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Convention time! Everyone’s favorite conventions are happening and we should revel in it! The beautiful thing about fandom is how it brings a diverse world together in love of art. The books below all take place around a convention or are deeply steeped in fandom. No matter your walk of life or the part of the world you’re enjoying your art in, there is someone half a world away loving and reveling in the same thing. So no matter if you’re going to a content-specific fandom meet up, Őszi MondoCon, the World Science Fiction Convention, San Diego Comic Con, C3AFA Tokyo, or another local event, you are in good company. The following are all YA books, but the first three are more accessible to younger YA readers. This list is made as a completionist reader. On this date in 2019, these are the books about fandom and conventions that I’ve read. You’ll notice I don’t give starred reviews, but you’ll find my favorites in the language used to describe them.
Geekerella by Ashely Poston is an adorable story where both the protagonists are fully realized and the Cinderella story oozes through the pages. There’s a ball during the con and everything. Elle’s father introduced her to Starfield when she was little and even became a founder of ExcelsiCon, the local convention where Starfield love flourishes. Unfortunately, after her father’s passing, Elle’s step mother isn’t as into the fandom and wants Elle to focus on other parts of her life, like the Pumpkin vegan food truck she works at with one of her step sisters. At the same time, Darien (can I hear a Sailor Moon reference) is a true fan who has been made into the Starfield prince charming. If only he could be seen for who he really is. It has good character development and pacing and was in the top 100 in both the YA romance and the YA LGBTQIA romances at one point, though the side character has that plot line.
Don’t Cosplay with My Heart by Cecil Castellucci is a solid middle school quick read. Edan is a good girl hiding a mess of a life, but when she cosplays Gargantua she can act out in loud ways that she would never do in her real life. Edan embraces her mask and hides from her feelings both for her father and the love triangle she finds. Loving a fandom and figuring out her life are the major themes in this coming of age novel of friendship and finding one’s self.
Lexi’s Dad owns a convention-related business and she grew up around fans and organizing the fan-spaces. She’s good at what she does. Then new author Aiden Green arrives to speak and throws Lexi off her game. It turns out that Aiden Green is a pseudonym and the person inside the legend is misunderstood. Told over six conventions and many misunderstandings, acceptance is the end-goal in this fan’s book. Quirky friends? Check. Cute romance? Check. Conventions? Check. Reading Maggie Harcourt’s Unconventional is a must for rom-com readers and those who love a good slow novel.
Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell is the sweet story of waiting in line to see the newest Star Wars film and getting to know the fans around you. Elena is waiting on line more than a night before the next movie starts and she’s third in line behind Troy, who has been part of the waiting line parties for Star Wars since the old days, and Gabe, someone she never knew she knew. Elena has been waiting to watch Star Wars in order because her estranged father told her that’s the best way to watch them. The companionship and minutiae of waiting for a fan event are expertly approached. This short story is available both in the World Book Day addition with a Sara Barnard short story or in a two-story collection called Almost Midnight with the story of love over several New Years’ Eves.
For readers a little oder than the last Ashley Poston book, but in the same universe, The Princess and the Fangirl is the story of one convention and one fandom. Imogen Lovelace is one of the founders of the save Amara fanbase, trying to keep Starfield’s princess alive though she seemed to die at the end of the last movie. Jess plays Amara, but she’s not a Starfield fan. They are both at ExcelsiCon, and both meeting obligations while tryingn to progress as individuals. They also look really similar and Imogen gets mistaken for Jess. A script leak from inside the Con and an iron-clad contract mean Jess needs to get out into there and find the script she tossed into the trash. Hilarity and romance ensue as side characters step in and offer their support.
Several cons are taking place in once convention center. Callie Buchannan is at the taxidermy con (see the cover of this book) and Phoebe is at the Indoor Percussion Association Convention, but Vanessa is at the WTFcon to meet Soliel, her internet girlfriend, in person for the first time ever. A few misunderstandings and a few competitions later, real and supportive friendships form. If you want to have some readers who will connect with loving something unconditionally and are OK with a little messiness in the middle, this is a great book for upper middle school readers. Published in March 2018.
Violet, Katie, Alice, and Nate go to a fan convention in London Comic-Con for a chance to mingle with people who love what they love, and stand in line to meet the actors playing their favorite books on screen. While waiting to meet them, an accident moves them into the story itself. Luckily Violet knows all the words to the story, and most of the fandom thoughts. She’s put into the protagonists place and has to live out the story…and maybe die in the hero’s place. Fully fandom and complicated relationsips, this is a good read for those who love their dystopian fiction. Published by Chicken House in 2018. There is a sequel, but I have not read it.
Claire is a huge Demon Heart Fan while Forest, who is an actor in the show, is not really into fandom. They first come into contact at a Comic-Con where Forest and his costar are promoting their show and Claire is trying to get one of the fandom’s biggest question answered: is Forest’s character attracted to his male demon costar? Claire asks on mic at a panel and her question is posted to the internet. What ensues is a look at fandom from the point of view of an actor who doesn’t understand it, and a fan who would do anything, even throw aside a romance and who would willingly blackmail show runners to see her vision for the show on screen while fully believing she’s right. This book comes to mixed reviews and had me picking it up and putting it down again and again. On the one hand encapsulating fandom and the joy of a convention and on the other hand showing us what obsession and lack of empathy can bring, it is a great, messy look at an individuals love for her fandom. For a mature high school reader who loves their fandom, this is a good read published in early 2019.
Charlie is a vlogger promoting her first acting gig at SupaCon in the USA. She brings her friends Taylor and Jamie to the con. This story about friendship and acceptance is upbeat and more than can be described in a short paragraph. Suffice it to say self-confidence, romance, friendship, diversity, and truth to self and friends, support and very true depiction of fan gatherings make this a great read for the high schooler and older reader. Published by Swoon Reads in 2017.
Graham and Roxy are best friends and live near each other. They’ve cemented their friendship with Harry Potter obsession and moved into the comic book world together. Graham decides that New York Comic Con is the best place to confess his real feelings to her, but Roxy is there for the con. Told in the real world and in the comic realm, this is a great high school read. Sarvenaz Tash’s Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love is a story of friendship and knowing ones self, and comic con. Published in early 2016.
Josie wants to be a TV actress and has connections that might get her there, and Delia is the driving force between a midnight public access TV horror show that pays homage to the one she watched with her father all those years ago. Since they are best friends Josie works on the show every Friday and Saturday night. But now that they are starting to think about life after high school, they need to move in a direction that will get their futures worked out. Delia thinks that meeting up with an old horror personality at a convention will make all the difference to keeping the friends together. There are boys and abandonment issues keeping them apart, but Delia isn’t about to let that keep them apart. Dealing with mental health issues and friendship in a real way, this read is for high schoolers or older audiences. The characters are fleshed out and the feels are real. Published by Crown in 2019.
Hopefully this list is not complete. I’m glad to read stories of fandom and conventions in the future. The feeling when people truly love something and have the willingness to show that love and to participate in thoughtful discussions of that art form bring me joy. Keep reading, keep writing, and keep enjoying art.