I really wanted to love this quirky and cute little book. And for a little while, I did. A modern, geeky take on Cinderella? A love story where the interaction takes place mostly over text? Cons and Cosplay? It all sounded great.
The first two-thirds of this story worked for me. Elle lives with her horrible step-mother and horrible twin step-sisters in the house where she grew up. Her mother died when she was really young and her father died a few years ago, after remarrying. After his death, horrible step-mother erased every single trace of his memory and basically turned Elle into a slave. (I didn’t buy into any of this, but tried to just go along with the story.)
Her sisters live a life of leisure, playing tennis and hanging out at the country club, while Elle does everything at home, and has a job in a weird vegan food truck that looks like a pumpkin.
Elle’s one escape from her terrible life is her love of the old sci-fi show Starfield, which she and her dad used to watch together. He even started up a small Convention in Atlanta to celebrate the show, which has now evolved into a huge con. Now that Starfield is about to become a huge budget movie, the Con will be bigger than ever. Elle dreams of going to the Con, winning the costume contest (by wearing her dad’s old costume), and escaping to Hollywood to become a sci-fi screenwriter.
Meanwhile, Darien is a teen heart-throb actor on a nighttime soap opera. He has just been case as the lead in the Starfield movie, and nobody thinks he can pull it off. But he’s a secret Starfield fan and wants this role more than anything.
Darien and Elle accidentally meet over text (he’s trying to text the Con, she inherited her dad’s old phone) and develop a relationship over the next few weeks that quickly turns serious. He doesn’t know who she really is and she has no idea that he’s about to star as her favorite character of all time.
Add in some truly mean and hurtful scenes with the stepsisters, some awful words from the stepmother, a cool friend who works in the food truck and saves the day with her seamstress skills, and a missing crystal slipper at the Cosplay Ball, and there’s your Ciderella story.
And it was cute. But some of it really bugged me. Including:
All of the YouTube vlogger stuff. Awful.
The “dramatic” scene on the golf course near the end. So dumb. Wouldn’t Sage be potentially arrested? Or did Darien just throw money at all of the damage they caused? UGH.
The drama with the neighbor’s dog was very confusing. And by the way…
The epilogue was fine…but WHO BRINGS A DOG TO A RED CARPET PREMIERE?
And what bugged me most of all was the entire “selling the house” subplot. Elle states near the beginning of the book that her Dad left the house to her. So legally, doesn’t horrible stepmother need to involve an attorney before she just sells the house without Elle’s approval or involvement? Even if the house is held in trust until Elle turns 21, wouldn’t she still need to be involved in this decision? I COULD NOT GET OVER THIS.
Yes, it was cute and fluffy and an easy read. But if I have to choose a Cinderella reboot, I’d go with Cinder by Marissa Meyer. That series was so good for a while (and it ended so not good). But the underlying message of this book was cool. Even when Elle is told again and again that the obsession she has (and that her parents had) over Starfield is stupid, she doesn’t stop loving it. If it makes her happy, then she should go ahead and love it, no matter what anyone else thinks. That’s a message I can get behind.