I have no idea how this book by Jen Wilde ended up on my bookshelf. A YA romance? Not my usual fare at all. I think it must have been in some gift box or something. I’m open to trying most genres, and this looked potentially like a cute story, so I didn’t want to get rid of it. And finally I got around to reading it, and it is pretty cute!
The book involves three teenage friends who travel from Australia to California to attend SupaCon, a convention for science fiction and fantasy fans. So there’s lots of talk of cosplay and vlogging and video games and many different fandoms, both real and fictional. Charlie is actually attending the fan professionally. She’s a vlogger and actress who just starred in her first movie, a zombie flick that has become a surprise hit. The problem is that her co-lead is her ex-boyfriend, and the studio would love to be able to tell fans that they’re back together. Charlie, however, is much more excited about meeting Alyssa, one of the biggest stars on YouTube.
Charlie has also brought along her friends Taylor and Jamie. Taylor is anxious about anything involving crowds but excited to show off her amazing cosplay as Queen Firestone. And, while Charlie is participating in panels and publicity events, she can hang out with Jamie, a comic book nerd who Taylor has always had a crush on. They even almost sort of went on a date once, but the moment passed, and it seems they’ve moved on, maybe.
It’s pretty clear from the start where the story is going for all three characters. But it’s fun to see how they get there. The one time I went to a con in recent years, I was impressed at the camaraderie and joy that people were taking in the event. And Wilde captures the atmosphere nicely. It’s possibly a bit idealized at times, but, honestly, the con I went to felt almost unbelievably pleasant. So I bought it.
It is a YA novel, so sometimes the character’s thoughts and feelings were a little too spelled out, to the point that it felt like a little mini-lecture on here’s how to manage anxiety or here’s how to process a hard conversation. I didn’t need that, but I’m a middle aged lady! I can imagine some of those parts being really helpful for a teenager who’s still figuring this stuff out.