“Eventually this whole business with Heart is going to kill him.
But Smokey hope it’s not today.”
CLAIRE is a sixteen-year-old fangirl obsessed with the show Demon Heart. FOREST is an actor on Demon Heart who dreams of bigger roles. When the two meet at a local Comic-Con panel, it’s a dream come true for Claire. Until the Q&A, that is, when Forest laughs off Claire’s assertion that his character is gay. Claire is devastated. After all, every last word of her super-popular fanfic revolves around the romance between Forest’s character and his male frenemy. She can’t believe her hero turned out to be a closed-minded jerk. Forest is mostly confused that anyone would think his character is gay. Because he’s not. Definitely not.
Unfortunately for Demon Heart, when the video of the disastrous Q&A goes viral, the producers have a PR nightmare on their hands. In order to help bolster their image within the LGBTQ+ community-as well as with their fans-they hire Claire to join the cast for the rest of their publicity tour. What ensues is a series of colorful Comic-Con clashes between the fans and the show that lead Forest to question his assumptions about sexuality and help Claire come out of her shell. But how far will Claire go to make her ship canon? To what lengths will Forest go to stop her and protect his career? And will Claire ever get the guts to make a move on Tess, the very cute, extremely cool fanartist she keeps running into?
What I thought
I feel like this book is the opposite to IWBFT, which is a pity because I was really looking forward to reading it. Where IWBFT had representation and diversity done well, this fandom is taken to it’s ugly extreme.
To start with in the first scene we meet Claire she’s writing slash fanfic (gay and explicit) and realises that she’s not quite sure about the logistics of how certain actions are performed. Mainly because she’s 15 years old and hasn’t done anything more than a kiss. But that’s fine because instead of just shrugging and getting on with it, she makes sure that no one is watching, puts her headphones in and watches porn. Seriously. On the school wifi, she googles porn to get the angles right?! There are a couple of major issues with this.
A) There is no way in hell she would have been able to watch this at school. No matter how good a hacker she is (which she isn’t). Funnily enough schools block porn sites.
B) Really who actually cares about it and how realistic it is?
C) Is this supposed to show us that she doesn’t care about the rules and that she is ‘cool’ and ‘trendy’? All it does make me immediately want to put the breaks on.
Claire very clearly fetishizes and fantasises about m/m relationships and it becomes uncomfortable at times.
She’s the only ‘cool’ fandom person in the school? Are we really still pretending to live in society where fandom isn’t a thing? I mean in a world that is post Harry Potter (where it is literally a case of almost everyone having been a part of the fandom in some way and even if they haven’t they will recognise parts of it). Where the fandom in question is clearly based on Supernatural the idea that you should be ashamed of caring about these things is just not where our culture is. And I’m not just saying this as someone who has a drawer and a half of fandom tops. It just feels like this book is aimed at people who are part of fandoms or who enjoy watching these shows, and telling them that they are the minority and that society is constantly against us. Really? It’s agreeing with the idea that we’ll go through life with people not liking us because we’re a geek, where really it’s because they are an idiot of the highest order. Claire really isn’t that likeable a character but she thinks it’s because she’s a geek, where really she’s a complete snob in her fandom. Well done her for being one of the well-known fanfic writers, that’s impressive. But looking down at them because they don’t agree with your Ship? Because they don’t ‘get it’? Honestly the way she goes on and one about how the two MCs in the show are gay for each other is done in exactly the same way as people getting angry at Kelly Tran in Star Wars. She feels it’s her right to get the show changed to fit her head canon because she was one of the original fans and ‘knows the show better than the writers or actors’. It’s a sense of entitlement that because she’s been a fan from the start she’s a ‘true fan’ and therefore better than any others or even the actors/producers/writers etc.
Also yeah what Forest says at the con about ‘not spoiling it for others’ when Claire asked about the potential relationship, is a bit of a shitty thing to say. But he also does have a bit of a point, how you interpret a show is personal and if that’s how you read it and enjoy it then good for you. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that was how it was acted. It’s like poet’s saying I didn’t mean for that line to mean that but if that’s what it means to you then that’s what it means. The arts are always up for interpretation.
However I can’t deny that Claire does have a point, if it was a m/f potential relationship there wouldn’t be any issues surrounding it and accusing them of having a ‘thing’ wouldn’t be considered spoiling it.
But the only way to fix it is for Claire to ‘win’ a chance to go on tour with them? And no one thinks this is suspicious?
And Claire doesn’t just accept that they are using her to negate the bad publicity she decides to make it my mission to corner the show runner and force him to change the direction of the show to make they two characters gay. At no point does she think that this is a stupid idea (although Tess does point it out) nor does she think that maybe it’s not the sole decision of the show runner and other people might need to be involved in the conversation.
Claire is continually unable to separate her head canon/fandom from cannon. She can’t just accept that the whole point of fanfic is changing things and having fun with the source material. In her mind the only way forward is to force everyone to listen to her to get otp (one true pairing) together. In doing so she ruins one panel by asking everyone to refuse to ask a question at the Q&A as ‘they clearly don’t want to listen to their opinions.’ Key word in that sentence is ‘OPINION’. Claire continues to give fangirls, and fandom in general, a bad name, at one point she steals the show runner’s phone and BLACKMAILS him with his twitter. Seriously, and this is seen as a good thing because ‘she’s got the guts to follow her dreams and passions’. Um since when has blackmail ever been good?
Ok so Claire and Tess can be quite cute but it did feel like representation and diversity was being thrown in my face. DID I MENTION THAT TESS IS BLACK AND PAN! But there are problems in their relationship, Claire very clearly doesn’t listen to what Tess thinks as she completely ignores her when Tess quite rightly points out that maybe it’s okay if Smokey and Hart don’t get together in the show, that is what fanfic is for after all.
The one thing that is the most uncomfortable in their relationship and is a skipped over as though it’s not important, they BOTH out each other. Seriously. They both Tess is angry about Claire acting like she’s a dirty little secret so outs her as gay. This isn’t okay. But then Claire does the same, but she doesn’t think of it as the same, she thinks of it as helping Tess by making sure her friends ‘know the real you’. She outs Tess as a fangirl who goes to cons in front of Tess’ friends, the ones that Tess had very clearly said earlier that she didn’t want knowing about this part of her life. Except it all turns out okay because Tess’ friends accept her and make her go to the next con in cosplay. But seriously, we’re just going to ignore the fact that Claire ignores what Tess wants.
I’m also aware that being outed as a geek really ISN’T a big deal, maybe people will laugh a bit if they hear you go to cons. But in the world we live in with Game of Thrones, and Doctor who being mainstream culture, it really isn’t a thing that people try to hide now days. But in the world in this book which is supposedly contemporary, admitting that you like a fantasy show is like admitting that you worship the devil.
Outing someone as anything is not a good thing, but it’s treated really lightly here, as though it’s not a big deal. Really?
My final issue with this book is another thing that Claire just throws away as not being a big deal. She’s a fanfic writer and becomes a kinda friend of Forrest so he tells her stuff about him. She then write an RP fanfic abut him. REALLY? Everyone knows that she’s on this tour and what her tumblr name is. It’s a MASSIVE invasion of privacy; her using what she told him in her fanfic is not an okay thing. And she’s like “its FICTION.” Nope. RP fanfic is weird and slightly creepy anyway but writing it about someone you know? When EVERYONE whose reading it knows you know him?
Why I read it:
It’s an f/f story about fandoms. This should have been right up my street.
Wanted to enjoy it but was so difficult due to the amount of suspension of disbelief needed for the plot to make sense.
This is the first book this year that I really actively disliked. I didn’t understand or enjoy Perfume and it was a bit of a slog to read but this one was full of plot holes and points that made me angry. The charactisation isn’t great and I really wanted to enjoy it. I finished it thinking it was ‘a bit not good’ but the more I thought about it and sat down to write this the more I realised how angry I was with it.
Would I recommend: Honestly I wish I could say yes, the idea behind this story is a good one but the execution wasn’t.
Popsugar: LGBTQ+ protag, published 2018, problem facing society today.
Read Harder: Romance by or about PoC, one-sitting
I didn’t realise that this was going to be my longest review so far and that I was going to spend the whole time complaining/ranting about it. Like I said I really wanted to enjoy this book but there are just too many issues.
PLEASE let me know if you read this book and felt differently to me.
P.S My next review is Skylarks by Karen Gregory. (Which I enjoyed a LOT more)