Source: supplied by publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: Chick Lit, contemporary romance
Series: Spoiler Alert #1
Published by Avon on October 6, 2020
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org
Olivia Dade bursts onto the scene in this delightfully fun romantic comedy set in the world of fanfiction, in which a devoted fan goes on an unexpected date with her celebrity crush, who’s secretly posting fanfiction of his own.
Marcus Caster-Rupp has a secret. While the world knows him as Aeneas, the star of the biggest show on TV, Gods of the Gates, he's known to fanfiction readers as Book!AeneasWouldNever, an anonymous and popular poster. Marcus is able to get out his own frustrations with his character through his stories, especially the ones that feature the internet’s favorite couple to ship, Aeneas and Lavinia. But if anyone ever found out about his online persona, he’d be fired. Immediately.
April Whittier has secrets of her own. A hardcore Lavinia fan, she’s hidden her fanfiction and cosplay hobby from her “real life” for years—but not anymore. When she decides to post her latest Lavinia creation on Twitter, her photo goes viral. Trolls and supporters alike are commenting on her plus-size take, but when Marcus, one half of her OTP, sees her pic and asks her out on a date to spite her critics, she realizes life is really stranger than fanfiction.
Even though their first date is a disaster, Marcus quickly realizes that he wants much more from April than a one-time publicity stunt. And when he discovers she’s actually Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, his closest fandom friend, he has one more huge secret to hide from her.
With love and Marcus’s career on the line, can the two of them stop hiding once and for all, or will a match made in fandom end up prematurely cancelled?
Fanfiction, and for that matter fandom culture in general, tends to get a bad rap. But, if there are really only seven basic plots, and considering that there really is nothing new under the sun, everything is fanfiction. Every story is at least a tiny bit of a takeoff on something else. I read somewhere that John Milton’s Paradise Lost (published in 1667!) was fanfic about the Bible. Whatever you think of that particular variation of the concept, the idea of fanfiction has been around for a very long time.
And you’ve probably read some yourself, whether you considered it as such or not. After all, all Sherlock Holmes stories not written by Conan Doyle are fanfiction. It just happens to be legal fanfiction as most or all of the Holmes canon, depending on which side of the pond you are on, is out of copyright and can be played with or played upon at will.
But fanfiction in the context of this story has a specific meaning, it’s fiction written about someone else’s intellectual property, in this case a hit TV show based upon a best-selling book series that is, itself a kind of fanfiction, as it is a retelling of Homer’s Aeneid, a story that has been told, retold and sorta/kinda told since Virgil first wrote down his version between 29 and 19 BC. Over 2,000 years ago.
Plenty of time for lots of fanfiction to accrete around a story.
Much of contemporary fanfiction, as propagated on Archive of Our Own (AO3), Fanfiction.net and an ever increasing number of Discord servers, just like the fanfiction in the mimeographed fanzines that came before them, tend to be romances, whether explicit or not, although often very. Explicit, that is.
Fanfiction takes that age old question, “What if?” and applies it to someone else’s story. Often by pairing – or shipping – two characters who are not romantic partners in the original, no matter how many fans think they should have been.
The story in Spoiler Alert is a glorious chef’s kiss to fanfiction, a lovely story of wish-fulfillment that goes right, and then wrong, and then right again, and a beautiful romance between two people who no one would ever have shipped – but everyone should have.
Especially the two people who are the heart and soul of this surprising and wonderful romance.
Escape Rating A: I have to say that I absolutely adore fanfiction. It’s been a saving grace this year on days when I just could not get into a book. I could drop into a piece of fanfiction and let it whisk me away to a world I already knew with characters I already loved. For hours if not days. Rereading my favorites has been a comfort this year of everything going to whack.
I’ve also written a bit of fanfiction, a long time ago. There is no feeling like pouring your heart and soul into a piece of work and getting responses and kudos and occasional constructive criticism back. I still have friends from that part of my life.
So I understood where April was coming from on more than one level. Both in just how satisfying the writing is and just how difficult it can be to maintain an identity separate from your professional life because you know the reaction you will get. It was a release for her to find somewhere that allowed her to be her authentic self at work as well as in the fanfiction community.
Her story was also a beautiful piece of wish-fulfillment. Many, many, MANY fans of media properties have had that fantasy of meeting the actor playing their dream character and having a happy ever after romance with them, in spite of all the odds against it.
What made April’s story special was that her wish-fulfillment was wrapped around Marcus accepting her and loving her for exactly who she really is – not for some magical transformation to make her more acceptable or conventional in some way. And that her part of that journey was to put herself first and remove toxic relationships from her life, even if those relationships were with her parents. Even if that relationship was with the love of her life.
It was also great that Marcus’ life wasn’t perfect either. He also had toxic relationships to either cut off or change, and what made those relationships toxic was completely different, but every bit as real, as April’s. They both need to get to better places, more authentic places in their lives. And it was crucial that they don’t help each other get there directly but rather give each other the strength to walk their own paths in their own ways.
Even when that path forced them to part because they had – or rather Marcus had – violated that authenticity with April.
In addition to the lovely, charming, beautiful romance between April and Marcus, there are also plenty of laugh out loud aspects to this story.
It’s easy to see the parallels between Gate of the Gods and Game of Thrones, and that’s obviously intended. From a certain perspective, Spoiler Alert is fanfiction about the entire production of GOT, and the tongue-in-cheek nods and send ups of GOT make the whole thing that much funnier. Especially when it seems like half the cast is writing fanfic under various pseudonyms in order to anonymously stick it to the douchecanoe showrunners.
The whole story is kind of an in-joke on an in-joke and all the funnier – and occasionally more poignant for it. So read Spoiler Alert for the romance, but stay for the tremendous fannish fun.
Just read this book, period, exclamation point, if you’re looking for a wonderfully nuanced romance! There’s a reason – actually there are LOTS of reasons, why Spoiler Alert has been on so many Best Books lists this year. See for yourself!
OMG there’s going to be a sequel! SQUEE!