elle doesn’t swoon over Darien right away. In fact, she is very harsh to him, as she expresses in her blog, and doesn’t fall in love at first sight. Nevertheless, the alternating perspectives readers are given from both characters is done well, giving a charming twist in their relationship. It’s one of the most modern ways to bring a couple together, perhaps the cutest I’ve read in a while.
One Little Problem
The major issue I have with the story is how Elle and Darien meet. Elle and Darien meet because Darien tried to contact someone in charge of Excelsicon. Elle’s late father founded the convention, and though he’s no longer around, she still has his phone. Darien found the number and contacted it. He and Elle briefly text one another and say goodbyes when it is clear she is not who he was hoping to speak with. However, Darien starts to feel alone one night and decides to text Elle again for company, and they start corresponding from there.
Now, I think meeting people online and having online friends is an excellent way to socialize. As a hardcore introvert, I wholeheartedly support it; especially having done it myself and being part of The Daily Fandom community. It’s just not ideal to text a stranger, let alone a wrong number. Yes, you can spend Thanksgiving with a new family after a wrong text, or they can be a murderer! Have you ever contacted the wrong number again just to vent?
In no way do I think Poston promotes this. I believe in healthy online relationships and eventually physically meeting those people. However, texting the wrong number about your problems and eventually developing feelings for them may not be a great idea. Otherwise, you may end up in an episode of Catfish.
Geekerella Is A Book By A Fan For Fans
With that said, Poston nailed it when it comes to modernizing this popular fairy tale. Fans of any movie franchise, book series, comic books, television series – any adaptation, really – may enjoy Geekerella, purely because its characters are like us when we care about a story that has impacted our lives. For older readers, Elle and Darien will remind us of our younger selves. In particular, when Twilight, Hunger Games, or even Game of Thrones, to name a few, were emerging to the scene.
We criticized casting choices for those adaptations, and thought some casting choices didn’t match the character we pictured. Geekerella is quite accurate with its depiction of fans’ reactions and how much fans care about a story they love. In a way, Poston is a hardcore fangirl who wrote about a fictional hardcore fangirl and how modern fandoms function. Reading about what fans do, think, experience, and fantasize about was quite a treat.