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Stranger Than Fanfiction

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Cash Carter is the young, world famous lead actor of the hit television Wiz Kids. When four fans jokingly invite him on a cross-country road trip, they are shocked that he actually takes them up on it. Chased by paparazzi and hounded by reporters, this unlikely crew takes off on a journey of a lifetime--but along the way they discover that the star they love has deep secrets he's been keeping. What they come to learn about the life of the mysterious person they thought they knew will teach them about the power of empathy and the unbreakable bond of true friendship.

295 pages, Hardcover

First published March 7, 2017

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About the author

Chris Colfer

50 books9,932 followers
Chris Colfer is an Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actor best-known for his portrayal of Kurt Hummel on the FOX television series "Glee".

He is also a New York Times bestselling author whose books include the first three novels in the "Land of Stories" series ("The Wishing Spell", "The Enchantress Returns" and "A Grimm Warning") as well as "Struck By Lightning: The Carson Philips Journal" which is a novelization based on the script he wrote for the film "Struck By Lighting" (Colfer also co-produced and starred in that movie).

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,161 reviews
Profile Image for Cassandra.
691 reviews86 followers
July 13, 2017
"It's a tough world to find yourself in, but an even tougher one to be yourself in."

I have always loved Chris Colfer’s novels. His sense of humor melds so perfectly into the genre of YA, it’s like he was born to tell stories about teenagers. His books are always humorous, with a side of unbelievable, and a dash of diversity. Just the way I like them. Add on a soul-crushing ending that would make John Green blush, and you’ve got yourself an authentic Chris Colfer novel.

Despite this being my second novel from him, I have an instant buy urge whenever I encounter one of his works. To put it simply, there’s no comparison. You won’t be able to find another author who reads quite like him.

The diversity of this novel was a big win to me. There were characters from an array of backgrounds, situations, and even religions that I wasn’t expecting. It was amazing getting to read a road-trip novel that didn’t star the typical blond, blue-eyed hetero couple from Kansas. Add onto it that this story didn’t bury any of the frightening realities of our society, and even dug up a few that people don’t even want to poke with a lacrosse stick, and this book made mama oh so happy.

Here’s the special part; despite dealing with serious issues, this book read like a rom com. You heard me. A rom com.

I’m not dissing books that manage to stay light and airy while ruffling a few feathers. I’ll always have immense respect for authors who can juggle that. It’s more so that I felt that at times that this novel’s aura of sassy remarks and nerdy references killed the aura of importance that should be surrounding topics like religion, sexuality, gender, socio-economic level, and other topics in that realm.

Will I read his next book? Yep. Will I enjoy it? Probably.

I’m holding out hope that Chris Colfer’s books will improve and his voice in YA becomes as amazing as it has the potential to become.

Pre-release review:

Yes! Another YA novel by Chris Colfer! I am prepared for the sarcasm!
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,710 reviews701 followers
February 17, 2017
I read and loved Struck by Lightning and after reading the synopsis, I was expecting the same sort of witty and sarcastic type of prose. What I found was quite disappointing.

The voices of all of the characters {yes, we do get 5 POVs throughout the story and random thoughts throughout} were very young. I would have never guessed that any of them were on their way to college. There is representation {one character is transgender, one is gay and two are POC}, but it felt more like something thrown together to make it diverse. Fandom and convention goers are portrayed horribly. Not all fans are high pitched screamers and making the statement that a con isn't successful unless there's violence and stampedes just seems irresponsible.

The twist was predictable and the epilogue was decent, but it was definitely a struggle to get there. The excessive use of exclamation points, italics, and shouty caps didn't help.

I did love the idea of the road trip plot and there were some good conversations about acceptance and the like. I kept reading because I was hoping something would turn around for me. Sadly it never happened. I'm sure people will love it, it just wasn't for me.

**Huge thanks to Little Brown for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ .
796 reviews584 followers
November 22, 2018
This book was in the BLK Book Pool

I chose it because I liked the title & cover - & because I haven't read much YA this year. Although I had heard of the TV programme Glee, I've never watched it, so I hadn't heard of Chris Colfer.

I liked the book. It was written in the flat style, so typical of a lot of modern YA writing - but every now & again, Colfer would show some genuine insight & compassion. The book rarely dragged & I missed all the clues leading up to The Big Scene. This was genuinely moving.

Unfortunately I had to knock half a ★off for an ending that was just too trite & ... well, Hollywood for me.

Colfer has promise. I look forward to his future works.
1 review
June 4, 2017
Why I couldn’t finish this book: a fanfiction fan’s perspective

This is a not-quite-review I have struggled to write for weeks now, and in the interest of full disclosure, it’s not a full review because I could only make it to page 30 of the book in question. That said, after many years critiquing fiction and having my own critiqued, I think when someone doesn’t finish something it’s useful to know why.

I didn’t finish Stranger Than Fanfiction because it made me feel terrible, and because by page 30 I had figured out it wasn’t written for people like me in the first place. Fannish people. Or, more specifically, people involved in transformative fanfiction fandoms. In that vein, this review is not written for Chris Colfer, or to hurt him professionally in any way, it’s written to warn other fanfiction fandom people about the type of narrative about us the book features, and to explain to anyone not involved in this type of fandom what’s wrong with the portrayal here, and why it matters.

The Jargon

“Excuse me, but it’s been three days since I posted chapter four of my Wiz Kids fanfiction novel and none of you jerks have commented on it yet,” [Mo] said.
Topher, Joey, and Sam looked into their camera very guiltily.

I bought Stranger Than Fanfiction because of the title, and because it sounded like fanfiction itself: road-trip fanfic is definitely a genre, and so are “one character is a celebrity” AUs, or alternate universes. To read a fanfic-type premise written by someone who had actually seen the Hollywood side of things sounded fantastic. Funnily enough, I have a much higher standard for fanfiction than I do for traditionally published novels in terms of being socially aware—not because this is the rule, just because these are the circles in which I travel. Not being up to these high standards is probably part of why this novel tripped me up, though I don’t think that’s an excuse.

The quote above marks the start of the section that made me stop reading, which is what I’m mainly going to focus on here.

Fanfiction novel. Right away, I was taken out of the story. After fifteen years in fandom, it’s a term I’ve never heard before, and after some extensive googling I could only find one instance of it. Personally, I say “fic,” or sometimes “fanfic,” but this varies by the fan, and by the context. “Fic” I would use more informally, around people in the know, and I might use “fanfic” or “fanfiction” with people who have more peripheral knowledge of the form. But "fanfiction novel" was completely foreign.

An argument can be made that use of the term, which doesn’t appear anywhere (or appears in very few places) in actual fandom, was for the benefit of the many readers who might not know what fanfic is, of course. The “novel” part here is certainly descriptive in regards to the length or story structure. This doesn’t really hold up though because there are some really easy ways of explaining what this is (for people who aren’t in the know) using terms that are in common usage (by people who are in the know).

For example:
“Excuse me, but it’s been three days since I posted chapter four of my Wiz Kids fic and none of you jerks have commented on it yet,” [Mo] said.

Topher, Joey, and Sam looked into their cameras very guiltily. Mo had been writing novel-length fanfiction about the Wiz Kids characters since they all got into the show…

This is just one way of doing it, of course, but “novel-length fanfiction” is just as descriptive as “fanfiction novel” and is actually in very common usage by people involved in fandom.

What using incorrect fanfiction jargon really does in this novel is position readers who are familiar with fanfiction as outsiders. Getting the language right is a key part of representing any group, and it’s one way in which Stranger Than Fanfiction fails at accurately depicting fanfiction fandoms.

Commonly held assumptions

“And I’m not going anywhere near fanfiction,” Joey said unapologetically. “It terrifies me, especially yours. The last story you wrote scarred me for life. I didn’t know there were so many adjectives to describe Tobey Ramous’s pubes.”

This is the most colourful of the excuses the other characters made as to why they weren’t reading Mo’s fic, and it leads into the first assumption Stranger Than Fanfiction makes about fanfiction: it’s all about sex.

On the one hand, it’s really not. For the most part, fanfiction is a really character-driven genre. This is a place where you’ll find a beautifully written, 20,000 word character study of Draco Malfoy set during the events of the seventh Harry Potter, or over 1,600 works tagged “Bucky Barnes needs a hug.”

On the other hand, a lot of fanfiction is about sex. There is a lot of PWP (“porn without plot” or “plot what plot”), and at least one sex scene is really a genre convention in even long, plot-driven works. Often more than one sex scene.

The issue with Stranger Than Fanfiction here is that when the character Joey makes this critique, all Mo does is tell him he doesn’t have to read her story, just comment on it so more people will find it. Then her friends tell her to take a cold shower and that her ship (the two characters she wants to get together) sends subtle degrading messages to women.

Whether Mo’s ship sends degrading messages to women or not, there is nothing subtle about the way Mo’s friends degrade her for writing fanfic in this section. Mo doesn’t tell her friends that fanfiction is about so much more than sex, and she doesn’t defend her fanfiction being all about sex and how that’s important, either. Fanfiction is, statistically, a largely female pursuit, and this is often theorized to be part of the reason there is such a stigma around it. Just look at how people talked about Fifty Shades of Grey (“mommy porn”, etc). There is no defense of female sexuality here, no discussion of how fanfiction communities are derided for things like this. In Stranger Than Fanfiction, a novel about fandom, the reader really is meant to look at fanfiction as being strange.

“I’m not actually writing about Peachfuzzle. I’m just using them to gain an audience,” she said. “As soon as I get a book deal I’ll change the names and locations so I don’t get sued and boom—I’ll have my own franchise! Laugh at me all you want. I’m sure people laughed at E. L. James too, but look where writing fanfiction got her!”

Here we have assumption two about fanfiction: that people are only writing it to publish their own original work with an automatic fanbase. And you know what? This is definitely true for some writers. But for every writer who is writing fanfic expressly for the purpose of building their own fanbase, with this purpose from the very beginning, there are many more writers who are writing it because they love the show or book or movie they’re using as source material—because they love the characters. Because they want better for the characters. Because they want to see what would happen to them in a totally alternate universe. Because they want to explore sexuality, or world-building, or myriad other things in ways the original material never could, or would.

So it’s fine if it makes the most sense for Mo the character that she wants to write fanfic to publish her own original work. But my critique of this is that out of all of the many, many reasons people write fanfic, this story, the story Stranger Than Fanfiction is choosing to tell, is the same story the media always tells. The same story everybody already assumes about people who write fanfiction, if they’ve heard of people writing fanfiction in the first place. Because why on earth would people be doing something if it wasn’t to make money?

Mo isn’t… really a sympathetic character. Even if “wanting to be a published author” is understandable to the audience this is going for, the narration doesn’t really get into Mo’s POV to explain her relationship to fanfiction, other than that her friends don’t understand her work.

“fanfiction is like the fricking Hunger Games—only the cunning survive.”

This is the third assumption about fanfiction, and if you do a bit of googling, definitely seems like the way E. L. James made her millions*. Again, there are definitely people like this out there. But this narrative says nothing about the wonderful community spirit so present in the fandoms I’ve encountered.

Who it’s written for

When someone suggests Mo herself write the comments for her friends to post on her work, and she agrees:

“The other three were curious and fearful about the words Mo would put in their mouths, but they were always happy to support one another—even in the unsettling realm of fanfiction.”

This is it: the point where I stopped reading. The rest of the page talks about how much Wiz Kids, the show, means to the characters as people, which feels very fannish, but it’s really hard to pay attention to that after such a thorough attack, however unintentional it might have been.

Mo’s friends are “happy to support” her in a hobby they think is gross and unsettling. A hobby they basically tell her to her face is gross and unsettling. This is a kind of friendship that makes me deeply uncomfortable.

So in this novel, one character values fanfiction only as a tool to advance her career as an author; the other three think this is really weird, even though they’re involved in fandom as well.

Possibly the most unrealistic part of this for me, the part that was the most painful to read, is illustrated here:

“[Mo] swivelled her head and rolled her eyes so her frustration was evident. It didn’t matter how many times she explained herself, her friends never understood her work.”

There are a lot of technical things wrong with Chris Colfer’s portrayal of fanfiction fandoms in Stranger Than Fanfiction, but why I’m actually writing this review, why I didn’t finish the book, is that I found it painful to read.

It hurt so much to read about a character who wrote fanfiction and kept putting her work out there for her friends to look at and groan at. Not because I identified with Mo, but because it hurt to think of having friends groan at something so important to me. I don’t write much fanfiction, though I have the utmost admiration for people who do it well, but reading it soothes my soul. I've had a lot of internalized guilt and shame about this since I was a teenager. I struggle to talk about it with new people, hesitate over naming the fandoms I’m involved in, am careful about where I have conversations about it. I’ve only recently started coming out to some more close friends about my involvement in fanfiction fandoms, and though I know my experience is not everyone’s, for me it feels just as nerve-wracking as coming out as queer did, maybe more because I live in a liberal place where being queer isn’t a huge deal.

To think about Mo constantly being shut down for her fanfiction, constantly having it treated as if it’s weird by her friends, even with the convenient justification that she’s writing to be a published author eventually—I can only imagine how painful that would feel.

Of course, this is not the story Colfer is telling—none of that is mentioned in the text.

The lack of understanding of Mo’s pursuit to me is the greatest indication that Stranger Than Fanfiction is not written for people involved in fanfiction, but for people who are outside it to look in at us—at a depiction of us that I find hurtful and damaging.

To be clear: I'm not saying fanfiction fandom is some utopia, or even something vaguely resembling a cohesive community. There are many, diverse groups involved, and often big issues, and sometimes terrible internet fights. But I don't think any of that takes away from the fact that good or nuanced representation of this subculture matters.

And having said all of this, I understand why the depiction might be like this. Chris Colfer is an actor—he’s had fanfiction written about his characters, and about him as well. This isn’t to say he doesn’t like fandom** in general—I’ve seen multiple interviews promoting the book saying exactly the opposite—but just that it might be harder to really understand fanfiction fandom in particular from the inside with this background.

Still, I did come away from Stranger Than Fanfiction with a valuable new understanding. Something I read a lot about in critiques of books that feature representation of different subcultures “who is it written for? People inside the community or outside?” This has always seemed like an incredibly important question to me, but I’ve never felt the effects of the difference in intended audience so viscerally as when I read the first part of this book.

Stranger Than Fanfiction is not written for people in fanfiction fandom. As one of those people, I can tell you it makes a big difference. And because this book is a bestseller, lots of people are reading it and learning or relearning these assumptions about us. That makes a real difference to a lot of people. Of course, I'm one of them, but I'm in my mid-twenties. The two or three page section of this book I've been quoting from would have absolutely wrecked me as a teenager.

When I brought Stranger Than Fanfiction back to the local bookstore I bought it from, something I've never done, it was with the intention of just giving it back to them if they wouldn't accept the return, because I didn't want to give it to anyone I knew to read; I didn't want them to think those things about me. The bookstore employee I spoke with let me return it, but did tell me she had really enjoyed the book, and was sorry I hadn't finished it. The ending was apparently really good.

*There is a lot more I could say about this E. L. James comparison, but it really doesn’t fit here. For an interesting take on this from the perspective of the fandom she came from, check out Fic: Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over the World by Anne Jamison.

**I don't know if Chris Colfer has spoken about fanfiction fandom in interviews, just fandom more generally. I have seen positive reviews for the book from other people involved in fandom, but not necessarily fanfiction fandom.

Bonus miscellaneous critiques (including spoilers):

1. Depiction of fandom: Wiz Kids has two male main characters and one main female character, and the main ship is between one of the male characters and the female characters. There is a 90% chance if this were a real show, the main ship would be between the two male characters. There is no mention made of any male/male shipping at the convention where shippers are talked about (also in a sort of… odd way, but I’m not going to get into that). This isn’t a critique about not including diversity, but a critique about realism in depiction of how fandom actually works. Statistically, there will be slash (male/male shipping).

2. A weird sort of not-quite queerbaiting: the main character in Stranger Than Fanfiction, Cash Carter, near the beginning of the novel talks about a secret he has that will get him out of the contract for his show. Because Chris Colfer is openly gay, because Cash Carter has a C.C. name (like Chris Colfer, like another one of Colfer’s characters too, that he actually played in Struck by Lightning), the implication is that this is his sexuality. This is not how people talk about queer characters in this day and age, especially in fandom, which is what the book is about. At the end, it’s revealed that the character’s secret is , but this still left a sour taste in my mouth: the real world context around the book implied queerness and treated it like a dirty little secret. I’m aware that being openly queer in Hollywood still does impact people’s careers, but my critique here is how the book treats the (implied, not actual) queerness in the way it relays it to the reader. If Cash Carter was queer, not wanting to come out would make more sense as a casual thing to mention from his POV even if the Hollywood reality of it wouldn’t be as casual.

3. Dealing with a trans character: at the beginning, one of the four “fans” has a disgust reaction to a photo of an attractive cosplayer he thought was female but turned out to be a drag queen. Presumably this is to illustrate his “journey” as , but there. are. other. ways. of. dealing. with. this.

Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,030 reviews1,045 followers
June 8, 2020
Chris Colfer did it again- surprised me in the most pleasant ways possible with this unexpectedly hilarious but at the same time very touching story about four friends-each battles a social challenge and how their common hero in the person of their favorite actor virtually changed their lives forever when seemingly on a whim, he joins them on their, epic nerdy road trip which of course detoured to several “un-nerdy” adventures.

I think I now have a new favorite author in Mr. Colfer because his writing is consistently funny and thoughtful at the same time up until the Author’s Note actually. His metaphors keep me cracking up and his pop references are super on point. I love how there is complete diversity among the characters and how well-rounded each of them are as the story is told in each of their perspective but using the Third-Person Omniscient. You definitely get to know each of them including their inner thoughts and emotions.

The unraveling of events is surprising. I had my hunches and I had a really strong instinct one of these characters was going to die but I was very wrong about the whys. The conclusion on the one hand is the best, like the last bite of your favorite dessert- kind of familiar but still awesome.

Profile Image for disco.
562 reviews222 followers
February 15, 2018
Remember, for every person that doesn’t accept you, you’ll find a dozen who will. It’s a gay law

Hi everyone! It’s me - your not so friendly, favorite book basher. To get through this I had to grit my teeth and swallow my screams. There are so many things that made me very angry! First of all... say it with me UNBELIEVABLE. There is NO WAY that 97.6% of this book could/would ever happen! Because of this it was extremely difficult for me to pay attention to anything else, since it’s portrayed as a realistic, YA fiction novel.

Cash is an asshole, and there is no excuse for being an asshole. The ending was a pretty lame excuse for closer. There are times I laughed loudly and almost* cried, but overall I rolled my eyes and snorted.

I think that author Chris Colfer is awesome, and he definitely has a good book inside of him somewhere. This just wasn’t it bae.

Profile Image for Thibaut Nicodème.
578 reviews134 followers
May 5, 2017
Full review on my blog, the Snark Theater.

And speaking of my blog…talk about a missed snark opportunity. Goodreads updates just aren't as convenient as a good ol' blog post.

Like…wow. I started off with an early "eh, 2.5 maybe 3 stars" and it all went downhill. Even an hour ago I was considering 2 stars, but…no. I don't feel indulgent towards this book. And I guess that means Chris Colfer hates me because I'm a critic. Well, I don't care.

For context: I've always liked Colfer's writing until now. He makes some amateurish mistakes that should absolutely have been caught by an editor if he wasn't, you know, famous (for instance, his tendency to handle surprise by telling us what's shocking about the scene in italics instead of letting us put two and two together by showing the implications/reactions), but overall, I've liked his books. It helped that they were children's books, and the Struck by Lightning novelization was, as far as I can remember, better than the Land of Story books, in terms of style. Meanwhile, this book is YA, and it still reads like a children's books.

But if that was all, I wouldn't mind the book or give it a one star rating. Oh no. There's more. Specifically, five more thing. You know, one per protagonist.

This book is paint-by-the-numbers with its first four main protagonists' story arc. We meet them, we learn about something bad with their life, and the story proceeds to solve it one way or another. So we have Christopher "Topher" Collins, surprisingly not an author insert as far as I could tell, who has a sick brother (which we can't really do away with) and a crush on one of his friends. Said friend is Sam Gibson, who's a trans boy in the closet. Then we have Joey Davis, who's gay and from a (black, which is important) hyperreligious family. And Mo, whose full name the book doesn't bother using more than twice because Japanese names are icky and complicated and I guess American teens can't be bothered to use Moriko. Mo's issues is that her father wants her to go to Stanford and pursue a "good" career instead of writing, because he wants her to be able to take care of him when he's retired, which I'm pretty sure is two racist tropes wrapped into one character arc. Which brings me back to Joey's family, because it's a little bit suspicious when out of your cast, half of the characters are white and have accepting families, and half of the characters are not white and have bad families (). Coincidence? Maybe, but it shows a thoughtlessness, at least.

Our fifth protagonist is Cash Carter, who is the author's self-insert…to an extent. He's a Manic Pixie Dream…Actor, in that he's basically in the story for two purposes. One: change the protagonists' lives for the better because reasons. Two: share all of the author's bitterness towards fame…I think. I mean, I'm sure Colfer can pull off a "he's just a character, he doesn't represent my world view" card (think the "unreliable protagonist" excuse), but since nothing Cash complains about is ever challenged…yeah, I'm pretty sure these are the author's views.

And…you know what? Fuck that shit. I mean, yes, celebrities are people, paparazzi are bad, you deserve privacy. I agree with that wholeheartedly. But then going on to say that no one should criticize them for, I don't know, being a terrible role model for kids, or saying harmful stuff? Fuck no. Because here's the thing: everyone has critics and is accountable for their actions. And yeah, the more people pay attention to you, the more accountability you get. I mean, there were ways to get around creating some tension there. If Cash was a voice actor, for instance, who gets all of the attention but none of the privilege, maybe there would have been a more interesting discussion there. But Cash Carter is filthy rich from headlining the most successful TV show of this book's universe. So yeah, cry me a river of pearls and then maybe we'll see about feeling bad because you can't be a douchebag without people telling you that you're a douchebag.

It's not like I can ignore that, because every other chapter has Cash go on a rant about it. It's most of the word count in the book, and yet it didn't manage to sway my opinions one bit. It feels more like venting than presenting an actual argument, which…for that, maybe you should open a blog, Mr Colfer. I'm sure you could monetize it anyway, what with the following you have.

But back to the story. The other four characters' arcs, you'll notice, all share the same conflict: good old miscommunication. Or rather, lack of communication. It's like the book is designed for me to hate it, but I digress. So how does Cash's character fit into those? Well, because he gets every character to confide with him, and then betrays that trust by outing their secrets to the others, of course!

Like…the first part makes sense. A stranger waltzes into their lives, and he's kind of their hero, so he gets their trust easily because he's in that Goldilocks area of someone you can talk openly to. I know the feeling; I overshare on my blog for pretty similar reasons (minus the hero part). But he resolution can't be that he makes a decision and the characters react to it because that's not character growth. None of the protagonists choose to be more open; they're forced to be and react to what happens. It's immoral (especially since you'll notice half of those secrets are of the "closeted queer people" variety, and outing queer people is a big no-no), and it's bad character writing. And yeah, Cash has a sentence of guilt, but then it all works out and no one calls him out on his bullshit.

Speaking of "it all works out". Yeah. That resolution was just…painful to read. Just check out my collection of status updates starting at page 260-ish. It just escalates, and gets worse, and worse, and it just does not stop. Sam's character arc in particular feels like a PSA on what being trans is rather than…you know, a trans boy's story. Topher's character starts with "boy with a crush has to accept his crush is actually a boy", gets the expected happy conclusion, but then it phrases it in a way that sort of implies he still sees Sam as a girl instead of, you know, Topher being bi because he's attracted to a boy and has been attracted to girls before. "Can we be gray together" more like fuck you. Mo ends her story with emotional manipulation as I already mentioned, and since that has nothing to do with any of her friends, she spends the entire resolution being self-absorbed, because being self-absorbed is the character trait all women share in this book (yes, really). Joey…also doesn't have much to do with his friends once he's outed as gay, since he's not romantically linked to any of them, so he spends the resolution being bland instead of self-absorbed like Mo. Also, neither Sam nor Joey get to have their coming out shown to us, only told after the fact, because we have time for multiple rants on how much fame sucks but not for this. And then Cash dies so he gets to be forgiven without earning it, and he leaves the kids money to pursue their dreams. Because apparently these four kids were the only fans of his who deserved his support.

Oh, I almost forgot that Joey also got his PSA in the form of "casual sex is bad, mkay?" See, Joey starts out planning to take a detour from the group's road trip to hook up with a guy and lose his virginity, but he gets caught by Cash, who tells him he should wait to fall in love. And…you know what, I am doing exactly that for myself, but also, I can acknowledge that other people make other choices. Joey was pretty determined in his own choice, and he'd done all the research to have safe, pleasurable sex (and I will give credit to the book for referencing "a shirtless youtuber" talking about sex ed which I'm pretty sure is Davey "wickydkewl" Wavey), so really, there's not much of a valid reason why he shouldn't sleep with the guy except…I don't know, Colfer says it's bad for some reason. Sorry, I mean Cash Carter does. Wait, no, it's definitely Colfer, since he has Joey's date leave before Cash enters the scene at all. So…fuck off with your sex negativity. Let the kids make their own choices, as long as they're informed choices. Which it was.

One final thing. For a book that's titled "Stranger than fanfiction" and centers around four fans…it clearly has no idea what fandom or fanfiction is like. Or, rather, it clearly comes from an outsider's perspective. Almost like it was written by a celebrity who has a fandom but has never taken part in fandom himself…but also didn't bother to do research or get in touch with fans (not necessarily his own) to try and portray the characters in a believable fashion.

I feel like I'm missing stuff. Or at least like I'm not doing justice to how terrible everything is in this book and how much I want to break something after finishing it. I'm pretty sure I found my "biggest disappointment" book award for this year already.

tl;dr: Chris Colfer, you have a tendency to write what you know. I get that. So far it's worked out for you. But when "what you know" turns into the bile you have towards your own fans and industry, and you try to inject some half-assed PSAs in order to justify the book's existence…it stops working out for you.

Damn, I actually bought a hardcover copy of this book instead of an ebook. I'm pretty sure that's like 10-15 bucks more expensive. Maybe I should get an actor to walk into my life and change it before dying and leaving me a trust fund, to make up for the extra expense.
Profile Image for Jessica Maggio.
256 reviews
September 24, 2017
Do you know
how nervous
I was
to read
this book?

I love Chris Colfer. Have for literally 8 years. I have watched everything he's acted in, read all his books although I still need to catch up on The Land of Stories and, yes, written fanfiction in which he was involved.

So I really needed to like this book. If not just because I don't want to read a book I don't like, but because it would break my heart, you know? To be disappointed.

Which is, ironically enough, a theme covered in this book. Parasocial relationships - though it's never labelled that - and how damaging they are to both parties.

But anyway.

Good news! I loved the book.

I actually tweeted pretty early on, after Topher says something about having feelings for Sam:

This is looking ominously heterosexual....

— Jess Maggio (@JessJessDaBest) March 2, 2017


That girl the male protag is crushing on? NOT A GIRL! The male protag crushing? TOTALLY COOL WITH THAT AND NOW THEY'RE DATING! Black pastor's son? SMOL LIL GAY BOY! And Mo was never confirmed straight or anything else but I just love her she was the most me which actually may have been the point?


The reveals in the beginning were just... MUAH! Magnifique! Because, unlike another novel that will not be named, the trans/sexuality reveal weren't used as major plot twists. Yes, these things drove the characters, but they didn't drive the plot.
Like, okay, there's a difference between a character stating in their very first pov that they are gay or trans, and then the reader knowing that that's a driving force for that character. There's a difference between that and waiting until halfway through the book to drop the reveal like a bomb that will totally alter the plot. Do you know what I mean?
Even if the other characters didn't know The Secret, the reader did. Therefore the reveal wasn't for "Shock Value". It was just an attribute of the character. Which was beautiful.

And the little nuggets that spilled over from Chris Colfer's own life in the form of Cash... oh man. I winced when Cash talked about fans thinking he and Amy were dating in real life and fighting for that. Because I was there, I saw the CrissColfer drama. It was not cute, not pretty. And very embarrassing, I'll tell you what. I'm with Mo: "That's why they changed the name." No one wants to be associated with that crap. Actors are not their characters. People need to get a fucking grip.

But moving on...

If you'll notice, I didn't give the book the full 5, regardless of how much I loved it.

Here are the reasons:

Not a huge fan of roadtrip novels. I'll keep saying this because it continues to be true. Was this the most appropriate vehicle for this story to be told? Probably. I did enjoy the touristy shit and luckily there wasn't too much bullshit self-discovery along the way, but still.
Luckily, this wasn't too road trippy. There wasn't any terrible exposition about the open road or heartfelt conversation in the front seat with the driver either keeping their eyes on the road to make it easier to share their feelings or making too much eye contact while they should be driving. It helped that there were five people in that station wagon. Road trip stories are really only unbearable when there are only two people present.

Also wasn't too keen on the third person omniscient voice. It's just a little jarring when he/him pronouns are being used for Sam in one paragraph and then she/her are being used half a page later with no warning. Maybe I'm biased, because omniscient to me feels like cheating, but I just needed a little focus. Although with five narrators, I get why he did it. Maybe I'm just making excuses because having third person limited may have made the book longer. And it may be 6am and I stayed up all night reading but I wanted it to be longer.

Lastly - and this would be a bigger complaint if I didn't fucking know Chris Colfer - I'm uncomfy with Billy. Having a brother with cerebral palsy seems kinda prop-like in this kind of narrative. 'Look at this character! He's a good kid because he cares for his brother with cerebral palsy and doesn't resent him at all! Isn't he a good kid?' Like, Billy's not a character, he's just evidence to support Topher's own narrative. I wish he had had a bit more story.
But I know Chris Colfer so I know he didn't throw Billy in there to be a prop or supporting evidence: he gave his character a special-needs sibling because he himself has a special-need sibling (side note: I have no idea if any of this is ableist language? Or if it's comparative at all actually? I'm just doing my best, please correct me if it's needed.) Chris Colfer put a piece of himself in each of these characters. He's gay like Joey, thrifty as fuck like Sam, a writer like Mo, famous and tired like Cash, and a caring and doting brother like Topher, who he also gave his name. I get it. Which is why this is a small complaint. But that's only because I know Chris Colfer. I'm afraid it might be a bigger complaint to those who don't.

I was going to make this a complaint but I'm a sappy fucker so it's not but that cheesy as fuck ending? Are you kidding? That's so corny... so corny... it could just be fanficion...
Profile Image for Grüffeline.
1,076 reviews102 followers
May 25, 2023
"People give you the wrong expectations and then blame you if you can't meet them. It's your fault for not being the person they want you to be. You're the freak. You're the monster. When in reality, you're just trying to be... yourself."

When you reread this book, you have a really different reading experience since you know what's behind all the crazy. Those little things which are already hinting at how this book will end, have a completely different meaning than the first time around. But my initial review's still true:
This book should come with a warning. Something like: Do NOT read in public! Why?
Because it brings a lot of emotions to the surface and lets them run wild. I was grinning at this book like mad when it brought back the feeling of sitting in a convention hall, listening to actors from my favorite tv show. I was crying when Mo's backstory was told and I'm pretty sure I had my fist ready to punch when reading about Joey's father.
But if his father was accurate about all his condemnations, hell sounded like an awfully crowded place.

I laughed hard when Cash was being an idiot again and sucked the others into it with him.
"Don't stay up too much longer," Cash called behind him. "The coyotes come out at midnight!"
"COYOTES?" Mo screamed.
"Good night!"

And I'm not even talking about the end of the book which had me bawling my eyes out and shake with tears.
Chris Colfer tells a beautiful story about friends who think the only thing that's keeping them together, is what brought them together in the first place - their favorite tv show- only to discover that their friendship could survive them finally being themselves.
I love every single one of these roadies and yes: Cash included.
This is an easy five stars rating. If I could, I'd rate it even higher.
45 reviews10 followers
March 2, 2017
The first half of this book is hilarious. I literally burst into laughter at several different points, causing people to look at me funny. Colfer's snark and sarcasm is used to great effect to illustrate the absurdities of Hollywood, celebrity, and interaction with people who recognize you.

The second half turns more serious and becomes very emotional. Cash gives good advice to the kids for the many struggles they're going through in their own lives. The twist at the end, I saw it coming but it was still very effective. The writing, and the excellent characters, and the way I saw myself reflected in the book, made me care. A lot.

Reading this book, you can tell that Colfer really understands his fans and really cares about them. He doesn't lump all fans into the same category. He recognizes many types of fan interest and fan behavior and treats them differently. Most importantly, he understands that fan behavior arises out of love -- for the show, for the character, and for the celebrity himself -- and he honors that love. He points out bad fan behavior here and there, but he recognizes that it's a minority of fans and he doesn't make it the focus of the story.

The bottom line is that I love this book. It's a fairy tale set in the real world, with Cash Carter providing several forms of wish fulfillment about us mortals and our relationship with the celebrities we adore -- getting to meet them, getting to know them, getting to be someone special to the celebrity, getting a solve-my-life-problem-free card. And he manages to make the fairy tale look and feel realistic, with true insights into his life and our lives along the way.
Profile Image for Portia.
150 reviews
March 11, 2017
Boy oh boy did I hate read this whole book. We received a box of galleys and this was sitting in there. And it continued to sit there for a while and I got it in my head that someone on the staff needed to read it. I thought to myself well, his kids books are really popular and I've heard good things so why don't I give this one a try? I made a huge mistake.

This book is the perfect example of why I am hating on YA right now. Reading through, I felt like Colfer thought to himself, "I am a young gay celebrity. I must write a book for teenagers in the LGBTQ+ community. What characters will they relate to? Oh yeah, stereotypes! I know all about those because I was on Glee!" Each time he introduced a character, I felt like he was checking off a stereotypical character from a list he had created. It was infuriating. This book could have been important. It could have helped teens see themselves in characters. Instead, it turned them into flat characters. I found myself yelling, "WHY? STOP! I HATE THIS!" so many times but just couldn't stop reading. Part of the reason was that, each time I was about to quit, Colfer would have a great one-liner. I would think, well, if he can do this, then maybe he can save this book. I was wrong.

The end was supposed to be a huge, shocking twist, but I saw it coming from very early on. I cannot explain how disappointed I was. I guess I am mostly disappointed in myself for expecting something more.
Profile Image for Phils Osophie.
183 reviews699 followers
March 15, 2017
Als einer der größten Glee-Fans überhaupt war dieses Buch an manchen Stellen schon ein Fest. Man merkt die Intention, die Ideen, die präzise Zeichnung der Charaktere... Doch leider geht das alles auf Kosten des Realismus'. Denn 'Stranger Than Fanfiction' krankt vor allem an einer völlig konstruierten Story und unrealistischen Szenarien ohne Ende. Während Chris Colfer also ein guter Geschichtenerzähler ist, ist er kein guter YA-Autor. Denn was bei 'The Land of Stories' gut funktioniert hat, funktioniert hier leider nur ganz ganz begrenzt.
Profile Image for Anastasia シ.
459 reviews113 followers
December 18, 2017
Full Review on my blog!

Stranger Than Fanfiction is a lot of fun, there’s geeking out for the fictional show Wiz Kids, an abundance of lame roadside attractions across the country, and a dozen new life experiences for these small-town teenagers getting ready to enter the next stage of their life. As secrets are divulged and relationships tested, these close friends and almost-has-been celebrity learn the importance of their friendship and the power of fandom.

The writing style of the book felt very movie-like. Each chapter focused on one character’s inner feelings, which gave a unique narration that makes the reader both an observer of the storyline, as well as a participant.

I love Chris’ writing style. His other books are really good too, which is why I wanted to read this one so bad! I really enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it!

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Profile Image for Iris.
550 reviews253 followers
August 25, 2019
Trigger Warnings:

It’s been… I don’t even know, two years? since I read this book, and I never really planned on reviewing it.

But oh my fucking god it pissed me off so bad.

Every time I think of this book, I get so worked up because it was SO. FUCKING. BAD.

So I’m going to review it, and hope that’ll let off some steam so I can finally get it off my mind.

It had a lot of components that make a good book – I don’t remember all too clearly, but it was fun, decently written, good characters, etc.

I loved the premise. And in theory I should have loved the book.

But let me tell you, this book had ISSUES.

I’m going to tag all my spoilers, but honestly? This book was problematic shit and I don’t recommend it at all + this review makes much less sense without the spoilers, so make of that what you will.

Firstly… well… I hate to say this, because we all know this is what the bigots say when they really mean “I’m a dickhead who’s uncomfortable reading about anyone who’s not allocishet, white, male, and able-bodied”, but the fact is the diversity felt forced.
I hesitate to call it tokenism, because that to me implies “Oh look there’s a gay best friend! Diversity!”, and the main cast in this was very diverse.
It’s just that… it really did feel to me like it was being done with the aim of being ‘politically correct’, and not because the author actually cared.

(I could be wrong, the author could have cared very much, but that is how it read to me personally.)

All in all though, I could have accepted that, and still considered it a good book – if not for the ending.

The main conflict centres around one of the characters, Cash,

Obviously, this can be done well – one of my favourite books has a very similar conflict.


It was not handled well. At all.

It almost was. It’s very much portrayed as something completely out of bounds and not at all okay, which is how it should be portrayed.

And then. And then and then and then.

We find out that Cash and was acting out because of that. And all of a sudden all is forgiven and

I'm not saying that in the situation forgiving him was necessarily wrong or unreasonable - I wouldn't have, but if put in that situation it is an understandable response.

However I do think putting these characters in this situation (especially without addressing it with a whole hell of a lot more nuance than it did) is harmful, and I don’t think the story should have been written this way.

Perhaps that isn’t quite how it goes. Perhaps there’s more internal conflict there. But either way, it’s the story of spoiled privileged allocishet white boy who, in a fit of pettiness, hurts the group of marginalized teens who idolized him, and is forgiven when he quite frankly shouldn’t have been, and I’m not here for that.

Whatever the reasoning, whatever shit Cash is dealing with, that was not okay, and the way it was portrayed was harmful.

Fuck this book.
Profile Image for Natasa.
47 reviews28 followers
Shelved as 'maybe'
November 13, 2016
This is like... a headcanon of a fanfic about a celebrity going on a road trip, but from the celebrity's point of view. Sounds like something you'd find on a Tumblr... but then I wouldn't be surprised if Colfer has stumbled across those blogs, hehehe ^^
Profile Image for Lindsay♫SingerOfStories♫.
709 reviews87 followers
May 17, 2018
Stranger Than Fanfiction is a book for which the synopsis really doesn't do the story much justice. True, the book is about teen celebrity and four four graduating high school friends going on a road trip. We find out almost immediately that 3 out of the 4 friends have huge secrets. One is gay and going to an extremely conservative college. One is trans and can't admit it to his family or friends or the guy who she(he) knows has a crush on her(him). And the third wants to attend a different college than her father is making her go to. This is all so that she can pursue what he views as a "good" career when what she really wants to do is become a writer.

I liked the idea of the road trip theme, as well as a celebrity randomly joining a group of friends for the fun. Sounds like a good book, right? Well, turns out the celebrity is an asshole and the friends are all pretty flat characters and nothing exciting happens. EVER. Until the very, very end.

Honestly, the final 40 pages all of a sudden are the only redeemable part of the book. My ears perked up, and I even shed a couple of tears. After considering not finishing the book a couple of times along the way, I finally found a reason to finish the book, however unreasonable the out-of-nowhere ending seemed. I liked the twist and it finally brought the entire book together in a way I thought it needed.

So overall, yes, this book has characters who are LGTBQA+, but does it really discuss these issues in ways that are really important or shed light on the topic in interesting ways? Unfortunately not. I didn't feel that I really connected with the characters at all, and I hated that I never felt that I had any idea what the show that the characters were always talking about being fans of, Whiz Kids, was about. It ended up just being an annoying, constant reference. Sorry Chris Colfer, this book wasn't for me.
Profile Image for John Amory.
Author 19 books45 followers
March 5, 2017
Chris Colfer has a very juvenile writing style. It's not as noticeable or bothersome in his Land of Stories books since they're intended to be read by or to children/pre-teens. But when it comes to Stranger Than Fanfiction, the abundance of exclamation points, unnecessary italics, bad puns, and cringeworthy dialogue overwhelms the reading experience. That last point is especially distracting, particularly as the book moves further along; it's easy to dismiss a few awkward lines, but by the midway point, there was more stilted dialogue ("Wow, none of us had any idea you went through something like that... That must have taken a lot of courage.") than natural. Also, the POV is inconsistent.

It comes down to Colfer being a better storyteller than he is a writer. That's my main problem with the Land of Stories series as well. He has good ideas and can create decent characters, but he gets too caught up in plot and set pieces and forward motion that he never fully develops his characters and their situations because they always need to be moving from one place to the next, one setup to the next, one forced joke to the next. And that last line? Ugh, horrible.
Profile Image for hpboy13.
879 reviews38 followers
March 15, 2017
This book… definitely lives up to the title. It completely stretches the bounds of plausibility to the breaking point. In fact, were this written by anyone else, I would immediately dismiss it as an unrealistic wish-fulfillment story and move on.

But this was written by Chris Colfer, who is on the celebrity side of the fan/celebrity divide. Ergo, the most fascinating thing about this book is the meta aspect of it, where a celebrity is writing about fans hero-worshipping a celebrity. What I wouldn’t give to pick Colfer’s brain about writing this book!

Meta intrigue aside, this book does not really have anything new to say about fans, fandom, or celebrity. It’s a biting portrayal of celebrity, but otherwise it’s a by-the-numbers “fans meet celebrity, fans horrified that celebrity is self-destructing, everyone learns heart-warming lessons” tale. It can be fun to indulge such narrative, but I feel like I don’t get that much out of them after a while.

Colfer does pelt this book with every Issue under the sun, to the point where it gets exhausting. Homosexuality! Transsexuality! Religion! Racism! Disability! Parental expectations! Paparazzi confrontations! There are so many of these Issues thrown into 300 pages, each one feels short-changed in the end.

To give Colfer credit, the characters he has created are well-crafted. They are all distinctive enough to sustain POV chapters, and I grew to care about all of them. The characters are this book’s strength, the plot is its weakness.

Also, I nearly took off another star because almost all the dialogue is in intalics. What the fuck? I get they’re excited, but exclamation points are easier on the eyes.
Profile Image for Anna Oey.
58 reviews32 followers
August 8, 2018
“You need to claim the driver's seat," Cash said. "Never take a backseat in your own life! You gotta take that bitch by the steering wheel with all your might - even if the road is bumpy, even if there's blood under your fingernails, even if you loose passengers along the way. Only you can steer your life in the direction that's best for you.”

This is the first Chris Colfer's book that i've read, and I reallyyyyyyyyy enjoyed it. I really do, and I had a high expectation when I was read this. Also, I really liked the whole road trip idea, his sense of humor is so perfect and really fit into this genre, and I just ugh.. loved it! I can't wait to read another YA novel by Chris Colfer
Profile Image for ريم.
8 reviews6 followers
April 10, 2017
I was very excited for this book, I had read and loved his previous YA novel, Struck By Lightning, so i was very excited to hear that Chris was coming out with another YA novel. And the title further intrigued me, like hello, it had FANFICTION in it! I honestly thought of this book as some kind of gift from heaven! Needles to say, this much excitement could only bring disappointment. I think this will explain so much of my opinion. Simply put; I didn’t like this book! And if I were to analyze why, and I did ‘cause I love Chris Colfer and I just didn’t like the idea of being disappointed by him, I’d say it’s for two reasons: one, Is that i can’t relate to any of the characters in the book, Now there are 5 characters, each with their issues and background, and I’d say the book was more focused on said ‘issues’ and ‘background’ than feelings, further decreasing my relation with the characters since I had nothing to do with any of their issues or backgrounds. Most of the positive reviews focused on how ‘moving’ and ‘touching’ the book is, most probably because they relate to some of the characters in some way. So i guess this must have affected my experience. The other reason is that the book is simply too predictable. Now i’m not one for complicated story lines and confusing plots but I appreciate a little mystery, it was like I had already read the book for god’s sake! In the first 20 pages I was thinking “ there must be more to this”. The more I read the more i thought “ okay this just could be mediocre”. Halfway through it I was already imagining my self burning the book because of how disappointed I felt! Now that may have more to do with my issues than the book, but yeah , not a good one Chris, not a good one. It could have been really good if only he elaborated on some things and less on others, I like the concept but not the focus. On a final note I’d like to point out that I don't appreciate the false information that was written about my country, Hiba was supposedly a Saudi-Arabian girl who was a fellow fan of the show and she was written to “ not get to have youtube” and to only see the episodes through a complex cyber international chain, Russia and China were of course mentioned, typical western writers. But I mean you could have googled it! I’m saudi and we have Netflix for god’s sake! It’s not hard *choi youngjae’s voice*. I have to say though, the book may not be that bad it could just be my high expectations of it that affected my experience. Or it could actually be terrible and I can’t bring myself to admit it because I love Chris. Who knows.
Profile Image for Vicki theglambookworm.
225 reviews44 followers
March 30, 2017
Even though Stranger than Fanfiction felt a tad formulaic at times, I really enjoyed it. This book will speak to anyone who feels that they are a bit different and to anyone who has claimed to be a member of a fandom.

The classic trope of the "pre-college" roadtrip is spiced up when the 4 bestfriend's favorite actor from their favorite tv show joins them. It's every fandom nerds wet dream.

With some interesting twists, and some equally funny and heart felt moments, you can't help but smile and enjoy the journey Colfer's characters go through.
Profile Image for Amber.
992 reviews
May 12, 2020
Topher along with his friends Mo, Sam, and Joey all plan to go on a cross-country road trip to see the sights for the Summer just before they all go their seperate ways and go to college in the Fall. When Topher jokingly invites their favorite actor Cash Carter from the show Wiz Kids to go with them, they get the surprise of their lives when he accepts their offer and goes with them. Will they have the time of their lives or will Cash Carter ruin their trip and their confidence? Read on and find out for yourself.

This was a pretty good read and the second book I have read by author Chris Colfer of Glee and the book Struck by Lightning. I saw the author as the character of Cash Carter as I read this book. If you like stories about what happens when fans meet their heroes and go on a Summer adventure, be sure to check this book out. It is available at your local library and wherever books and ebooks are sold.
Profile Image for Ryley (Ryley Reads).
971 reviews76 followers
February 22, 2017
Thanks so much to Hachette Canada for sending me an ARC of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.

This story sets itself up to be a light-hearted road trip with a group of friends before college - and I guess it is, but there is a much deeper undertone to the book.

The story follows a group of 4 friends who go on a road trip from Illinois to California before parting ways and heading to college. The group originally became friends because of a TV show called Wiz Kids, essentially the teen version of Doctor Who meets sci-fi. Topher is the trip's coordinator and after on the night before the trip, he writes an email to the star of the show Cash Carter. He's been writing him for years since the show started and has never gotten a response. However, after telling Cash about the road trip, Topher gets a response - Cash is tagging along.

The group travels across the country and comes to terms with their inner conflicts. Each character has a secret, and each ends up telling Cash. I won't spoil anything, but I will say there was a great diversity among the group. I really liked reading a book about a diverse group of people, without it being a book about a diverse group of people. You know? Like it was a major part of the book and it was recognized and done well. But the diversity was integrated so well you almost didn't notice it - if that makes any sense.

The writing style of the book felt very movie-like, it was told in third person, but each chapter focused on one character's inner feelings. This gave a unique narration that makes the reader both an observer of the storyline, as well as a participant.

I think it goes without saying that I was ready to love this book for the road trip alone. I don't know what it is about them, but they suck me into even the most boring stories. This one had just the right amount of breakdowns, errors, and issues to create a realistic story without being too perfect. A lot of the places they went to see were kind of let downs. They were old, abandoned and disappointing. There were a few good places - but mostly they weren't anything special. And I think that was okay, because it left a lot of room for the character growth. They discovered a lot about themselves and I think if there was a lot of flashy attractions in the background, it would have overwhelmed the story.

I didn't see the twist at the end coming, maybe it was predictable for some people, but not me. I was heartbroken for Cash, he had no one to share it with, so he ended up going on a road trip with four people who he's never met. I think I was just so sad that he had gotten into a position, either by circumstance or his own volition, and spends those few weeks with a group of strangers instead of anyone who cares about the real him.

This book looks at a lot of issues, and not just the obvious one, like the fact that Cash is a TV star. There were some moments where he told of the more sinister side of fame and fortune, but the book also talks about issues such as sexuality, racism, and even just being the person you want to be, and not the person others (i.e. your parents) want you to be.

The ending of the book makes it easy to feel bad for Cash, but I'm not sure I really liked him throughout the book. I understand he had his reasons, but he didn't have to be a jerk about it. He crashed their road trip and sometimes made it seem like they were inconveniencing him.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and look forward to more from this author.

Profile Image for Ariel.
223 reviews17 followers
June 17, 2017
This was a quick read and a fast paced story about four super fans and best friends taking a road trip and being joined by their absolute favorite actor, Cash Carter. Cash is the type of character that surprises you. Actually, this whole damn book surprised me. We know from the opening chapters that Cash is not happy with his acting career and he's also planning on not returning for season ten of Wiz Kids because of some dark secret... that we don't find out till the end.
All four of these friends are hiding something from each other and themselves. It actually reminded me of Pretty Little Liars a bit, but without some crazy stalker trying to blackmail them.
Profile Image for Sylexlibris.
474 reviews89 followers
December 23, 2017
4.5 🌟
Non credevo che mi sarei messa a piangere così tanto alla fine,eppure...Bellissimo libro veramente,mi aspettavo tutt'altra cosa e ne sono uscita un po più arricchita ♡
Profile Image for Mehsi.
11.9k reviews360 followers
March 17, 2017
This was a magical, sweet, wonderful book.

I am still having a headache, plus I am still lost for words on this book, but I want to try to at least voice my feelings on this book! So bear with me!

This book was even better than I had hoped, it exceeded all my expectations. I had expected what the blurb stated, but it was much more than that. It is about finding a place you belong, about friendship, about being gay, about religion, about transgender, about so much more. The book may sound all sweet, all easy breezy, and yes it had quite a few parts that were just that, easy, fun, breezy, but the underlying message is a bit more heavier than that. And I loved how it combined these two and made it a very engaging read.

We have 5 POVs, and generally with so many POVs they blur for me, especially if they have the same voice/similar characteristics. However, with this one... each and every person was unique to me. I could easily distinguish between them all, and was looking forward to each POV. Unlike many books with a lot of POV I would have one or two characters I didn't like, but in this one? I loved them all. They were all so intriguing, and I want to know more and more about them. About their lives, what makes them tick, what their hopes and dreams are.

First up we have Cash, he is the oldest in the book, 22 years old. He is the actor, sick of everything, and boy, I could understand it so much. I was a bit pissed off that at times the characters couldn't get that fame is nice, but it can get too much. This guy has been acting in that favourite series of them for 9 years. He is never really safe, because of all the screaming fangirls finding him no matter where he goes.
Plus he has a secret, a big secret. Something that is mentioned at the first chapter (his POV), but isn't revealed until much later. Until then, there are hints, parts of veil being lifted, but I really had no clue what was going on until the end.

He was a bit mean, rude, and brutish at times, but I mostly loved him. He was eccentric, fun, wild, and also did show the kids that there is a life beyond all the standard things. Now, I am not saying that it was OK to give them drugs, but then again, these are adults (at least from what I could gather).

Since there are more characters, I will move onto the next ones. :)

First up Joey. He is not only gay, but also black, and if that wasn't everything, his parents are super religious. He wants to come out of the closet, he wants to meet with guys, be free with his romance/love, but he doesn't dare to in fear of his parents, the people of his church. I just wanted to hug him. As the story continues we see him get more accepting, and see him get more brave, and gain more courage.
I was a bit surprised that his friends didn't know he was gay (at least given the reaction when it did come out), but Cash immediately saw it. Immediately knew it.
He was a very sweet guy, and he definitely deserves happiness.

Mo is up next, and she is the fanfiction writer of the group. She is also with the least big of a secret along with Topher. Her father wants her to go to Stanford, and she wants something totally different. Her mom died, and so she doesn't have anyone else but her dad to talk to about it, and her dad is difficult. As the book continues we see her gain courage, search for the right way to tell her dad about her dreams and hopes. I have to say that at times I wanted to smack her, for how she acted around Cash. What she did and said. That is just not what you do. Here is a guy explaining to you about his life, and you act like that? No. Just no.

Topher, the one who sent the letter to Cash. Unlike his friends he decided to stay close to home and go to a college nearby. Not only to save up money, but also because of his brother who needs constant help. I really loved how responsible he was, and how caring he was. A lot of people might just have gone to college far away, but he stays home. So sweet!
His crush on Sam was cute, and I was definitely cheering for those two to get together.

Sam. I am going to put this all in spoiler tags as I don't want to spoil the surprise to anyone.

I will also put this part under spoiler tags.

Of course there is the whole Wiz Kids stuff that is all over the story, and I definitely am kind of curious about the show. Too bad it is fictional, otherwise I would have so watched the show.

There was 1 thing I found weird, but I really don't want to add more spoiler tags to my review, so I will just mention the keywords Friendship + Wiz Kids.

The road trip was a delight to read about, to see what places they visited, what roads they travelled, what they saw, and what happened along the road. I wish I could have travelled with them, they are such a fun cast of characters.

The ending was beautiful, lovely, funny, and perfect!

Phew, I think I have everything. I laughed (that rubberball incident for instance), I cried (so many times), I shook my head (at Cash, but at other things too), and felt so many other emotions. It was a roller coaster ride, and I will be sure to get aboard the roller coaster someday again! Highly, very highly recommended!

Review first posted at https://twirlingbookprincess.com
Profile Image for Erica Henry.
79 reviews64 followers
December 7, 2020
5 🌟
"It's a tough world to find yourself in, but an even tougher one to be yourself in."

This was such a great coming-of-age story. I laughed. I cried. I finished it in one sitting. I just could not put it down.
#strangerthanfanfiction #chriscolfer #bookreview #lgbtq🌈
Profile Image for Leah (Jane Speare).
1,380 reviews421 followers
February 6, 2017
Four friends embark on a cross-country road trip in their summer before college. When television star Cash Carter unexpectedly joins them, this trip changes all five of their lives in ways they never anticipated. Stranger Than Fanfiction is a whole lot of fun, there’s geeking out for the fictional show Wiz Kids (think: Doctor Who), an abundance of lame roadside attractions across the country, and a dozen new life experiences for these small-town teenagers getting ready to enter the next stage of their life. As secrets are divulged and relationships tested, these close friends and almost-has-been celebrity learn the importance of their friendship and the power of fandom.

Five stars for such a natural diverse cast of characters.

(recommended for older teens: constant mention of drug and alcohol abuse, tons of swearing)
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