Kole Miller does one thing really well: write fanfiction for the show The Space Game. Everything else is a struggle: like managing her anxiety, frequent crushes, and plans after high school. But when her blog, Spacer, wins a major fanfiction contest, her traffic soars.
With massive readership comes criticism Kole isn’t prepared for, including getting stuck in the heated ship wars surrounding the show. And then an invitation to speak at The Space Game’s official convention arrives in her inbox.
When the most competitive kids in her Creative Writing class discover Kole’s writing Spacer, her blog is taken hostage and she risks them hitting ctrl+A+del on Spacer. To win it back, Kole must face both her inner demons and the ones at Crystal Lake High before they make the drama not just about The Space Game, but about Kole herself.
Including snippets from Kole’s fanfic, emails, and text messages, Down With This Ship is sure to bring out the inner fangirl in anyone.
Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of Down With This Ship.
This book tries so hard to be relatable that it sucks out any semblance of realism. Our protagonist, Kole, goes to a school full of super villains. Note that I don't call them mean kids or bullies because that's not what they are. They're comic book arcetypes stuffed into the high school setting. Since she's quirky and passionate about fanfiction and writing, this means she only has one friend (my personal theory has a lot more to do with her self centered personality but that could have just been me) but obviously also has multiple guys falling all over me.
I don't like how fast we as a culture are to call things targeted at teens cringy, but that's what this was. Not because it's pandering to teens or girls or anything, but because it goes so hard on all of its archetypes that you're left cringing at every other thing the protagonist does or says. Kingman isn't a bad writer. She has the YA contemporary romcom style down to a tea but this book just didn't work.
This last bit is a spoiler.
So from the get go it's very clear who Kole is going to end up with which is fine, but I really don't like how everyone else was swiftly vilified or made to look bad so we didn't have to pity them when Kole doesn't end up with them. For a book about ship wars, this was really bad at making realistic ships. Kole even has a few weird double standards that she uses as an excuse to not be with her first love interest but sees as romantic when Colin does it? (i.e. she calls out Nate for asking her out publicly and putting her on the spot but when Colin does the same thing with a much bigger audience it's her happily every after?)
The following book contains light bullying, explicit language, pop culture references, product placement, side LGBT characters.
I'm jumping overboard because there’s no way I’m going down with this ship. I wanna give Kingman the benefit of the doubt and say she had good intentions, but this is a hot mess of a book. When I wrote my blog tour post, I had a hard time coming up with some kind of positive feedback about the book, but now I'll share the rest of my thoughts.
Fan fiction gets an unnecessarily bad rap. Down with This Ship is Katie Kingman’s attempt to celebrate it as an art form, but instead of an ode to fandoms everywhere, we get a book that basically reads like bad fanfiction. The characters are undeveloped, the story is ridiculous, and the writing is just so cringe.
Kole is worst kind of protagonist. Her most defining characteristic is the fact the she's a fanfic writer, which isn't really a character trait, but Kingsman spends so much time harping on the fact that Kole is a hardcore fangirl--to the point that she's lost childhood friends over fandom-related disagreements--that she's never given any time to develop much of a personality. (Honestly, the whole book basically feels like Kingsman’s application to get her geek card approved because she sure spends a lot of time trying to prove how in tune she is with fandom culture.)
I'm not a fan of Kole. She's "not like other girls," but all the boys fall for her. She's also sooo amazing at writing fanfiction . Unfortunately, she comes across as pretty self-absorbed and doesn't really undergo any kind of character growth. She spends a lot of time playing the victim and doesn't own up to her mistakes. Instead of accepting the consequences for her actions she's Not sure what kind of life lesson that's supposed to be. If anything, the moral of the story seems to be Everyone Should Listen to Kole .
Kole supposedly has anxiety, but that just seems like an (unsuccessful) ploy to add more depth to a character and story that have none. Mental health issues are a real thing, but the way it was addressed here was almost flippant. It doesn't seem like Kingman really wanted to take the time to actually consider how anxiety would affect Kole's life and just used it as a kind of cheat code to gain woke points and give her protagonist some dimension. (If she was trying to make some kind of point about mental health issues, she really missed the mark on that one.)
The other characters aren't much better. Her best friend is basically nonexistent. Other than being told she’s a “black, bi goddess” and ships Kol-Col, we don’t really learn much else about her. The mean kids are mean to the extreme--it'd be comical if it weren't so bad--it's like the entire cast is made up of half-painted cardboard cutouts. The guys are probably the most well-developed characters, but that's not saying much.
The actual story is just bad and reads like fangirl wish-fulfillment. There's also a lack of consistency throughout the book. At the beginning of the book, The Space Game is actually acknowledged to be "a crappy show," albeit one Kole enjoys, but it's made out to be a kind of well-known show with a fringe following, but as soon as Kole's Stumblr--that's not a typo--gains internet fame, the entire school is up in arms over shipping wars. She bribes the journalism teacher with M&M and suddenly basketball tryouts are over?? The amount of suspended disbelief needed to get through this book is herculean, and don't get me started on the IRL shipping wars or the bullies trying to blackmail her into making their ship endgame in her fic...
Speaking of ships,
I could also do without the excerpts from Kole’s fanfics. They don't add anything to the story, aren't particularly interesting and are just poorly written, like Bad Fanfic Writing 101 bad. I initially thought it was intentional, but after reading the rest of the book, I don’t think it was 😬
Kingman's writing is simplistic and straight-up weird at times. The number of times Kole brings up things that will leave a bruise makes me wonder if we should be concerned about hemophilia... As for the use of similes in the book, I thought I'd just give you a sampling and let you come to your own conclusions about the writing. (I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.):
• "He sticks his butt back, and I swear I'm looking at a bottle of ranch with those pretty pictures on the label--two hills, in bright green shorts, perfect formation. Just the right about of curve." Mm, gotta love those hilly butts • "He studies the hoop like a donut." What does that even mean?? • "He raises his chocolate-chip eyes form the phone and blinks a few more times...Dang his eyes aren't semi-sweet; they're cavity-inducing." 🤢 • "He smiles, like one of those uber-bright supernovas on the show." • "He was touching my face, sending rocket ships to the moon with his fingertips." Houston, we have a problem.
In many ways, this book feels like a childish attempt to right some kind of past wrong. Kingsman gets up on her soapbox toward the end of the book and makes a grand speech about how we should all get along no matter what we ship, but then she goes and ends her acknowledgments with, "also, to the faceless trolls on Twitter that dragged me and my ship. My OTP may not be canon, but inspired me to write this book. Thanks." Maybe it's just me, but it comes across a little petty and spiteful.
I wanted to get onboard with this, but it just really didn't work for me 😕
I received an early digital copy from Flux and TBR and Beyond Tours in exchange for an honest review.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>
First, the characters were just 👌 And the relationships between the characters AHH I loved to read and "see" how the relationship with her mother developed!! Her friendship with her BFF is actual goals!! Okay, that teacher though, please transfer to my school and teach me!! And the romance! AH adorable, nice enemies to lovers and allllllllll. The sort of taunting thing they have going on is very entertaining. Reminds me of like Tweet Cute or something :)
Second, the writing. I actually really really enjoyed the writing style of this book :)
I also really really enjoyed the plot. It was mediocrely fast-paced. Like wasn't the MOST fast-paced book but it wasn't s l o w. It was a very good pace, actually.
I honestly don't know what else to write about this book. It was very cutesy and nice and fluffy to read. SOmething to brighten my day haha.
I loved this so much and highly recommend it to fans of Eliza and Her Monsters, Fangirl, The Extraordinaries :)
Down With This Ship is one of those books that had the potential to be perfect for me, yet I fear I set my expectations a little to high. While there were some interesting moments that kept me turning the pages, I spent most of the book feeling like I had read the story before.
For me, there’s a bit of irony in the fact that this book was predictable and felt like it was something I’ve already read. You see, there is a point in this book where the character talks about tropes and cliches, explaining the differences between them. Despite this, the book felt more like a cliché than a trope. That is not to say it was a bad book, simply that there was nothing that made this one shine in the way I had hoped. It made for enjoyable quick reading, but it did not wow me.
All in all, an okay read. I had hoped for more, yet it worked for easy reading.
3/5✨: I'll be honest, I'm no quite sure how I feel about this book. I was invested in the story, where we follow Kole on her journey into proving that she is more than just a fanfic writer all the while taking drastic measures to make sure no one knows.She even finds herself in the mist of her own love triangle and ship wars, which she previously thought only happened in fiction. Like I said, I was invested in the story but I can't tell if it was because I liked it enough to care or if my curiosity on how the story ends beat out the cringe favor of the content.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think this story was bad. I had fun reading it and I got so deep that I finished it all in one setting. I also have a soft spot for stories about writers. But it was made for a specific audience in mind. One I was apart of for a while too. But tastes grow and I don't think I found myself relating to the story or characters but that doesn't mean others won't. I just think if you're not the exact target of this book, then you might not enjoy or appreciate the fun moments of this book.
On a personal note, while I thought the story was well written and I was interested in the events taking place, there were two factors that didn't vibe well with me and took this piece from a four to a three. Those two things are the actual fanfiction pieces and our main characters. Firstly, I wasn't mad about the fiction in the work, as it was nice to get an insight onto the topic the writer is working on if they spend most of the book writing. But after the first reads of the fanfiction, it became really clear that the blog updates had nothing to do with the story and I struggled to care about what was going on in a world I knew nothing about. After a while, the posts happened so often that I kind of glossed over a few. Second, I found Kole a might too unlikable in the beginning, as she came off a little pretentious and like her word is gospel. I found myself liking the two love interests more than her and I wanted better for them. I also didn't like the one eighty they did with the personality of one boy, just so it would make sense why she chose the other. It was a little outrageous.
---My ARC copy of the book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.----
Thank you to Netgalley and Flux Books for the arc of this book. All opinions are my own!
Holy wow! This book was so freaking cute! I can't get over it. This book is the book I wish I had as a teen who was obsessively in the Twilight and Buffy fandom. The validation this makes me feel as someone who has written fan fiction and read fan fiction.. I can't get over it. This made my heart flutter, made my heart hurt and made my heart burst with pride.
Kole and Collin are literally the two most adorable beings on this planet. I love how instead of feeling ashamed or embarrassed by their nerdiness or geekiness, they embrace it. They live and breath it. It's such a breath of fresh air to see people who love being smart or love "geeky" things genuinely enjoying them with no remorse. Kole as a main character is such a lovely person. Her ability to take embarrassment, rejection, and pain in stride in high school is admirable. She really grows and finds herself throughout the book and it's a great journey. Collin is one of my favorite love interests I've read recently. He's patient, kind, and intelligent and unapologetic for it. His ability to write the way he does and to show his true self, especially to Kole warmed my heart.
The voice used in this book helps it flow, be relatable and gives you the feelings the main characters are feeling as you read. I think the plot was well done and fleshed out. The pacing was great and realistic in the context and setting of high school and I thought the character development and arcs were incredible well done. this novel is so well put together and I absolutely adored it.
If you've ever been in a fandom, love enemies/rivals to lovers, been the "smart kid" or love YA contemporary, this is absolutely for you! This is one you won't want to miss!
Official Blurb: Snarky, funny, and off-the-charts with personality, Katie Kingman’s main character, Kole, and her world of uber fandom will burrow into your heart as it did mine, making you vow to go Down With This Ship until the very last page!
Unofficially: This book was such a fun escape, and it's perfect for anyone who's ever found themselves a little obsessed with a show and its characters. I know I had quite a few of those when I was in middle school and high school (and yes, even a few now as an adult), so I happily fell into this story. Kingman writes romantic tension and sibling dynamics so well, and I found myself laughing a number of times, both at some of the interactions between Kole and her brother, and at Kole's snarky commentary. In a way, Kole is larger than life, just as her anxiety sometimes makes her feel like it's easier to fade into the background, which could make her a slightly polarizing character for some readers. BUT being a mass of contradictions is a huge part of what being a teenager is about. Whether you relate to Kole or not, she will not be ignored! And I, for one, can't wait to see what Katie Kingman writes next!!
Can I take a moment and say that FANFICTION becoming accepted enough to the point that there are novels about people writing fanfics is both 1) TERRIFIC and 2) MIND-BLOWING!
I love, love, love Kole's growth throughout this book. Seriously. Learning to embrace an unconventional passion/hobby takes strength and as someone who hid just how nerdy I was, and would NEVER have admitted that I read or wrote fanfics, I adored this book.
And her friends, family, and love interest supporting her in her endeavors? Ugh. So many feels. They're terrific!
Kole definitely makes some bad decisions and hides some things that she shouldn't have...don't you just love when you wanna reach into the book and shake the characters and say "TELL THEM THE IMPORTANT THING!!!" and fix all of the problems?
Very enjoyable, I would definitely recommend this!
Y’all this book is every fangirls dream! If you grew up blogging your obsessions on tumblr, you must go pick up a copy of this book!
This follows a very anxious fangirl named Kole who has created a huge following on social media with her fanfic portrayal of her favorite ship. The only thing is, up until this point, no one really knows who’s behind the famous blog. This book is all about what happens when someone threatens to leak your identity and the lengths you’ll go to protect yourself and others.
Firstly, I loved the fangirl aspect of this book. If you don’t know, I was so into Tumblr (this book has Stumblr) way back in the early 2010s! I was into Doctor Who and Harry Potter and all the bookish fandoms you can think of which is really my way of saying that I was one of those CRAZY Divergent/Hunger Games people. I totally understand Kole and her obsessions with her favorite show, The Space Games. I also love how this author portrayed ship wars because those can be intense, I’m speaking from experience.
Secondly, I also loved all the side characters within this world. They all had their purposes and their own individual personalities. I would absolutely love to see a spin-off novel about Michaela, who is Bisexual I believe. Please correct me if I’m wrong! She was just a wonderful little cinnamon roll and I want to learn more about her. Also, Colin who is one of our love interests. He’s the best, he’s such a doll, I love him with my whole being. He’s nerdy and funny and I just want to protect him forever!
On to the thing I didn’t love because I think it’s important to be honest with y’all. I didn’t love the drama. It felt a little childish for 16/17 year old’s to be taking part in. It was still fun to read and I think it would work for it’s intended audience but for me, a 22 year old woman, it was a little too unbelievable at times.
Other than that, I thought this was a solid read. I loved kind of revisiting my teenage self and remembering fandom moments I would rather not haha. This was a super cute and fast read and I highly recommend you read it. It deals with anxiety and bullying and parental acceptance and I think all those things are really important so go check this out.
My inner fangirl really enjoyed Down with This Ship. I mean I loved looking up fanfiction for some of my favorite shows a few years ago (before I got really back into reading again). It's fun reading what other people think up for the characters you've come to love. And sometimes take twists you would've liked more than what actually happen.
Kole is one of these characters that took her favorite TV show into her own hands and created the ships she wanted to see. Her blog has become incredibly popular and it brings in the bad with the good. No one knows at first that she's behind this popular blog/story. When Kole wins an important competition her story becomes even more popular.
Her story Spacer becoming so popular doesn't work out well for Kole when fellow students in her creative writing class figure out that she writes the story. They use it against her and make her do things for them she doesn't want to do. This situation was hard to read and there is not other word to use for them except bullies. It was heartbreaking reading about how much anxiety Kole felt about her identity being revealed. Her relationship with her mother doesn't make this any easier, but I will say I loved how this ended up playing out. The growth of how they interact was a really good thing.
It was interesting to see Kole battle with not wanting to give up her identity, but also being very proud of her story. I loved how she became more and more confident and decided it was her story and she was going to tell it as she saw fit. I think that's so important, because when it comes to fandoms we all have our own ideas on how things should play out. All are valid.
I loved the little pieces of the fanfiction weaved into this story and even though it's not something real it was interesting to read. Kole's best friend is also really awesome and made me laugh. Down with This Ship deals with some more serious issues, but is also lighthearted and fun. The last thing I want to mention is the romance. I do like how it ended, but the drama throughout the book wasn't something I really enjoyed. The whole live triangle and dating that came out of the blackmail just didn't work for me.
All in all, Down with This Ship was a fast and fun read. Some things didn't work for me, but other things did. The end of the story did leave a smile on my face and I hope this author gives us more books that involve fanfiction and fandoms.
This book spoke to my inner fangirl so badly. I loved it. And did I ship? Oh yeah, you bet I did. I can understand that people don`t want others to know they write that fanfiction. It is their secret, just theirs. Nikole “Kole” Miller was very funny, smart, sassy, interesting even though she had struggles with her mentalh health, i`m glad she owned her fanfic and punched Damien. I mean that was so satisfying, I wanted him to walk on coal, legos or caramel popcorn (i`ve heard that is even worse than legos). Ugh. That guy. He made me so mad! I wanted to kick him where the sun dosen`t shine again and again!! Hailey was a weasel, supporting Damien ugh. Noah he was sort of cute, and interesting but seriously? I didn`t think he was that kind of guy to use his lines again, like really? Colin is so adorable, geeky, nerdy wierdo – but so cute!! I can almost not stand it. Well…okay… I can stand it. How Will was a supportive, yet the annoying brother, her mother came to wanting to understand her world; That she actually has been supportive but now was even more there a 100% - I mean going to the con with her, just aww. I know I am just babbling on about nonsense, but Kol-Col is so adorable, I ship it so hard!
Down With This Ship combined elements of all my favorite tropes — enemies to lovers, fan culture, and unapologetic geekiness! It was a light, fun read that I enjoyed on a long flight.
The characters themselves were a little underdeveloped; it felt like Kole’s defining characteristic was fangirl. And while, lol #mood, it got a bit repetitive to read. The high school antagonists were unrealistic in how far they’d go and the response of the school (if I did half of the stuff the kids got away with, I would’ve been suspended or expelled quicker than you can say “but I-“).
However, all this being said, it was a sweet book to read and find out what happens. I love, love, love the addition of fanfic excerpts and how much fan culture is woven into the book. Reading it felt like a love letter to the geek community!
I totally went into this book with zero knowledge of what it would be about but I definitely enjoy it. The story line is witty and relatable and there are so many references to shows and movies it's awesome.
I really loved the awkwardness of Kole and how she navigates her school and family because it's so relatable. The love Triangle was predictable but there were plenty of twists and turns that made it fun.
Kole Miller is the author of a super popular fanfic about The Space Game, a TV show set in, you guessed it, space. When she wins a fanfic writing contest, the hits on her popular fanfic, Space, skyrocket. Suddenly, everyone at school is talking about her fanfic and she’s getting millions of hits, instead of the thousands she’s used to. A classmate, Damien, learns that Kole is the author of Spacer and threatens to tell everyone at school unless Kole goes to the dance with him and writes his favorite ship into the fic. Kole goes along with it, wrestling with whether or not its worth it and if she should reveal herself to be the author. Not only is her blog in jeopardy, but her personal life is going up in flames, too. Multiple crushes, kisses, and intrigue abound.
I tried to like this book. Really I did. I’ve been reading fanfic since I was twelve. That’s almost two decades, for me. I’ve been on tumblr for over a decade. I know fandom. I know big fandoms and small fandoms and discourse and shipping and toxic behavior in the fandom. And this book just feels like the perfect example of a toxic fandom to me. Too much heavy shipping, not only of fictional characters, but also of real life people (real within the realms of the fictional universe of the novel, at least). There isn’t a mention of this shipping being toxic and divisive until way later in the book, Kole fiercely defending her chosen ship until the end, to the exclusion of another popular ship, without acknowledging that both ships can be valid. And there was no mention of alternative ships, other than these two main extremely hetero ones: Pippa and Byron, and Pippa and Cedric. No Cedric and Byron, or any other side ships.
I found Kole to be annoying in the extreme; she is self centered and focuses only on herself, fandom, and her fic. She has a single friend and her brother, who she’s somewhat close with. And the other characters were just boring and practically nonexistent, overdramatic archetypes with similar modes of speaking. You could put a phrase from any one of them in front of me and I wouldn’t be able to tell you who said it. None of the characters beyond Kole were nearly well developed enough. Everyone seems so desperately immature. I would’ve thought they were at most middle schoolers with the way they spoke. For one thing, they sometimes use swear words in full and sometimes just say ‘eff’ instead of the full word. And there seemed to be no reason why. Either go full on swearing or no swearing at all. Don’t dance around it.
The romance was completely unbelievable, too, especially with Colin. I was absolutely convinced that Colin was messing with Kole the whole time, him being friends with Damien and all. I thought he was trying to get closer to her so he could get information on Spacer and I still didn’t believe in their romance by the end. The switch about from pure enemies to somewhat friends was just way too quick. Then there’s Noah, Kole’s other romantic option. He’s new to town and is Kole’s brother’s new friend, so they have some interactions. They talk a little, maybe twice, before they’re kissing and he’s asking her to the school dance. There’s just no chemistry between them, between any of the characters. And the other relationships! Kole and her mother; Kole and Michaela, her supposed best friend we know next to nothing about. Kole and the mysterious relationships with her ex friends, who had a falling out over The Space Game years ago and still hold a grudge...I could go on and on about the lack of chemistry between any of them.
Aside from the lack of diversity in the dialogue, I found the rest of the writing to be much too descriptive in all the wrong ways. What Kole was eating, when it didn’t relate to anything else that was happening, what she was doing, too many references to the fact that her laptop was old. It had me thinking that there would be a big plot point about the laptop getting broken and Kole having to buy a new one somehow. And for a character who has anxiety, there was a lot of ‘we’ll talk later’ to pass the time. Like, meet me at this location tomorrow afternoon just to jump the timeline ahead a couple days. Then there were the various references to other authors the characters aspired to be. Stephanie Meyer, Suzanne Collins, other ‘greats’. But none of these authors are amazing in anything other than the young adult fiction universe. They are very popular, high grossing authors but they aren’t great. I don’t think true writers would aspire to be them. Maybe a couple, because young adult fiction is a great genre, but not everyone. It just really juvenilized the whole novel for me, which is strange because the main character is around seventeen, a junior in high school.
The plot itself was difficult to believe for me. A fanfic this popular and Kole doesn’t plot or pre-plan or schedule any of her posts? She doesn’t keep detailed outlines about where she might like the story to lead? I know many authors just fly by the seat of their pants in terms of writing but I’d’ve figured that with her anxiety, Kole would want to have some plans. She didn’t even mention a posting schedule and her updates seemed to be a couple hundred words at most, not the thousand or more. Does she post every day? And why doesn’t she respond to comments or otherwise interact with fans? I would have liked to see a little backbone in this somewhat anonymous forum: for Kole to beat back at her more toxic commenters. Or to take their comments to heart and try to improve her writing. She saw every negative comment, even constructive ones, as attacks, when some of them could have been seen as encouragement to do better. Do more research, put a little more effort into the characterization, maybe expand upon this trope a little more. Plus, to have an entire school of nearly a thousand people become so interested in a fanfic and basically having ship wars in the cafeteria would be entirely impossible, even with fandom and internet culture today. And how does a fic get millions of hits anyway, on what seems to be a tumblr like platform? Even in the height of fandom on tumblr, fics didn’t get that many hits, not overnight.
There was also an attempt to be body positive, though that fell flat for me. Kole mentions that she has a tiny roll of fat. So she’s not super skinny, but she just has a tiny roll of fat. That’s it, just a tiny one. It brings up the fact that she’s not skinny but also minimizes how fat she is? It just felt like a poor attempt and I was actually a little offended at this. Her size is mentioned a couple more times, mostly in reference to her love of french fries to exclusion of all else at lunch.
I just couldn’t like this book. I hoped to like it because it sounded like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and I enjoyed that book immensely. But the characters and poor description of fandom nixed my enjoyment early on. The odd relationships, the lack of a satisfying romance, the writing overall. None of it was enjoyable for me, unfortunately. I kept reading in hopes it would hit its stride and, in the end, to count the book as finished.
I was super excited to start this book. A book about fangirls? Sign me up! However... I do not have much good to say about this book so I'll start with the thing that I did like. I appreciated how the author emphasized how we are all human despite our differences. It was so refreshing to see this theme in a young adult book. Now on to what I did not like... ~First off, I think that Kole needs to mature a bit before she gets in a relationship. She constantly came off as immature throughout the whole novel. ~Secondly, Damian's motivation seemed a bit flimsy...like, a lot flimsy. I know there are crazy people out there but I did not buy into the situation with him. ~Honestly, a lot of the characters came off as rich and spoiled kids. ~I am not going to even elaborate on my thoughts on love quadrilaterals other than NO! ~One thought that struck me was, "Why is every Christian a villain?" ~I hope this gets edited, but the SAT scoring discussed was inaccurate. I have taken the SAT and PSAT a combined total of five times within the past two years. I can assure you that scores are given in multiples of ten. One of the characters got a 1519. I am not quite sure how that is possible. ~These last two things are more of a personal preference for me but I found it unnecessary for characters to introduce themselves with pronouns. ~And last, at the risk of sounding like a kindergartener, Kole kissing a guy in front of hundreds at a fancy event is just a nope.
Rating: 1/5 Language: some Romance: kissing Spiritual: the 'bad guys' are Christian Violence: n/a
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts are my own and a positive review was not required.
I really enjoyed this YA contemporary fanfic filled story with a bit of romance. Kole was such a relatable fanfic lover and writer. I definitely identified with her love of all things fandoms and anxiety to keep being better. The romance had a bit of enemies to lovers feel, but there was also a bit of a triangle happening.
Things I really loved: - Kole and her love for sci-fi and fan fiction. - All the pop culture bits and book quotes! - Sweet, light romance with a bit of enemies to lovers
Things that weren't for me: - The conflict resolution was a bit oddly written. - The story ended very suddenly after a final confrontation that could've been wrapped up smoother.
Overall, I enjoyed this fun nerdy, teen story with so many fanfic and pop culture references!
*Thank you so much to Flux and NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
As much as I love a good “fandom writer grapples with dual identity” plot, the writing style of Down With This Ship was not up to par. All the characters feel like over the top caricatures, especially the antagonists and supposedly-responsible adults. The Spacer fandom is simultaneously social suicide and the most hotly debated topic in the school. And frankly, I don’t understand how such an immature protagonist is supposed to be such a stellar writer.
If you’re interested in the core premise, it’s better to check out “Eliza and Her Monsters,” “Fangirl,” or “Spoiler Alert.”
I honed a lot of my editing, reading, and reviewing skills in the world of fanzines and online fanfiction around TV SF fandoms especially, so I was very taken with the premise of this book. The fictional show this story revolves around feels very close to my favourite fandom, Blakes 7, with a bit of a nod also to Andromeda, which I loved for its first season and a half. There are also mentions within the book of some of my other fandoms, which makes the reading experience that bit more immersive. The characters are even of a similar age to that at which I started swapping stories with a classmate, although their fiction feels more polished than mine was at that point.
Kole Miller is in the top class for creative writing at her high-performing school, but she’s always nervous about sharing her work by reading it aloud to her fellows. This is not so true of her fanfiction for the popular show, The Space Game, which she shares in nightly instalments with thousands of readers on a popular blogging site. When Kole’s fic wins a major award, her readership suddenly shoots up. However, a lot of these new commenters are highly critical of her writing style and the relationship she favours in the show and her fic. Some of them are even local to her. No one at Kole’s school knows she is an author, but that may be about to change, because the school newspaper runs an article about the fic’s award and the fact that its writer is not only a local, but also one of the students.
Meanwhile, Kole has new neighbours: Noah, a slightly older boy, who soon befriends Kole and also her sporty big brother, along with Noah’s father, and Noah’s much younger twin sisters. Kole also gains increased attention from two other boys, the star pupil in most of her classes, with whom she fell out some years before after he critiqued her work a little too harshly, and one of the team writing for the school newspaper, who threatens to out Kole as the author of the award-winning fic, if she doesn’t fulfil a series of challenges set by him and his friend – a girl that Kole fell out with some years earlier due to their differing opinions on The Space Game.
Things come to a head, when Kole has to accompany the boy blackmailer to a school dance, and then has to allow the girl blackmailer to pass off one of Kole’s poems as her own for a school competition. Kole soon realises that not only is she compromising her integrity, but she will never get to attend the fan convention to which she has been invited or achieve her dream of becoming a screenwriter, if she can’t own her work. But admitting her misdeeds may mean she is barred from attending the convention anyway.
I enjoyed this book, although there were some aspects of the US high school experience that felt very alien to me as a Brit. Kole is an engaging character, and her friends and rivals have their own distinct personalities. I liked that Kole worked out which boy was genuinely interested in her with minimal angst, and enjoyed her easy friendship with one of the other girls. Also, she’s a bit of a klutz with relatable fears and anxieties. All in all, an author I want to read more from in the future.
Kole has a secret; she’s the writer behind the wildly popular fan-fiction series, Spacer, a twist on the science-fiction TV show The Space Game -- with a non-canon ship that is taking the internet by storm. When Kole wins an internet contest for Best Fan Ship, she’s catapulted into geek infamy, her blog getting millions of hits overnight -- and the mean comments and haters that come with it. Then a classmate figures out her secret, and Kole has a decision to make: be blackmailed and keep the life she’s known, or let the school -- and the world -- know she’s the voice behind science-fiction’s most popular story.
I was so excited to read this story. I ship so many pairings, canon and non-canon, from books to TV to film and comics, and to find a book that focuses on that special part of geekdom, fanfiction? So cool. But this one was a letdown. Kole is a wholly unrelatable protagonist, her decisions questionable, and her motivation unclear. On top of that, she somehow has not one, not two, but THREE different boys all up in her business, all at the same time. A love triangle is hard enough to do successfully, but a love quadrangle will not be easily bought.
Which brings me to my biggest issue with this story: the utter suspension of disbelief it takes to engage in this world. No matter how mainstream a pop culture topic can get, there is no freaking way an entire school would go to war over a fictional story, especially not when the topic is initially presented as being something so niche-ly nerdy and NOT mainstream at all. And adults joining in on the battle? You’re crazy. I might’ve bought it if it was presented as an alternate-reality similar to our own, but it’s very clear the world of the story is our own contemporary existence.
And it just wasn’t believable.
I’d say the prime audience for this book is a few years younger than the high schoolers it portrays; Kole’s character is inexperienced and it comes across both in her narrative and in the fanfiction snippets we’re shown. Snippets that don’t serve the story in any way; they don’t move the story along, or add to Kole’s inner monologue. And they’re often superfluously rehashed in dialogue.
Though a shorter novel, it’s somehow still too long. Every single detail of Kole’s actions is spelled out, to an unnecessary degree; I’d much rather have her and the secondary characters be fleshed out. The book’s villains are copy-cat bad guys you’d find in any high school film from the early 2000s -- but Regina George is memorable.
I’d recommend for ages 10-14, for those readers that are as crazy into the fanfiction world as Kole, and less concerned with a believable world.
*Special thanks to the publisher, Flux, and NetGalley for providing an e-arc in exchange for a fair and honest review!*
“Down with This Ship” is an adorable contemporary young adult novel that focuses on a talented girl dealing with anxiety, romance, high school, and blackmail, and it was very entertaining!
I loved Kole and thought she was the highlight of the story. It was interesting to see how she deals with her anxiety and fear of talking in the convention and revealing her identity. As if that is not enough, she also has to deal with her crushes and her awkwardness around Noah. Furthermore, she also fears being outed as the owner of the fanfic by Damien. Kole shares sweet moments with her mom and Will that made the story so charming.
Similarly, I also enjoyed the cute YA romance in the story. Kole shares excellent chemistry between Noah and Colin, and it was interesting to see who she would choose in the end. Some of the scenes that Kole shares with them are adorable and romantic. Moreover, the author also wrote the negative characters like Damien and Hailey in a deliciously evil manner, where you loathe them for how they blackmail Kole.
Moreover, there are also some minor things that I appreciated the author for including, the use of challenging SAT words, as well as Pippa’s story arc in the fanfic. It was interesting to see how Pippa’s storyline progressed and reflected Kole’s anxiety. I also enjoyed how the author toggled between formats and read the comments of fans over the fanfic posts. Finally, I loved the scenes in the Dance and thought it was the highlight of the story.
Overall, I enjoyed “Down with This Ship” and look forward to reading more works by the author in the future.
It’s sad to see in other reviews, readers describing the way a 17-year-old girl behaves as ‘immature’. It makes me feel a certain way about who is actually the target audience for a book that is very explicitly YA. Spoiler; if you think a teenager worrying about what her friends will think of her, agonising over whether a boy likes her, or having anxiety about not living up to her parents’ expectations is immature… you’re not the intended audience for this book.
Yes, there were moments when I thought “Oh, honey, you should have just done this…” but I’ve seen 17 nearly three times now. When I was 17, I’d have made exactly the same mistakes as Kole. I DID make some of the same mistakes, including caving to bullies because I thought they had the power to affect me. Like Kole, though, I discovered I had people in my corner, and that shining light on cockroaches makes them scuttle for cover. That’s the real story in this book, Kole hitting the end of her rope and finding a well of strength inside herself. Being pushed into a corner and coming out swinging - at one point, literally - and realising that doing so is taking back her own power.
The end might be a bit wish-fulfilment, but you know what? Seanan McGuire got her start writing Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic, so Kole’s dreams coming true aren’t all that far-fetched.
Katie Kingman has obviously spent plenty of time in fandom. She’s also put in the work to create a proper fake fandom for this book; it was one of my pet peeves about Spoiler Alert, another recent book with a fanfic-author heroine, that the fandom hadn’t had the serial numbers filed off thoroughly enough. Kingman’s done the job well enough that I, who also spend a lot of time in fandom, really don’t know what ship the main couple was based on (though I can make an educated guess, considering only a few ships have really attracted anti-fandoms). The fandom isn’t the important part about this book, though. It’s the message to the intended readers, the teenagers who love fandom and want to dream big. Don’t let the haters get you down. If you’re pushed into a corner, come out swinging and let the truth set you free. And; there will always be someone on your side. Find your fellow shippers and you’re gonna be just fine.
Five stars for a read I thoroughly enjoyed… even though I’m probably three decades too old for the intended audience.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.
I received an ARC of Down with this Ship by Katie Kingman thanks to the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Review: If you were anything like me when you were younger you either read or wrote fanfiction. Taking these characters and worlds and shaping them into something that is more appealing to me (or looking for stories that went in the direction I wanted) solidified by love of reading. It held me over in the years where I had moved away from chapter books, like Magic Tree House, but wasn't quite read to tackle young adult books. Why didn't I read middle grade? Great question. I honestly had no idea what it was or that it even existed. I went from Magic Tree House to Harry Potter (which when I first tried I hated). Instead I read what was assigned in school (Fever 1793, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Bridge to Terabithia, etc.). While I loved most of these stories, they were 'work'. Fanfiction gave me back the power. of choice when it came to reading. It also gave me an outlet when I had no one else to talk to. While this has nothing to do with Down with the Ship, it is important to know my stance on the fanfiction matter of the book might be a bit biased.
If you couldn't guess, Down with the Ship includes some aspects of fanfiction. Actually, the framework of the story is based around fanfiction. Specifically, the writing of fanfiction and how insane fans can be (of the fanfiction and the story it is based on). If you could not guess by what I've said about the book so far, Down with Ship refers to character pairings, or ships, which can become a brutal battle between shippers (think Team Edward and Team Jacob fans for Twilight).
The writing is funny and sweet. The characters are fantastic. I found myself laughing at multiple points because of the geeky humor. I loved reading the fanfiction 'inserts' that Kole was writing, although I do wish those scene were longer. I would loooove to see Spacer as a full novel. Like taking those scenes out of Down with the Ship and releasing a companion novel.
Overall, the story was fantastic. I enjoyed the feelings of nostalgia that it gave me.
Thank you to NetGalley and Flux for the ARC of this book. All opinions in this review are my own.
I am not sure where to start with this review other than this book gave me the feels. It has been a while since a book caused me to put it down and physically walk away from it while verbally responding to it because of what happened - in this case it was me walking away repeating "no" over and over again while running into a different room. I am very prone to suffering from secondhand embarrassment, especially if I am invested in what I am involved in (book/movie/tv show), and this book had me suffering from that twice! The second time I just crossed my arms, dealt with the goosebumps, and tried to not start crying. All of this to be said, I finished this book in about 5 hours, desperate to know that Kole made it out of everything ok and got her happy ending. Let's just say I teared up at the ending in the best way.
I have read other books like this before, but there was something about this one that has put it over the top compared to the others. I don't think I can pinpoint what it was that Kingman tapped into with this book that made it that much more enjoyable than the others I read, but I think the honesty that was written into this book really brought it to a different level. Kole is a very relatable character to anyone who had a "weird" hobby in high school, was just trying to get by and didn't feel like they fit in. The characters all felt well-rounded and I had feelings/opinions about all of the characters, even ones that appeared only for a page.
I don't want to say too much about the actual plot because this isn't a completely unpredictable book, but I don't find that to be a major flaw. Sometimes there is comfort in the predictability, especially when there are still elements of the unknown. Even reading an uncorrected proof of this book didn't limit my enjoyment of this story, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is drawn in by the cover or the plot description.
DOWN WITH THIS SHIP is an intriguing YA contemporary read about pursuing your dreams and embracing yourself. Kole is a fanfiction writer for The Space Game, a popular show about space pirates, and she dreams of writing TV shows someday. When she finds out that she has won a major award for her fanfiction, her webpage views skyrocket and the resultant attention is a difficult combination of positive and negative. The new criticism leads her to doubt herself and her writing.
When people at school figure out who she is online and hold her blog hostage, Kole has to face down her inner turmoil and conflicts at school. At the same time, her own love life is getting more interesting with ships moving from the fanfic to her actual life.
What I loved: A strong element of this book is the reflections on confidence and social media that are present throughout. Kole gets a lot of attention, and while she expects the good things to come her way from the award, she does not anticipate the windfall of criticism and negative comments. The way that these can really get under someone's skin are illustrated really well in the story. Kole learns about herself and self-confidence throughout the book, which something that will resonate with YA readers. The love triangle and high school crushes were fun overall, even though there were some bumps in the road along the way.
What left me wanting more: The book really slows down in the middle, and I would have appreciated a faster pace to hold attention. There are places where the plot does not seem to advance much. While it was cool to see some of her fanfiction, there was quite a bit of it, and I think additional context would have been needed to really enjoy it, as it did not quite reflect the story or help the reader to understand the plot better.
Final verdict: DOWN WITH THIS SHIP is an interesting YA contemporary read with messages about social media, criticism, and self-confidence.
Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
First off: I adore fanfiction. I read and write it in my (limited) spare time. I love that it's becoming mainstream enough to put in a novel, that people realise it's not just 'smut written by middle aged women' but actual, proper, hard work. Show me a novel about fanfic, I'm there.
These things are really subjective, I know. But Kole's writing just didn't seem that good to me. Possibly because we never learn enough about the actual show to know what's meant to be going on; possibly because it's presented in tiny snippets of about a page and a half (if I came across a fanfic with chapters that short, I would not be reading. Again, subjective.)
Kole herself is an odd character. I sympathised with her a lot over some things, and not at all over others. For instance, she refuses to even consider the notion that other people are allowed to have different opinions. When her friends suggested that they prefer a different romantic pairing in a fictional show, she straight up cut them out of her life. That's the kind of fan that most fans disavow, because they give fandom a bad name. Everyone's allowed their opinion, but it's very bad form to berate someone over theirs.
And, as someone else pointed out; show runners, writers, and most actors avoid fanfic like the plague. They don't want to leave themselves open to claims of stealing ideas from the writers. There's just no way that the whole cast and crew of The Space Game know about, read and discuss Kole's blog.
However, those issues might not bother people who aren't really into fanfiction, and if you're just looking for a cute read about teen love, this is an excellent choice; the pace is good, the dilemmas are gripping and by the end, when Kole is advocating for people of all 'ships to live in harmony, I was smiling. If you're looking for a nice, light read, this is it. Just remember; the best 'ship of all is friendship. (It's not, it's clearly Tony and Pepper, but wasn't that a nice note to end on?)
[Thanks to NetGalley and Flux for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.]
It's been a LONG time since I accidentally stayed up until 2 a.m. 'one more chapter-ing' my way to the end of a book, but I read over half of this in one sitting, because it was just that good. I'm many years removed from high school, but Kole still resonated with me, both in terms of who I was then and who I am now. I think there's a little bit of Kole in most people, however it might look.
All of the characters in Down With This Ship were dynamic and refreshing. I found myself genuinely invested in both of Kole's real-life ships, even if I was definitely right there with Michaela rooting for one a little bit more than the other. Love triangles come up often in YA novels, but rarely does an author strike the balance so neatly between the two sides and still leave me feeling satisfied and fulfilled with the ending.
The interlacing of the story's narrative and Kole's fanfic kept me engaged in both plots - and I'm not even a sci-fi fan! It allowed me to see how Kole's personal life made its way onto her blog, how her world came to life in her words. By the ending, I was almost disappointed not to read about a series finale for The Space Game. Not because I wanted it cancelled, but because I wanted to know what direction the show is going to take!
I'm already looking forward to rereading this lighthearted and relatable take on what it's like to come of age at a time when social media rules our daily lives and fandoms are an integral part of so many people's media consumption. It was really fascinating for me to see fandom lingo - the sorts of words and abbreviations my friends and I throw around online - breaking the barrier and becoming part of mainstream media. Overall, this is a must-read for people involved in fandoms at almost any level and genre.