My second Cinderella retelling in a month and another very different take on the classic fairy tale. As the subtitle suggests, this fairytale reboot takes place in the world of science fiction fandom. Danielle (Elle) Wittimer has been a longtime fan of Starfield, a TV series that seems a mix of Star Trek, Firefly, with a bit of Star Wars thrown in. Though the show only runs in syndication, it means even more to Elle now because her deceased father was also a huge fan. Actually, both her parents loved the show and before her mother died, Elle’s dad started a wildly popular convention devoted to all things Starfield. Now, Elle lives with her stepmother and annoying twin stepsisters, who don’t have any interest in Starfield and nothing but contempt for Elle. Not surprisingly, Elle’s stepmother sells real estate and her stepsisters are You-Tubers and they all expect Elle to do a lot around the house.
As the story starts, Elle is facing a long summer, working at a food truck (yes, with a giant pumpkin on it) selling vegan tacos, with a sullen and tattooed co-worker and dreaming of escaping away to college. The one bright spot is that production has begun on a Starfield movie; however, when Elle learns who has been cast in the lead role as Prince Carminder, she is furious. They have chosen a teen heartthrob, Darien Freeman, who is famous mainly for starring in a Baywatch-esque show and showing off his abs, but who Elle believes is definitely NOT up to the task of taking on this iconic role. Elle fires off a passionate rant against the casting on her blog, which much to her surprise, goes viral.
However, this isn’t just Elle’s story. The narrative shifts and we get a chapter from Darien Freeman’s point of view and learn that though he is a teen heartthrob and his abs are insured, he is also a huge Starfield fan and worries that he might not be up to the task either. What he does know is that he definitely doesn’t want to attend the annual ExcelsiCon—the convention started by Elle’s dad.
As the story alternates chapters between Elle and Darien, we have a romantic comedy meet-cute via the phone and texting, we have a fancy ball (only this a cosplay ball), and lots of obstacles thrown in the way of Elle and Darien actually meeting, let alone having a happy-ever-after. Though you can sometimes feel Ashley Poston stretching to connect her tale back to the more traditional fairy tale version, the end result is fluffy, enjoyable fun and a definite love letter to sci fi fans in all their geeky glory.