Gena (short for Genevieve) and Finn (short for Stephanie) have little in common. Book-smart Gena is preparing to leave her posh boarding school for college; down-to-earth Finn is a twenty-something struggling to make ends meet in the big city. Gena’s romantic life is a series of reluctant one-night-stands; Finn is making a go of it with long-term boyfriend Charlie. But they share a passion for Up Below, a buddy cop TV show with a cult fan following. Gena is a darling of the fangirl scene, keeping a popular blog and writing fan fiction. Finn’s online life is a secret, even from Charlie. The pair spark an unlikely online friendship that deepens quickly (so quickly it scares them both), and as their individual “real” lives begin to fall apart, they increasingly seek shelter online, and with each other.
Unfortunately, I just didn’t connect with this one at all. While I really enjoy books told in epistolary format, it can be a tricky style when portraying the emotional nuances of characters, for instance. In this case, it just felt like the emotions were overdramatic and overdone – this may be a symptom of the fact that the book was really quite short, so things weren’t drawn out as much as they could be. I also got quite tired of the super-colloquial internet style.
I will say in this book’s favour that the authors really nailed the fandom aspect – the blog posts, the squeeing, and the dissections of every minutiae from the featured TV show were totally on point, and I found myself smiling in recognition. The novel also accurately depicts the internet friendships that emerge, when faceless people are united across keyboards by their mutual love of something.
However, the relationship between Gena and Finn is incredibly confusing and largely ambiguous – it’s super intense, you’re never sure if it’s romantic or platonic, and quite frankly, it doesn’t appear particularly healthy to me. And Gena, as a character, was hard for me to identify with – she makes some pretty dodgy decisions, and is surrounded by fairly irresponsible people.
All in all, I think this book could have done so much more for the premise, but ended up a bit of a hot mess.
ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.