In middle school, everyone was a Fever Dream fan. Now, a few weeks after her high school graduation, Grace Thomas sometimes feels like the only one who never moved on. She can't imagine what she'd do without the community of online fans that share her obsession. Or what her IRL friends would say if they ever found out about it.
Then, one summer night, the unthinkable happens: Grace meets her idol, Jes. What starts out as an elusive glimpse of Fever Dream's world turns into an unlikely romance, and leads her to confront dark, complex truths about herself and the realities of stardom.
I don’t even know how to review this. It hit SO CLOSE to my one direction loving heart and I am overwhelmed by da feels. Just know, I liked this A LOT. Buddy reading it with Jane was the best possible experience. If you are or ever have been a directioner, READ THIS BOOK.
Well I made it further this time. And my opinion has mostly stayed the same, but with a few changes.
1) This book is written in third person present tense. It reads like the Planet Earth documentary, and it is extremely annoying (even though I was imagining David Attenborough's voice narrating). This POV and tense combination invites the reader to be outside the story and not actively engage with the characters. In turn, it makes all the little quirks and annoyances the characters have seem even bigger because I, as the reader, don't care about the characters because I was never drawn into the story in the first place.
2) My biggest complaint is that I don't understand Grace. She comes across as having zero personality or any sort of oomph to her. She goes with the flow, but only because she is extremely indecisive and doesn't know what she wants for herself. Her thoughts and actions almost seem....trippy. They are so back and forth that I can't make sense of them. Grace gets swept up in the world of her favorite boyband, but the whole thing reads like a scene out of Alice in Wonderland. There is nothing of substance for me to grab on to and think "Yes, I understand this". Instead, I feel like everything just sort of floats above the surface of whatever point the author is trying to make (granted, maybe the point was made by the end of the book, but I think by 55% I should know where the theme is going).
3) I enjoyed the boys of Fever Dream much more this time around. Unfortunately, seeing them through Grace's eyes watered down their personalities, but I could see some things I really liked. Sadly, it still wasn't enough to keep me reading.
I'm currently going through a One Direction phase, so I'm gonna give this book another go....
DNF @ 30%
Yeah so I just plain don't like this. The MC annoys me, and the band boys have zero personality. I'm out.
Here’s the short version of my review: this is a really great book about a girl in that liminal summer between high school and college who becomes unexpectedly swept up with a boyband, the very object of her secret obsession. It’s a book that deals with all the messy, uncomfortable parts of both fandom and being a teenager, and recognizes the power and danger in both. You should read it, even if you're not into boybands or fandom, because the story is compelling (I think) beyond those facets.
But I'm also going to write a long, inside-fandom, thing right here: I became a One Direction fan extremely suddenly last fall, like falling off a cliff. Many people more eloquent than I am have written about the bizarre, endearing, compelling world of 1D fandom and all its concomitant conspiracy theorizing, and I won’t try to parse that here. But I will say that to date the most accurate description of how I feel as a 1D fan comes from another fan quoted in Cosmo: “Being a fan reminds me a lot of being a fan of Lost, actually […] Also like Lost, loving One Direction makes me feel like if I can just stick it out to the end — when the band breaks up, maybe, or when the first memoir drops — I'll be rewarded for my time and devotion with a big reveal of major gossip and secrets, or, better yet, confirmation that my own theories were correct all along." That's the trick of 1D: like with Lost, deep down we know we won't ever feel anything but disappointed by what’s behind the curtain. But we crave that knowledge anyway.
So I was excited to read this book for—among other reasons—the tantalizing promise of Answers. I mean, I knew it was fiction. But I was still interested to see, within the constraints of a novel, which truths Zan wrung out of the colossus of 1D mythology. GRACE starts off as a comfortable, familiar “imagine”—what if an impossibly cute, tragically mysterious boyband member turned up unexpectedly in your life and pulled you right along into his? I'd be lying if I said I never entertained such a daydream, and wish-fulfillment (be it self-insert, or shipping two characters) is a popular trope in fanfic. But the very form—and potency—of fic as a whole is predicated on the ability to continually rewrite and reimagine an ending (and each individual fic often tells you upfront, via tags, which ending you're heading toward, so you can effectively choose your own most-satisfying adventure). GRACE, by contrast, forces you to see a single trajectory all the way through, with plenty of both discomfort and catharsis along the way.
That’s the word I kept coming back to when describing this book to friends: cathartic. And I think this is ultimately because Fever Dream isn’t 1D. It wouldn’t exist without 1D, sure, but GRACE collages and reworks the familiar character traits and tropes just enough to give us all plenty of fodder to argue about who is who without being able to neatly map the boys one to one. The answers we get then, are satisfying in a way they could never be for 1D, whose own fantastical lore has outgrown any possible reality. In this book, there’s just one story about Fever Dream, which means that—until FD fandom writes its own fic, I guess—there is just one truth. And isn’t that, sort of, the dream.
Yazar bu kitabı neden yazmış anlayamadım. İnatla sonuna kadar okudum, ki bu kitabı bitirdiysem, bundan sonra başka kitapları hayatta yarım bırakmam. Aşk, aile, arkadaşlık hiçbir konu yoktu. Tek konu, Grace’in bir müzik grubuna hayran olması ve bu grupla yaşadığı 1-2 olaydan ibaretti. Ergen triplerini içeren kitapları bile mumla arattı.
Yazar, hiçbir şey anlatmadığı gibi, kitaba bir son yazmayı da unutmuştu. Sanki bir serinin giriş kitabı gibi epilog kısmı deriiiiiiiin bir boşluktan ibaretti; yoktu.😃
Bir sürü kitabın çevrilmesini beklerken, isterken, neden bu kitabı seçtiklerini merak ettim.😒😒🙄🙄
Not: Kitabın nasıl konu ve duygu kıtlığı çektiğini, yazdığım kısa yorumdan bile anlayabilirsiniz.🙊🙊
Four reasons why fangirls will love Grace and the Fever
She’s flawed in a way all of us fangirls are. I don’t know about you but if you put me in front of the members of All Time Low, I lose my ability to speak and have to remember to ACT COOL. At age 33, Even though I’ve met them more times than I can count. So when Grace ends up in a room with her boys, she doesn’t exactly do the 100% right thing. But she does do what most young fangirls might do.
Her online engagement is on point. If you are in the thick of your fandom, you know how things go. There are cliques. Levels of fan-ness. Your go-to spot for news. YOUR PEOPLE. Grace embodies it all with her online persona and Tumblr account.
She’s not 100% out about her obsession. To her IRL friends and family, her fangirl obsession ended in tween-land. Unfortunately, it’s just not cool to be a fangirl. I was teased pretty terribly about my NSYNC obsession in high school (whatever, don’t be jealous that I owned the dolls) and even in my 30s, people don’t quite understand my relationship with my fandoms. Or why getting meet and greet EVERY All Time Low show is the upmost importance. Or why I sobbed the one year I was too broke to buy my tickets during presale (thank you to Yasmeen who saved my butt with meet and greet tickets).
Watching a band from behind the scenes will remind you that they are people too. Grace gets a healthy dose of reality in getting to know her favorite band from behind the scenes. Hopefully it doesn’t ruin the magic ;).
The delicious, bittersweet sister of Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl. In Grace and the Fever the protagonist crosses paths with the singer of her favorite boy band. What follows is a thoughtful ode on celebrity, summer vacation, fandom, and girlhood. It will make you tremble, even if your expiration date for boy band obsessiveness came and passed long ago.
Romanoff's greatest trick is taking fanfiction tropes—your average Betty Sue meets gorgeous world-famous teenage idol! They maybe fall in love!—and indulging them enough to make your heart happy while undermining them enough to tickle your brain. I am in awe of this clever manipulation of a tale as old as time.
I quite liked this and I'm still trying to pin down why. Gracefully messy, an accurate portrait of the intricacies of fandom, and full of friendships and relationships that are satisfyingly tangled and bittersweet.
She had no personality, no appeal at all. But she did like a boy band!!! That should be enough to descurbe her as a person. Okay, so we know nothing about her except that she likes a boyband and she feels alienated because of that, but she obviously has to have some kind of special spark to her if her dreamy-half desi but disconnected from his culture-ethnic-exotic-not like the other guys-popstar-angelic singing-heartthrob-bad boy-crazed fangirl attracting idol picked her, given his elite status and recent breakup with an renowned model, and the fact that she's reportedly talentless with no passions and a very average personality with no strong leading trait. But no. She is y/n and needs her idol to make her feel validated because plain women who are like unseasoned bread left and with default settings need a guy to teach them who they are; a not plain person but rather famous guy's girlfriend. Hey Grace, maybe try stuff you haven't tried and find a passion rather than stick to a pretty boy from a band, whose personality is not even expanded on either but rather is replaced with sickeningly specific details about the contours of his face and his perfect hair! end. my. SUFFERING!
Grace and the Fever is a pretty good YA book. It’s about a girl who’s a huge fan of a boy band (Fever Dream), a blogger and a tinhat shipper — she believes two of the band members are secretly dating — who then accidentally gets sucked into their world. She finds that all is not what it seems from within the fandom, and she gets to know the bands as people in all of their various complexities.
It’s also about a girl about to go off to college, struggling with how to maintain multiple identities (her secret fandom blog, her everyday life, and then eventually her secret entanglements with the band), worried about growing apart from her friends as they all grow into different people, and trying to figure out who she really is and wants to be. I enjoyed all of these aspects of the story, even more than the directly fannish bits — surprising though that is.
Grace is not my favorite kind of protagonist, based purely on personal preference; she tends toward the passive, non-communicative, and non-introspective ends of those spectrums. She spends a lot of her time worrying and insecure, in ways that feel real but are not what I prefer to read about. (This prompted me to start an essay I’ve been meaning to write for a while in which I try to hash out what kinds of protagonists I do like, but it’s far from finished, so I won’t share here). I did appreciate the ways she grew over the course of the novel, though. And so, on the whole, I liked her and the story pretty well.
Some of the things I enjoyed most were the bits about Grace’s relationships with her friends from high school and from fandom, and eventually with her new college roommate — and with her mom, especially toward the end. (Though none of the characters other than Grace have as much complexity or are as fleshed out as I would like.) I also enjoyed the descriptions of how it feels to a conspiracy theorist when not all aspects of the fans’ conspiracy theories turns out to be exactly true. (That’s really not a spoiler; the whole point of her interacting with the band is that everyone and everything is more complicated than she thought. Unshockingly.) I think my enjoyment of that aspect may have largely been schadenfreude, though, after weathering some absurd tinhat conspiracy theories recently that turned my own fandom & ship upside down and made it thoroughly infamous across online fan spaces.
I was surprised how little I related to a lot of the fandom stuff, given how deep in fandom I’ve been, and I’ve been trying to figure out why. I mean, I’ve even been a fan of singers/bands (though I think it turns out to be different to be a fan of Peter Gabriel, and a shipper of me/Peter Gabriel, than to be a fan of the band dynamics as a whole, and to ship two band members together — and to do so in the 1990’s vs the 2010’s…. very different fan cultures in a number of ways.) And I’m sure I related to all of it way more than people who aren’t at all fannish. But maybe I partly don’t feel a deep connection because the book doesn’t really talk much about how Grace participates in the fandom, aside from a very occasional excerpt of a blog post, and references to watching videos of the boys and listening to their music and obsessing over the meanings of their tattoos. What makes her heart pound the hardest? When she runs (as she does a lot), is she remembering her favorite fanfic plots about them, or thinking about how every line of the music she’s listening to might relate to her ship? When she’s working at her summer coffee shop job, does she imagine the boys in a coffee shop AU (alternate universe), or imagine them showing up as surprise customers one day as she works there? I wanted to see more squee moments, to feel her squee more, I guess, to really “get” her fannish experience and buy into it. I think perhaps to get the most enjoyment of these parts of the book, it helps to be in the One Direction fandom, which this was clearly based off of, because then you can get where she’s coming from with fewer references.
The other thing is, I’ve never been a conspiracy theorist, or had sympathy for that aspect of fandom. I’ve always found the conspiracy theorists who are buried in their confirmation biases about encoded messages in wardrobes and wallpapers and so on to be pretty unrelatable, and often terrible to other fans, and/or to the creators of whatever they’re fannish of. (And often very smug about it all.) Grace, at least, is mostly not any of these things. But she does talk about "having faith" in the ship in a way that sounds rather religious (and similarly nigh improvable), and also sounds like the conspiracy theorists I've seen. I guess since that’s never been my part of fandom, I wasn’t feeling familiar twinges, and was instead battling some pretty severe judginess. Though I did really enjoy all the authentic sounding “Lolly” (Land/Solly) shipper Tumblr posts and other fan communications that were included in the story for their style, if not substance; I’ve always been a sucker for good multimedia storytelling, and texting/social media in stories.
All in all, this book was a bit less substantial than I would have liked in a number of dimensions, but a quick and enjoyable read. I'm very curious to hear what any of my non-fandom friends think if they end up reading it, because I at least probably have a lot more context just by hanging out on Tumblr. :)
This is a hard one. I don't know how I feel about it. For a while it was tough to read just because it was the point of view of a larry, someone big into larry fandom, and that was just super cringey and second hand embarrassing to me. The romance between Grace and Jes was nothing I didn't expect or hadn't read before, it was cute. I guess what bothered me was the accuracy of the tumblr posts dissecting everything "Land" and "Solly" did. It was too real. I was uncomfortable at the lack of fourth wall, at the fact that I was reading this in a mainstream book and not on the Internet.
I would probably be fine with it if the characters were a little less obviously Harry, Louis, and Zayn. The book's lesson is that when you ship real people you need to think about the consequences that your actions have in the real world, and that these are people, not fictional characters. It is a good lesson. But it is immediately invalidated (probably not the right word) by the fact that the book itself is about real people being treated as fictional characters. I don't know. I think the author did a great job at looking at issues of race, gender, and sexuality within fandom as well as outside of it, but this glaring issue kind of makes me second guess the book.
Also, what is up with making Jes (Zayn) Christian? If you're changing many details then fine, but this book was not shying away from making Jes obviously Zayn, or fandom's idea of Zayn, so why change this one thing about him? It seems odd to address his race but not his religion when both are so intertwined in real life.
I really want more of my friends to read this book so we can talk about it. I'm curious to hear others' thoughts. I think it was a really good and accurate and fair portrayal of fandom. I just am unsure about the other issues.
I wanted to like this book, I really did! I kept reading, thinking it was going to get better but it just never did. The main problems......... 1. I just didn't really like the main character. I don't know if I am unable to relate to the whole boy-band obsession thing but aside from her Fever Dream blogging that irritated the crud out of me, her personality was also annoying. The complaining about being a weirdo all the time when in fact the character didn't say or do anything (aside from the boy-band crap) that was weird. She was often quite clever in fact. Listening to her think about herself being a weirdo and over thinking all the friendship stuff - SUPER ANNOYING!!!
2. Her entire relationship with Jes felt baseless. Nothing about the conversations they had warranted any emotion from either of them. It felt like the beginning of something the entire time, so when he kissed her, my reactions was "WHAT?? WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?" The author's attempt to create meaningful interaction between them failed - she jumped to "deep" conversation to soon, never giving the friendship a baseline, so the "deep" conversations still felt superficial. There was no chemistry or romantic tension at all. Plus, in a lot of ways she was really terrible to the band - so when Jes got in touch with her at the end; it felt completely unrealistic. To top it off; Grace left telling they could never be............if you are writing a book aimed at boy-band lovers; you need a happy ending!! Isn't that what they are all dreaming of??
Overall - this was annoying book. I think the only way I actually finished it (once I realized it wasn't going to get any better) was because I was stranded at my friend's house watching her kids while she was at the hospital with her husband. Desperate times and all.
The first in a group of really well-executed books published this year that aren't about One Direction, but are TOTALLY about One Direction.
Grace is about to head off to Kenyon College when she has an unexpected encounter with Jes Holloway from Fever Dream (think Harry Styles combined with Zayn Malik) that upends all her notions of what it means to be a fan, along with her understanding of herself as an expert in the band she loves.
Grace is very quickly swept up into Jes' world, walking a tricky line between secret superfan and love interest. Romanoff's deft handling of the band's elaborate public fictions and secrets -- fueled equally by themselves and their devoted fans -- is particularly notable here.
I also recently read & loved Public Relations, by Katie Heaney and Arianna Rebolini. If you relish pondering what goes on behind the scenes in celebrityland (hint: it’s a ton of emotional labor! Mostly done by women! Many of whom on the fan side go unpaid!), you will, too.
I- okay. Well. I know a lot of this was based on One Direction specifically, and their fandom, so some of those specifics were lost on me but it was all very very similar to what I've experienced in my own fandoms so it didn't really matter. This book gave me a lot to think about and work through, personally, as a longtime groupie/superfangirl. For instance, the crossover between being the fangirl super invested in the fandom with all of your online fandom friends etc etc, but then actually getting to know the band in real life as actual people and becoming friends - can you somehow keep a foot in both worlds? If not, which is worth giving up? The biggest dream is always to get to know your fave raves on a personal level, be someone they can hang out with, call, text, etc. But is that worth having your whole sort of happy magical exciting world come crumbling down? Suddenly they're just regular people and you don't have all of that joy and excitement and fun anymore? How do you spend your days? Do you find something else that you can hopefully love just as much? What if you can't? Tbh you probably can't, because a fandom love like this comes along RARELY. It becomes such a part of you, becomes almost your whole world.
All that being said... I found Grace very dreary and bland. For someone who supposedly loved this band so much, you didn't see it, you didn't feel it. There were some bits and pieces where the author described fandom love SO WELL!!! And some really beautiful, meaningful descriptions. (And I saw that little Almost Famous Tiny Dancer moment she tried to have - it didn't have anywhere near the same level of impact, but sweet of her to try lol). But these bits and pieces didn't match how Grace was actually acting the rest of the time. Her friend Katy would message her more in the way I would expect - all the excited CAPITALS and freaking out etc etc, and Grace was always just like. "meh." Like what are you even doing here, Grace. Find some emotions. There was nothing to show that she cared in the way she was supposed to care. Even towards the start of the book there was mention of how she wanted to get out of the fandom and leave it behind. No thx.
And then the BOYS! Honestly the boys didn't give me much either. They felt very typical "we are a famous band" and I didn't see much of anything to really like about them. They weren't too well developed. Or they were just lame. Maybe they were just lame and not at all a band I would fall for. I choose my bands wisely... lots of heart and kindness and humor and intelligence, and emotional intelligence. I wasn't getting any of that from them, really. They were just regular dudes. Dudes who were dealing with fame and struggling. Not so much my cup of tea. Honestly I'm a little bit sick of this - every book or movie having to do with a band ends up like this. Always about the struggle, never a nice, happy ending. Maybe that's realistic but I'm over it. We don't need to glamorize fame and rock and roll and so on like we do if none of it actually makes anyone happy, or able to be healthy and grounded and have positive healthy close relationships, romantic or otherwise.
Also found it slightly weird that the boys in the band had this Christian background - it seemed kind of randomly thrown in for no particular reason because I'm not sure if there's a real life equivalent that she was trying to make parallels to? A few other details felt a bit off like that to me but again, I think they were attempts at 1D parallels.
But all that being said... I did enjoy it, lol!! It was very much up my street and very VERY relatable for anyone who's ever been heavily involved in a fandom, and loved a band so much that it ~*~hurts~*~.
UPDATE, 8/29/18: Reading this again was just... It was magical? I have little additional insight to give, but here, quick, a quote I posted a year ago in an in-the-moment update that I think deserves more airtime:
"you can't make homes out of human beings someone should have already told you that and if he wants to leave then let him leave you are terrifying and strange and beautiful something not everyone knows how to love" - Warsan Shire, "For Women who are 'Difficult' To Love"
This is a book about many things, but at its heart it's a book about Grace, who feels too cumbersome and large and loud and passionate and too prickly for others to handle, who constantly feels like too much and, as a result, carves herself into discrete pieces, hoping that those shards of herself are correctly sized for the people around her. Hoping that, by dividing herself, she can keep those most fragile elements safe from harm. Hoping that she can make herself smaller, quieter, less difficult -- easier to and more deserving of love. Hoping that people won't tire of loving those shards of herself, as they inevitably would of the confusing, overwhelming, riotous whole.
To bifurcate one's self is in many ways part of the human condition. Code switching, or presenting different versions of yourself in different settings, or Goffman's front stage/back stage dichotomy -- that's all part of who we are and how we seek to exist in an increasingly fragmented world. Grace understands that, even if Grace herself doesn't, until the end, until circumstance forces her to reconcile the fragmented pieces of herself.
But the Grace who emerges is stronger. She is more than the sum of her parts, greater than the disparate pieces she tapes back together. She has finally, finally learned that she can't make homes out of human beings: whether they be human beings she idolizes from afar or human beings so close she can reach out and touch them, they cannot be homes for her, they cannot be the soil in which she plants herself. They can be anchor points (like Cara, like Lianne, like Katy) who remind her of who she is, who she has been, who she is capable of becoming -- but they cannot be home, entire.
This is a book about figuring that out. About learning to be your self, entire. Your home, entire. It's a book about being too much, too big, too difficult, burning with a fever that threatens to consume you.
It's a book about girls who are difficult to love, learning to love themselves.
6/16/17: This book was good enough to make me want to fall headfirst back into fandom. That doesn't sound like a lot, but boy oh boy is it!!
Reading "Grace and the Fever" was like peering into a time warp, staring at myself four years ago and remembering what it was to care so fully about something, about five boys you've never met and never will meet. About what it feels like to know every inch of their public lives, to know their voices so intimately you can pick them out of a harmony like dissecting a frog in high school science class. Loving something so intensely and wholly is a beautiful thing, and something I miss; sometimes I think life is a little dimmer without it.
But listening to One Direction while reading this book felt like a love letter to who I used to be. It was tender and confused and confusing, wrought with pain and struggle and loss. Deeply bittersweet, this is a coming of age story that grips you by the heartstrings and tugs and tugs and tugs until you feel yourself fully immersed. Maybe it's just because Grace is a shadow of who I used to be, but I found myself forgetting that the novel was written in third-person. Grace was just so REAL to me, so fully realized and present, that it was hard to remember it wasn't written in first-person. I was so immersed that I literally only stood up from the couch once during my marathon reading session, and it was to help my mum set the table. #benicetoyourmum
More than just reminding me of little-Kim, this book had SO MUCH GOOD in it!!! Which is why I had to essentially live-blog it here and on Twitter, because I just wanted to TALK about it, to share it with people. There are beautiful discussions of growing up and feeling lost in your own body, of fearing you'll leave your childhood friends behind and fearing the little voice inside that's maybe excited about that prospect.
There are especially beautiful passages about the importance of viewing people complexly, as real human beings with thoughts and fears and dreams, rather than the public facades they present. It felt like a distillation of Erving Goffman's theories about the presentation of the self, about the personalities we present in the front stage (our public personas, who we want the world to see) and the personalities we keep hidden backstage. Nowhere does this theory present itself more clearly than in the realm of celebrity, and this novel did a good job of exploring Goffman's theories through that lens. Simultaneously, it played with ideas of the Rashomon-like impossibilities of knowing what is "real" or "true" -- after all, as Romanoff says, "Something can be real, and not at all true."
(Can you tell from that last paragraph that I went to the elite liberal arts school Grace winds up at in the end?! Because yes, my secret favorite part of this novel was all the KENYON SHOUTOUTS, hellooooooo alma mater!)
And underneath it all, underneath the layers of identity questioning and adolescent love, was this, the true thesis of the book (imo): the immense power of young girls. Girls are amazing, they're magical, they're passionate and remarkable and FULL in a way that sometimes women don't allow ourselves to be. Young girls who latch onto the things they love like a limpet, refusing to let go no matter hell or high water... They're the real heroes here, the ones who deserve to be protected and loved and everything. #girlalmighty indeed
(that's a 1D joke, if you don't get it. If you're not cool like me.)
Highly, highly recommended to anyone who's an obsessive nerd such as yours truly, and perfect for middle/high school readers who often feel like they don't quite "fit in" with classmates and retreat instead to a primarily online existence. This one's for you, teens and tweens, and trust me: it's a good one.
I loved this book. I loved the writing in this book. This is the kind of writing that I would dream of writing if I were a writer. It was so lovely and dreamy and perfect. I'm not a habitual highlighter, but I highlighted THE SHIT out of this book; there were just so, so many phrases and sentences that were so amazingly written that I wanted to remember them all. Big thanks to Two Bossy Dames for the recommendation, without which I never would have picked this up.
I think my biggest complaint was that the characters were overwhelmingly white, except for Jes and Raj, and that was a little jarring.
(Note: LGBTQ+ content was a fairly large plot point, but a fairly minor character)
Grace is a recent high school graduate who is holding on to a secret: she’s still a huge fan of Fever Dream, the boy band everyone loved in middle school. For Grace, the band is still an important part of her life. (She spends a lot of time squealing over it with strangers online.) Then she gets the chance to meet her idol, and she learns the truth about celebrity. A smart coming-of-age story about learning how to move on when you realize the things you think define you are no longer important.
Backlist bump: A Song to Take the World Apart by Zan Romanoff
This book is the book of my teenage heart. It reminds me so much of the fandom hype that surrounded bands like the Jonas Brothers and One Direction. While I was more into the Jonas Brothers, I still was really into One Direction so a lot of the elements of that fandom are very recognizable to me.
Zan Romanoff really understands what it's like to be a teenage girl in love with a bad and so deep into the fandom for that band. All of the events that transpire in this book feel like realistic fanfiction—like what would ACTUALLY happen if fanfic met reality. It also reminded me a lot of the Disney Channel Original Movie Starstruck, except that the main character is in love with the band and does some pretty shitty things along the way.
Grace and the Fever follows 18 year old Grace who has just graduated from high school and is ready to go off to college in Ohio. One night, when she sneaks out to walk around her neighborhood, she comes across one of the members of her favorite band smoking a cigarette on the hood of his car. They start talking and soon, a paparazzo shows up and starts taking pictures of them. The next day, everyone wants to know who the mystery girl was with a member of one of the world's most famous boy bands. And from there, Grace's life is changed forever. She gets thrust into a world of secrets and relationships that are so different from the ones the fandom has contrived.
I think one of the weakest parts of the book, which is mostly just my preference, is that it was written in third person past tense. Normally, for contemporary books, I like to have the narration be first person present tense. While it took a little while to get used to, it ultimately didn't effect my enjoyment of the book too much. It's just a personal preference and I wish I would have been ready for it before jumping in.
Another thing I didn't really like, and which I think is important to note early on, is that some of the book revolves around the assumed relationship between two of the band members that has become a conspiracy within the fandom. There's some talk about outing them and tagging them in posts basically begging them to out themselves, which I found to be really uncomfortable. However, it was realistic of what I've seen within the One Direction fandom, unfortunately. That didn't make me as upset as seeing Grace take secret pictures of the two band members as they shared a private moment at a birthday party. The scene wasn't sexual or romantic in nature, and was taken out of context by Grace, but it was still upsetting to see that. Thankfully, those pictures do come back to bite her in the ass, but this aspect of the book is why I gave it a four star rating rather than a five star rating.
I really loved how much character development happened in this book, not only for Grace but also for the people around her. It was really refreshing to see that and to know that the characters had learned from their mistakes and were changing for the better. I think, personally, I really liked the uncertain ending mostly because I enjoy hopeful endings rather than happy ones. I love when an ending is vague and not necessarily happy, but has promise for the future.
Grace as a character felt so real and honest, and I could see a lot of myself in her. I probably wouldn't have made every mistake she did, and I would have made other mistakes, but overall she felt like someone I could relate to. She talks about how she doesn't feel like she fits in and blames herself for not being comfortable enough to drink or party. She carries a lot of embarrassment about herself as a person, and I can really relate to that.
Her relationship with the band member she meets that night, Jes, is really interesting as well. They have this palpable connection, and it's not always necessarily a romantic connection. It always felt, throughout the book, that they could have this really deep friendship with them if their lives could just line up. But they're never really at the same emotional place at the right times. They never really understand or know each other fully, but they lean on each other and look to each other for guidance, which I really loved.
I also really enjoyed getting a lot into the complex relationships between the band members. They all felt like their own people, and they definitely clashed at times, but it was clear that the love was there. It was also kind of heartbreaking to watch some of them struggle with their own issues, especially seeing it from Grace's point of view who loves them so much. It was like watching my own faves struggle, which was hard.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book! There is a lot of diversity of both sexuality and race in this book, which I think was handled really well. There's a lot of talk about coming out and the issues that come along with that, especially since the band members are from the South. There's also a lot of talk about racism and Islamophobia, since Jes is half-Indian and people assume from his brown skin that he practices Islam. There are also a few other people of color who arm mentioned throughout the book.
If you're looking for a good book about fandom, specifically fandom for teen boy bands, then this is the perfect book for you!
I love this book in the deepest places of my heart, where fandom has gone to reside and where the grumpiest teenage piece of me lives. This is a forever book. *** I don't write real reviews. I write my experience with a book. Why? Because I have books that when I read I would have rated them two stars. And I ended up moving them from Houston to LA to Houston to LA to Chicago to LA to Oakland and (whew, finally) back to LA. My favorite books are the stories that stick with me. I'll hand out five stars, but that's about it.
This was so much more amazing than I thought it would be! The writing and the characters went above and beyond my expectations, and I even found the plot enjoyable. Any member of any fandom will relate to this book and, more importantly, enjoy it. :)
I loved this book. It's about a teenage girl who loves a boy band, but it's also about the best and worst parts of fandom, the delight you find when you come across your people, and, perfectly. the patriarchy.
It's always tricky, reading books about fandom when you grew up inside of it. When you still spend much of your most enjoyable time deep in fandom as an adult. When the most significant relationships in your life were formed in fandom over the internet or strengthened in fandom IRL. When fandom is so important to you, and your identity, that you've spoken about it on a panel at SDCC. (Okay, that was a brag. But what I'm trying to say is: I'm committed to this stuff. I always have been. I can't imagine my life without it.)
So fandom stories that cast girls as silly at best and terrifying at worst, that hinge on girls growing up and out and letting fandom go as an integral piece of character development, that are about 'girl meets boy' instead of 'girl meets girl on the internet and together they screech'--those inevitably make me cranky and leave me hollow.
Grace and the Fever is not like that.
It's not a perfect book--one of my main complaints is the way Grace is barely allowed to be a character in her own story and her own interactions, held back by her own personality traits but also by the narrative, as if Grace is so convinced that her life is small and embarrassing and that she has nothing of interest to offer as a human that she convinced Zan Romanoff too. Grace takes up very little space on the page, even when she's the one narrating. This was frustrating throughout the book: a girl who feels distant and inauthentic and continues to behave and communicate in ways that are distant and inauthentic, both in and out of the story.
But next to its bandom contemporary Kill the Boy Band, which takes a rather sneering view, Grace and the Fever is kind and celebratory and refreshing. It highlights the friendships and communities forged in fandom; it documents tender love for the band (although it's very different, for me, to read about the experiences of a straight girl's relationship to the boys in the band); it captures the silliness of fandom and also the fierce protectiveness Grace feels. It shies away some from how important the band really is to Grace, but then it holds pitch-perfect lines that made me tear up, like:
"Tonight, though, she falls asleep with Burning Up playing in her headphones, the way she did so many nights in high school, because the music is almost as familiar as the sound of her own breath in her ears. Everything she put there for safekeeping is still wrapped up in the notes. The longer she waits, the more she can separate Jes from the music, and see how the music will always be full of herself."
Or describing the perhaps excessive acts of fangirls as holy in and of themselves, not undertaken out of any hope of gain, but as 'pilgrimages to show their devotion.' Seriously, there's some very good stuff in here, and Grace's story is sweet and sad and resonates, especially if you've ever felt like you were Too Much. And girls who grew up more intense about bands and movies and whatever than everyone else? We definitely feel like Too Much.
This book is especially a love letter to the 1D fandom, and Larries in particular--the way Romanoff wrote about the tattoos in particular warmed my heart. She captures the cruelty and ferocity and mad consumptiveness of teenage girls taking ownership of themselves for the first time, she captures the way we are made to cringe over our passions and included Katy as a voice of reason to counter that, and she brushed up against the edge of what this kind of relationship with a band can do for the girls across the world who participate in fan communities. A very enjoyable read.
(4.5 stars, rounding up.) It's still rarer than it should be to read a book that gets fandom culture in the Tumblr age right, but this one does and it really informs the entire book, from the characters down to the story. I haven't been in a boy band fandom, but I've definitely been in fandom and felt like I couldn't explain my "internet friends" or what I was doing online till 2:00 am to my family or "normal" friends. I don't know if you need that background to enjoy this book, but as someone who's been there and is still on Tumblr to this day, it's really nice to see an author get modern fandom.
On to the book - Grace is something of a passive character (and/or in her own head) for a lot of the book, so if that bothers you, this may not be your cup of tea. I really liked how the book explored the end of high school and gradually growing apart from your old friends but still wanting to keep those connections, even though you're not in the same place anymore. Some of the boy-band characters were a little vaguely sketched, but you may get more from them if you're fluent in One Direction (which I'm not, though I could still tell who most of the Fever Dream guys were analogues for). All in all, this is an excellent wish-fulfillment/coming-of-age YA novel and I devoured it in less than a day. After I finished, I flipped through and reread a bit, because yes. This book.
so after MONTHS of waiting for hard copies of this to show up in my local stores, with no luck, i finally remembered google books was a thing--so i caved and bought it today and read it all on my phone in one sitting.
AND NOW I'M DEAD, I'M SCREAMING AND DEAD AND IN HELL AND MY HEART IS TORN INTO A MILLION TINY PIECES AND I DON'T EVEN CARE BECAUSE THIS BOOK WAS SO SAD AND REAL BUT ALSO SO REAL AND GOOD AND I'M NOT EVEN EMBARRASSED THAT I AM GOING TO BE YELLING ABOUT THIS UNTIL THE END OF TIME
LIKE OKAY YOU KNOW IT'S BAD WHEN THE EPIGRAPH ALONE KNOCKS YOU TO THE FLOOR, BECAUSE LOUISE GLÜCK AND ONE DIRECTION??? ON THE SAME PAGE?????? THAT IS MY FUCKING DREAM EPIGRAPH, RIGHT THERE
MORE COHERENT THOUGHTS IN THE MORNING, OR PROBABLY NEVER, BECAUSE WHEN DO I EVER HAVE REALLY COHERENT THOUGHTS ABOUT A THING I LOVE