Book: The Fandom
Author: Anna Day
Published By: Chicken House
Expected Publication: 4th January (yes I know, this is very late!)
Format: Physical copy, paperback
Thanks to Chicken House for allowing me to have an ARC of this book, even if it did take me a while to get through it!
I got an ARC of The Fandom when I was at YALC last summer, and initially I was really excited. I mean a group of friends at Comic Con, getting transported into their favourite fictional world? Sounds like every book lover’s dream right? However I found the actual book quite a struggle to get through, the plot lagged for most of the book and then everything was far too fast at the end and you had no time to take anything in. Also the fact that the book came about as a result of an Ideas Contest and the author wasn’t actually the one who originated the idea just doesn’t sit right with me. I also wasn’t a massive fan of the writing, the author repeated a lot of the same phrases over and over again. Here is a short synopsis of the book:
Cosplay ready, Violet and her friends are at Comic-Con.
They can’t wait to meet the fandom of mega movie, The Gallows Dance. What they’re not expecting is to be catapulted by freak accident into their favourite world – for real. Fuelled by love, guilt and fear, can the friends put the plot back on track and get out? The fate of the story is in their hands …
A fast-paced, genre-flipping YA fantasy adventure from a brand new author, writing in homage to the best YA fiction.
It’s an interesting concept, but I felt like this book couldn’t decide what it wanted to be? Was it a dystopia, a contemporary, a fantasy? It could have been any of the above and whilst I do love it when authors bend genre tropes and explore more than one genre in their books, in this particular book, it felt really clumsy, not as if the author was wanting to subvert the tropes of different genres, but that she simply couldn’t decide what kind of story she wanted to write, so threw everything plus the kitchen sink into this book.
I also felt like the story was insanely predictable, I mean it starts off with Violet giving a presentation about The Gallows Dance and pretty much telling us the plot of the rest of the book, so you know exactly what is going to happen, right up until the final page. Sure there are a few surprises along the way, but for the most part, the entire plot of the book is highlighted in a few pages at the beginning, which means there’s absolutely no tension, even in places where there should be. You know exactly what is going to happen and how things are going to end up, so it’s really difficult to care, even when the characters are in precarious positions. There are some okay twists, but even then, you know that the story can only end one way, so they lose any impact that they may have had.
I never really felt connected to any of the the characters, they just didn’t feel fleshed out enough to me. Violet and her inferiority complex got irritating real fast, Alice felt like just your stereotypical blonde and Katie, who might have been interesting, just wasn’t given enough page time for you to really care about her. Nate was quite cute but again, I didn’t feel totally connected to him.
I liked the romantic twist with Violet falling for the wrong guy, but her romance with Ash didn’t feel totally believable, Ash was kind of bland and their love seemed pretty instalovey to me, sure they had a more believable connection that Rose and Willow, but they still weren’t very shippable to me, and it just seemed like their romance was in here because it’s a YA and there “has” to be a romance.
The friendships, oh my. Alice, Violet and Katie’s friendship was totally toxic, or at least, both their friendships with Alice were, particularly Violet and Alice. They barely even seem to like each other and Violet and Katie say horrible things about Alice, slut shaming her constantly and Alice seems to look down on both of them. I know bitchy friendships are part of school life, but personally? Don’t want to read about them. The world pits women against each other enough, without us doing it in fiction too. I quite liked Katie and Violet’s friendship, in fact it kind of seemed like there might have been something more there, at least on Violet’s end and I wish that had been explored more. Katie was quite funny, with all her inventive curses!
There was absolutely no sense of urgency, knowing how the story was going to end ahead of time, made me feel like I was just going through the motions, exactly like Violet seemed to be for most of the story.
I liked Violet’s relationship with her little brother, it felt like a very authentic sibling relationship and even though it was irritating how she kept infantilising him, as a younger sibling myself, I can relate to that one! It was nice to see a brother/sister relationship in YA, I feel like those are often neglected? Or maybe that’s just me? Nate totally didn’t deserve what happened to him in the end.
The action sequences were decent, but again, they lacked urgency because we already knew the ending.
It’s completely unbelievable that none of them were injured by having fricking scaffolding collapse on them, like I’m sorry, there’s just no way, if you are crushed by tonnes of heavy metal, you will get more than a fricking bump on the head!
It was great that they all learned something and seemed to have changed from their experience in The Gallows Dance, I liked that the author showed that, it would have been completely unbelievable that they would have gone through all of that without having changed at least a little.
There was a scene in the Gallows Dance part where Violet is almost sexually assaulted by a guard (someone steps in before it goes too far), and I thought that was totally unnecessary and a step too far, with everything happening in that area in real life at the moment, it’s not something we need to casually see in fiction as well.
I liked how the author expanded on the stories of the side characters in her fictional universe, so often we don’t get to see the stories of minor characters in novels, so it was nice to see that.
There were way too many info dumps about things that happened in canon and then we had to see those scenes play out after having just been told about them, it just didn’t feel at all authentic!
It definitely felt more for younger teens than older ones in the way that it was written, the repetitive style, the language, I don’t know, just something about it felt a lot more like something I would have loved when I was 13, than when I was 16/17, not that that’s a bad thing, we need more books for younger teens!
The mocking of dystopian novels felt a bit much, I get the author was trying to be clever and subvert genre tropes, but it didn’t feel like it was done in a loving way, it felt like the author was being way harsh on everything that had come before, and again, dystopia has changed a lot in the past ten or so years since The Hunger Games and Divergent, so it doesn’t land as well as it might have had this book been published earlier. Subvert tropes all you want, but you can do it without besmirching the books that got you to where you are now.
Overall, The Fandom had potential, but the way it was executed was poor, it was poorly written and incredibly predictable, the characters felt flat, I was not here for the incredibly toxic teen friendship and it was pretty slow, right up until the end where it went too fast and then didn’t explain anything. Also the ending was completely unsatisfying!
My Rating: 3/5
Bechdel Test: PASS-Alice, Katie and Violet have several conversations that don’t revolve around boys.
My next review will be of Jaime Questell’s A Charm And A Curse, which should hopefully be going up next week as part of a review tour for it.