So, last week felt exceptionally long. With the debate raging in the United States if schools should reopen on time, I needed some fluffy romance novels to take my mind off real life.
As it happened, I had a boatload waiting for me from NetGalley. Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade was the third one I read and – some great news – I have to say that this book helped me forget about all that for awhile. Really. I was so wrapped up in this book that a thunderstorm could have been raging right outside my window and I wouldn’t have had a clue. I think that Mr. Librarian tried talking to me while I was reading and I did not even hear him. And that is saying something. Conclusion: It is definitely worth adding to your TBR list!! (And if you need any more convincing, check out this article in the Washington Post saying, basically, the same things I am…)
A (not so quick) recap:
When Marcus plays Aeneas on the most popular TV show “Gods of the Gates,” one that rivals (and mimics) the popularity of Game of Thrones, he is frustrated by the lack of care the shows writers have taken with the original source material – a beloved series of books. (Sound familiar, GoT fans?)
(Side Note: A book series and TV show based on Virgil’s Aeneid? I would TOTALLY hit that! Can someone please get writing? Immediately!)
So, Marcus writes out his frustrations in fan fiction (under the name, Book!AeneasWouldNever), creating new worlds that fixes all the problems he sees in the show. He’s even (anonymously) integrated himself in the fan community, cultivating a relationship and writing alongside his best (online) friend, Unapologetic Lavinia Stan.
April, used to hiding her obsession with everything “Gods of the Gates,” including her volumes of fan fiction as Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, decides to out herself. She finally, after long years, post a picture of herself in full Lavinia – her favorite character – cosplay. She’s smart and witty, but has spent many years dealing with fat shaming from pretty much everyone in her life, so after the picture goes viral and the haters start hating, she tries to tune out. Until Marcus steps in and asks her out on a date. A pity date, sure, but it stops all the haters in their tracks.
On their first date, Marcus sees through her insecurities to a passionate woman that he enjoys spending time with and April sees through his false dim-witted persona that he’s publicly crafted for years. When she tells him about her fan fiction obsession, it is revealed that she is Unapologetic Lavinia Stan. Initially, he’s thrilled because – wow – his best (online) friend is also the hot chick that he could totally date, but his excitement fades when he realizes if HIS fan fiction were to be exposed, he could lose it all. Hijinks ensue, sexy times happen (a lot), misunderstandings occur, lies are exposed, and forgiveness is granted leading up to the happily ever after.
While it wasn’t unpredictable – it IS a romance after all – it was, in fact, hilarious. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard while reading a book. I got some strange looks from Mr. Librarian who was sitting in the room with me while I read it.
One of these reasons was the fact that the author intersperses chapters with some of the fan fiction or other acting projects of which Marcus has been involved. Some are written as fan fiction, some as screen plays, some as newspaper or magazine articles, and some are transcripts from text chats between characters. They are seriously hilarious! I can’t even describe them – you’ll just have to read them for yourself. Tell me your favorite!
Another was – my favorite character – Alex. He’s Marcus’ best friend and costar – he plays the role of Cupid on “Gods of the Gates.” After reading some of April and Marcus’ fan fiction, Alex – sucked in the fan fiction world – binges mass amounts of Cupid fan fiction and then becomes inspired to write his own, very raunchy, very explicit stories (under the name CupidUnleashed, which I greatly enjoyed and are particularly hilarious). I’m serious that I would read a whole book about him! (Which based on my twitter exchange with Olivia Dade WILL be released next year! SQUEEEE!!!!) I laughed so hard and for at least five minutes. (I have witnesses.)
However, it’s not all sunshine, rainbows and humor. There were some serious moments, especially surrounding dyslexia and fat shaming. There were also some terrible parental relationships for each of them, which – coming from a loving and supportive family myself – I found very difficult to read. Sometimes the conversations and situations that included these difficult issues felt heart-felt and meaningful. However, there were definitely other times, when I was like, “Ok, Ok, I get it. You have issues. Move along.” It gave one of the funniest books I’ve read some emotional depth which I greatly appreciated.
Therefore, I want to say something about a plus-size heroine. But, I’m kind of at a loss for words. It shouldn’t have to be remarked upon when a person who isn’t – let’s go with – Hollywood size(skinny?), gets to be a romantic lead and has a partner who IS Hollywood-attractive. But, we do live in that world and it is this kind of literature that is working hard to de-stigmatize issues surrounding weight. Women of all shapes and sizes are attractive. Women of all shapes and sizes are attractive to men of different shapes and sizes. And this was a breath of fresh air.
This book was so good, that I definitely suggest you get it ASAP. Pre-order, recommend to libraries, you name it. Get. it.
Spoiler Alert, expected release date: October 6, 2020