Ship It was so good. Not only was it nuanced, but it was downright entertaining. I felt like Ship It understood me in ways I didn’t really expect – but loved nonetheless.
Claire is a sixteen-year-old fangirl obsessed with the show Demon Heart. Forest is an actor on Demon Heart who dreams of bigger roles. When the two meet at a local Comic-Con panel, it’s a dream come true for Claire. Until the Q&A, that is, when Forest laughs off Claire’s assertion that his character is gay. Claire is devastated. After all, every last word of her super-popular fanfic revolves around the romance between Forest’s character and his male frenemy. She can’t believe her hero turned out to be a closed-minded jerk. Forest is mostly confused that anyone would think his character is gay. Because he’s not. Definitely not.
Unfortunately for Demon Heart, when the video of the disastrous Q&A goes viral, the producers have a PR nightmare on their hands. In order to help bolster their image within the LGBTQ+ community-as well as with their fans-they hire Claire to join the cast for the rest of their publicity tour. What ensues is a series of colourful Comic-Con clashes between the fans and the show that lead Forest to question his assumptions about sexuality and help Claire come out of her shell. But how far will Claire go to make her ship canon? To what lengths will Forest go to stop her and protect his career? And will Claire ever get the guts to make a move on Tess, the very cute, extremely cool fanartist she keeps running into?
So I just need to preface this entire thing, but saying I loved Ship It so much. I have been reading a lot of books about conventions and fandom, but this one has made it into my top! If not the top! There’s fanfiction, conversations about sexuality, and questioning representation.
So without further ado, I’m making a list of reasons why you should read Ship It.
- The fandom aspect of this book is entirely relateable. Not only are there conventions, panels, and cosplay, but there’s also real discussion about what it’s like to (not) be ashamed of your fandom. To be able to proudly own what you enjoy even if people don’t understand it around you.
- The diversity here was amazing. Not only is one of the characters pansexual and incredibly open about it, there’s also questioning representation. I want more of this representation. I want more people not sure what they are and having to figure it out – or not really knowing.
- Both of our characters, scratch that, all of our main characters, and the ones I liked, were stunning. They were characters who were empathetic, who made some awful mistakes, who were flawed, and who had to learn a lot. There was growth here and I am a sucker for growth. Not to mention they were clever, funny, and kind hearted to boot.
- There are great conversations about privilege and representation in the media. Not only are some characters called out for only caring about certain types of representation, issues such as queerbaiting and whitewashing is incredibly important. In a world where the representation we see is so important, queerbaiting and white washing are incredibly harmful – so is the disavowal or the disapproval these media members have for thosew ho see that in their art forms. In fact, the book revolves around these very issues.
- I couldn’t get enough of the discussion between the line between fanfiction and the writers, fans and actors, and conventions and participants. When does the show or book belong to the readers? At the same time, there was this discussion about the appearance we cultivate – the social media and PR life we live. There are so many amazing ‘lines’ that are drawn and re-drawn such as fanart versus art, or reality versus fiction.
- I love alternating perspectives so so much and this one features Claire and Forest. Even more so, there are chapters that are Claire’s fanfiction stories – so stories within stories within stories.
It’s a struggle for each of us to be true to ourselves – to find a shred of an answer when we wonder who we are. But it’s even more important when we find it, to be true to it. Ship It needs to be on your summer TBR. Go find it on Goodreads.