The relationships that younger people have today are complex and far-reaching. They spend a lot of their time in the realms of digital media and popular culture, hence some of the terms they use – like fandom – are odd and confusing to us. But Danika Stone has written a novel that not only allows many of us some insight into the world of fandom culture, but gives younger readers some groundwork to start a discussion about their obsessions. So readers can explore All The Feels on a multitude of levels.
If she’d been feeling ambitious, Liv might have picked up groceries and persuaded Xander to teach her another of his “soon to be famous” recipes. With three little brothers and a mom who worked nights, he had taught himself how to cook. As Xander always said, “it was that or starve,” but Liv had been proctoring in the audio lab all afternoon – adjusting audio levels for amateur musical performances – and by the time she made it back, she was wiped. Besides, Liv reasoned, whenever Xander cooked, he talked . . . And tonight she wasn’t in the mood to hear about his latest cosplay ideas, or – worse yet – his last date with Arden, his bubbly girlfriend. The duo make a striking couple. (Liv could see that as much as anyone.) Arden was light and laughter to Xander’s brooding looks, but Liv wasn’t in the mood to hear about their evident happiness.
She was grieving.
Liv flopped onto the couch and pulled out her phone to scroll through the latest postings on the various Spartan websites. Almost a week after the Christmas Eve release, there were spoilers everywhere. The entire Starveil fandom was in an uproar over Spartan’s death. Liv’s throat grew thick and painful, and she searched until she found a fix-it AU, posted just today. She was halfway through reading it when she heard the garage door open. Katherine swirled through the doorway, coat flapping like the sails of a ship.
“Dinner’s on!” she called, dropping a moisture-soaked bag onto the floor of the entrance.
Stone has brilliantly wrapped up so many concepts and issues in her story about college freshman Liv. We do read about Liv’s obsession about the “Starveil” movie franchise but we also get to experience Liv’s anxiety about: friends, relationships, her mother, death, school, money, and so forth. But Stone has managed to keep all those issues flowing through the story, making the plot easy to read.
“If you wanted to go out to a movie sometime,” she gasped. “Like . . . Like a date or something.”
The bomb dropped.
She waited, but Hank didn’t move. He stared at her for a long time. Live felt like she was caught in a movie, and everyone else had switched into slow motion, but she hadn’t. She was certain at least thirty seconds passed before he blinked, like the film he was in had been on pause and he had abruptly caught up to her.
Hank smiled, but his time it was a different sort of smile. A weaker one. “Liv, I . . . I don’t know what to say.” He beamed down at her, but it wasn’t the toothy grin she knew. This was something else. Something that hurt the inside of her chest. “I’m flattered. Really, I am. But I have to say no.”
“What?” The word was the sound of someone kicked in the gut.
Hank’s smile faltered. “I can’t. I mean, I’d love to, if I didn’t have a girlfriend.” He winced. “And I felt that way about you.”
Liv turned away from him. Her stomach roiled. The only possible way this situation could get worse was if she did throw up. “Oh my God.” She pushed past a gaggle of girls lingering outside the doorway and headed down the hall. She needed to get away!
She waled faster, vision tunneling down. Now she felt like she might pass out. Oh God, her mind screamed. What have I done?
Not only has Stone kept the language clear and concise here but uses phrases and terms appropriate to the age. Many of my followers have stated they have had problems finding books for younger readers because much of the language used in today’s selections seem stilted and dated. This book uses terms and phrases that are common usage today. Stone has not only come up with an interesting story line here but also must have researched terms and technology well.
Liv glared at the laptop screen, the cursor pulsing in time to her thoughts. There was footage on her hard drive: used segments from the bonus features of various Starveil films and twice as many outtakes with Xander, music and audio clips. It was all there, ready to make and #SpartanSurvived vid.
She just needed to break her promise to do it.
“Liv?” her mother called from outside her bedroom “Can we talk?”
Liv slid her chair over to the door and locked it.
“Liv, sweetie,” her mother pleaded, “I know you’re angry I talked to Gary, but if you’d listen you’ll-”
Liv put on her headphones and hit Play.
The well-known trill of the Starveil theme flooded her ears, and she let out a sobbing laugh, overwhelmed by emotion. This was it. This was where she felt at home. Not at the dinner table with Gary! Not doing stupid school projects that didn’t matter. The sound of her mother’s knocking faded, and Liv sighed in relief. She needed this the same way she needed air. The last few weeks, she’d felt trapped, but now she was free.
Decision made, Live opened the video editor and smiled.
It was time to bring that passion back to fandom.
Danika Stone has written a great and modern book with All The Feels. The story line is easy to read yet covers a multitude of issues that concerns younger readers. In short a great and enlightening read for any age.