All the Feels: All Is Fair in Love and Fandom
Inspired by @CoulsonLives, Danika Stone has written a young adult romance about a fan who refuses to accept the movie death of her favorite character.
In All the Feels, Liv was eager to see the latest film installment of her beloved Starveil, only to be crushed when it ended with the death of Spartan, the spaceship captain. She refuses to accept this and becomes determined, with the help of her best friend Xander (who lives his life cosplaying as a Regency gentleman), to rally fandom to change this outcome.
Liv’s an accomplished vidder, Xander’s conveniently a handsome actor, so they start making #SpartanSurvived videos. With the help of Liv’s online friends — one a popular fanfic writer, another skilled at Photoshop manips — the movement spreads, in spite of Liv’s mom’s dislike of how involved her daughter is in fandom and how it affects her grades.
On a personal level, I had a big problem with how much of this story happened at Dragon Con. I know they needed a show that had strong cosplay involvement as well as being big enough for it to be plausible that major media property stars would appear, but I’m uncomfortable promoting that show this heavily given its history of association with a convicted child sex offender. I suppose I should get over that, since it’s been three years since they managed to break those financial ties.
On a more literary note, there are elements raised earlier in the story — conflict with the mother’s boyfriend, the mother’s dislike of fandom — that simply fade away instead of being fully handled in satisfactory fashion. More of a wrap-up of all the conflicts introduced would have been a good idea. The question of whether it’s possible to go too deep into a fandom isn’t taken seriously; there’s no downside shown here, although the mother’s concerns are valid. Sure, it’s a fluffy YA romance, but that approach left me a little disturbed, since I’m on the side of moderation. Very little is done, for instance, with how antisocial one of Liv’s online friends is in real life.
I also found it implausible that with Liv’s love for this property, she doesn’t seem to have any idea of the business behind her franchise. It never occurs to her that the actors in Starveil might have opinions or choices about their work or that decisions might be made from a financial basis. It surprised me to see such naiveté from someone who’s supposed to be immersed in this fandom, since most devoted fans I’ve known pay at least a little attention to things like ratings or sales just to know if their love is likely to survive another season/release/year. I did, though, like the devices Stone uses, from text conversations to Twitter debates, that capture how people today communicate in various fashions.
Much of the book is wish fulfillment on the page, from Liv’s eventual romance to her meeting the cast and producers of her favorite series. (Conveniently, she’s gorgeous, with an hourglass figure, when she bothers to put on something other than a t-shirt and jeans.) Still, for those who have been sucked into a fandom (and perhaps wondered if they’re spending their time wisely), there’s a lot to enjoy here, even if it does overstate just how much influence fans can or should have on creative decisions. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)