Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed.
When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.
While this isn’t technically a fantasy book, it is a retelling of The Prince and the Pauper, and it’s a very fantasy adjacent story so I’m happy to review it here. 🙂
This was such a cute book! I listened to this on audio and I thought all of the narrators did a great job with it. And as someone who has been to a few conventions in her life (mostly anime), this felt very spot on for how conventions go. I appreciated the attention to detail. The story alternates between our two POV characters, Imogen and Jess, as they run into each other and then take each other’s places at the convention.
Switching places is always a good bet for hijinks, and we get some of that here. But because of the nature of the characters, it actually affords the two girls to see their lives from different perspectives and gain a new appreciation for why each of them feel so passionately about what love–whether that’s the craft of acting or their favorite characters from a show. I loved that this seemed to take some time, even though it’s a book that is fast paced and takes place over a few days. They each had some events that helped with these insights, but a lot of it was also due just to getting to know each other through stepping into one another’s shoes.
I love stories with a good character arc, and this one has a few! Both Jess and Imogen may be a bit unlikable at first, but as you get to know them through the course of the story, you really come to love both of them. Aside from Jess and Imogen there are a load of other great characters, such as Imogen’s brother Milo and his boyfriend Bran. They were both quite fun and even had some character growth of their own. I really do feel like the characters are this author’s strength.
My other favorite thing about this book is the romance. I appreciated both romances in the book, although I do feel like Jess’s side of things took a bit of a backseat to Imogen’s and wish that romance had been fleshed out a bit more. Where Imogen and her romantic interest spend quite a bit of time together getting to know one another, Jess doesn’t spend as much time with her romantic interest. Most of the time Jess had to be running off on her own to try and discover who was trying to sabotage her so her undercover nature really didn’t lend itself to advancing her romantic subplot all that much.
If there was maybe one negative for me it was all of the constant fandom name dropping. At one point there was just a list of fandom names rambled off. I get it. We’re all nerds here! Yay! But at a certain point it feels like pandering to keep mentioning all of these fandoms rather then just organic inclusiveness of these things. Or maybe I’m just old, bitter, and jaded, who knows? 🙂
Anywho. I did love this book a heck of a lot. It’s fluffy in all the right places but also has some great emotional moments and fantastic character development. If you’re looking for something that is cute and geeky with some romance and plenty of diversity, this may just be the book for you. 4/5 stars.