Book review: The Fandom by Anna Day

Violet is the biggest The Gallows Dance super fan there is. She’s read all the books and watched all the films so many times that she can recite the script; she knows all the characters as well as she knows her own family and friends. She and her two best friends (one a well known fanfic writer, the other just along for the ride), and her equally fanatic brother, go to London Comic Con to meet one of the stars of the film series. But something weird happens when they meet their hero, and they find themselves transported into the middle of the story they love. They discover that the only way back home is to help the story complete properly, but their arrival seems to have thrown everything off course, and something or someone is keeping them from bringing it back on track. Can they save the Imps from repression by the Gems, and get home?

When I first heard about The Fandom, I really wasn’t sure. Then I read the first couple of chapters, and I hated it. Then I read some more and got into it. Then I finished the book and now I’m back to hating it all over again.

So let me break that down.

I didn’t like it at first because it felt like it had been done before. It sounded like an Inkheart/Quantum Leap rip off, and let’s be honest, those two do their thing in a pretty unbeatable and epic way, so I was sceptical.

Reading the first chapters just made everything worse. The set up feels really laboured. We get a quick, yet convenient summary of The Gallows Dance courtesy of Violet’s presentation at school where she walks everyone through the film. Wait – FILM? Yes, film. The book, like all successful dystopian fiction, has been turned into a mega-movie. Totally believable, but totally ruins things. Because of this, Violet compares everything she saw in the film to what is in front of her. Boring; it would have been much better to compare everything with Violet’s imagination. Instead, we only get this comparison occasionally – when she comes across something they didn’t put in the film – and her imagination is always wrong.

Meanwhile, we have discovered everything about our main characters, their story, their relationships, and The Gallows Dance story by page 25. The underlying tension in the group is thrust down our throats so much that even a five year old would get it. Our heroes are conveniently dressed in cosplay. They conveniently resemble key characters (come on!). At this point, I was really hoping that there was a twist of Poirot proportions coming.

I wasn’t totally disappointed. There are a few twists and turns that aren’t completely expected (no spoilers) that kept me interested, but there are still quite a few frustrations. Characters pop up and disappear far too conveniently. I can’t work Violet out, even though she is the main character and we see everything from her point of view. She is unpredictable in the way she reacts, and I don’t think it’s some clever way of showing that she is melding into the character that she has to play in the The Gallows Dance storyline. Or is it? I don’t know. Which means that if it is, it’s not done well enough.

And then the ending. I won’t ruin it, but it is AWFUL. A caricature of a baddie, a coma and a miraculously harmonious friendship. BLURGH!

I’m going to stick with Inkheart and Quantum Leap.

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