Okay, let me preface this entire thing by saying I’m so sorry I’ve been absent for the past couple months; uni got really busy all of a sudden and I just haven’t had time to read anything, let alone review it. Thank you all for sticking around 😅!!
I actually won this book as part of a giveaway! It was run by Dave @TheWriteReads (y’all should go give him support, he’s a superhero) and the author, Anna Day, who so generously gave a free copy of both The Fandom and its sequel, The Fandom Rising!! Thank you SO MUCH to you both; here’s the honest review in exchange 😊
Title: The Fandom
Author: Anna Day
Genre: YA, Dystopia
Format: Paperback, 402 pages
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Blurb (from back of book):
Violet and her friends love being part of the fandom for The Gallows Dance. But at Comic-Con, they’re somehow catapulted into the story itself – for real.
Trapped in a twisted world where they’ve accidentally killed the original hero, Rose, there’s only one way to survive: Violet must fill Rose’s shoes and put the plot back on track. No story is worth dying for… is it?
Oh. My. God.
I did not expect to enjoy this book anywhere near as much as I did. I’ll be the first to admit it took me a while to get into it – the beginning is pretty similar to plenty of other YA books, and the characters didn’t feel particularly special. I put it down in September, then picked it up again last week because I happened to have a free evening.
Boy, am I glad I picked it back up.
Given the sheer amount of YA dystopian novels I’ve read, I figured I’d seen pretty much everything. This book, however, gave me a pleasant surprise. For one, the plotline is something fresh; obviously I’ve read books where people fall into magical worlds (alongside a hefty amount of self-insert fanfic), but I’ve never actually come across one that works.
What’s most impressive about the whole thing is that Day has essentially written two novels. First up is The Gallows Dance, home to the crazy dystopia into which the protagonists fall – I wouldn’t mind reading this alone, to be honest, though it definitely takes a solid amount of inspiration from books like Red Queen and Divergent (not a huge fan).
Then we have our actual book, The Fandom. My God. I’ve never read anything like this before. Given that we’re basically told the ending right at the start of the novel, I expected to get bored about half-way through, but that never happened. I literally carried this book with me to uni so I could read before a meeting, and sat up tonight to finish it because I wound up being so invested. Like, the amount of plotting and work that went into this thing is insane.
What really works for this book is how it plays with the genre, and makes fun of it. Violet is obviously a fan of plenty of YA Dystopian books – The Hunger Games and Divergent are both heavily referenced, and I cackled aloud at one of the jibes at how characters are named in the books. Day does a really good job of following all the conventions, but spinning them into something completely different to your usual tale.
World-building is fairly standard for a dystopian novel; humanity is split into the super-human Gems, and the sub-human Imps, with the latter facing persecution at every turn. Think Red Queen and you’ll have a rough idea of how it works, then add a lot more hanging and you’re pretty much there.
All the settings of a broken, derelict London are described beautifully, with Day putting a real emphasis on smell – it’s something that’s usually glossed over in descriptions, but it really helps to pad out the world of this book, make it feel real. My one lingering memory of this is the way in which Violet is amazed by how real everything is.
Moving on to characters – I only just realised how big a supporting cast there is to this novel, and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work well. Every character is developed properly, even if they have only the tiniest bit of screen-time.
Violet grows as a protagonist – her narrative voice isn’t even slightly irritating, which makes a nice change from the self-pitying whinging of Red Queen’s Mare. She’s nervous and unsure of herself at the start of the book, but slowly gains confidence in her own abilities – I really love how she diverts from the ‘canon’ of The Gallows Dance according to her own beliefs. Not many people would take the chance to berate the love interest for being a tool, but she does and I love her for it.
Alice is my least favourite of the main four. Though she gets more development in the sequel, The Fandom Rising, she spends the majority of this book being a bit of a prick. Don’t get me wrong, she’s developed and I can understand where she’s coming from, but like… nah.
Katie, by contrast, is my favourite. She’s the only one who’s never read The Gallows Dance, and is constantly confused. Plus, she constantly spouts Shakespeare and basically I wish I was her. She gets waay less screen-time than Violet and Nate, something I hope gets remedied in the sequel!
Nate is my other favourite. He’s Violet’s genius 14 year-old brother who is also a huge fan of all things dystopian, and he provides the main voice of reason throughout the novel. He’s witty, fast-talking, and to be honest he’s pretty much the only reason any of them make it to the halfway point of the book alive.
Ash is also a really cute character – I love the idea of him developing outside of the original canon for The Gallows Dance, and honestly. He’s so much better than the other romantic interest. He’s sweet, caring, everything that the usual YA romantic interest is lacking. (Put simply: he’s the Jacob Black of this series)
There are so many others I could talk about here, but those are the main characters – what I love is that each and every secondary character gets their own ending too!
I cried a fair amount reading the ending third of this novel. My poor flatmate walked into the kitchen to find me sniffling over it. Sorry dude. Hey, at least it’s only a duology – soon I’ll be done with the second one and the crying will stop, but anyway I digress.
This is a solid YA dystopian novel, with just the right amount of action and romance to make it a keeper! The characters are kinda 2D at the very start, that I’ll grant you, but the story picks up the pace quickly, and you wind up being dragged along at one hell of a pace 😂
There we have it! A whole review! I can’t say there’ll be many more before Christmas, since I have a lot of stuff coming up, but lately I’ve managed to read a lot more for myself – maybe I’ll catch up on reviews over Christmas break?
Have any of you read The Fandom? Anyone got a YA dystopian that they love the MOST!?
Lots of love,