4 YA Novels for Fans Missing Con Season
It’s Con Season! Or, well, it should be. Normally, this time of year I would be packing my bags full of cosplay costumes and fandom t-shirts (making sure to leave enough space for the huge amount of fan art/merch that I would inevitably be buying the second I got onto the exhibit hall floor), but alas, it’s 2020, and nothing is normal right now.
Sure, we have the great virtual cons filled with panels and giveaways and virtual booths and other experiences to enjoy. And these definitely do have an upside: no hours spent waiting line, no fighting for space in crowded exhibit halls, and you will definitely get into that panel you were dying to see, no matter how popular it is. I do recommend checking them out if you haven’t already!
But in between online panels and virtual con shopping, if, like me, you find yourself missing that hectic, crowded, always unique and always surprising con experience, here’s a few book recommendations to help fill the gap, and remind you that you aren’t alone out there. Your fellow geeks and nerds are still around and they miss you too!
All the Feels by Danika Stone
School Library Journal described this book as “an insider’s look at the life of a fangirl” and it really, really is. Not only does it cover the emotional investment of a true fan, but it also captures the wonder of moving out of your comfort zone and finding your tribe. One of my favorite moments is when Liv first walks into Dragon Con:
“It seemed Liv had spent the last eighteen years in search of her people, and in one sudden explosion of fate, they'd all been brought together in this place in time. Her eyes filled with tears as a sudden awareness filled her. They were all nerds.”
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
Proclaimed “the geeky, queer book of our dreams” by Seventeen, this book has not one, but two very different love stories, weaving through the tale of three friends on a long awaited convention journey.
“Are we truly worthy of so much awesome?” I ask. ... Crowds of cosplayers line the entrances. I smile at those who look my way. We pass Batman posing for a photo with Groot, Jessica Jones walking hand in hand with Michonne, and Goku lining up behind Darth Vader to buy coffee. A little girl dressed as Captain Malcolm Reynolds runs toward a group of Marty McFly cosplayers and asks for a closer look at their hoverboards. My geeky kindred spirits.”
Ship It by Britta Lundin
Author Zan Romanoff said that this book is “the lived-in, fleshed-out portrait [fandom] deserves.” Not only is Claire, its heroine, incredibly relatable, but it’s written by someone who really understands the world, and it very much captures that convention feeling.
“There’s an energy in this place, and it doesn’t even matter that the carpet is ugly and the fluorescent lights wash out everyone’s skin—it’s beautiful. The whole lobby is humming with excited fans—I see lots of young people, but also middle-aged couples, moms and dads with tiny kids. I see every body type, every fashion style, and like, so much more racial diversity than you’d ever find in Pine Bluff. … That’s when it really hits me. There are absolutely no Kyle Cunninghams here. There are no Andrea Garcias. There isn’t a single John Deere hat. There’s no shame. These people get it. These people get me.”
Con Quest by Sam Maggs
This book is aimed at a slightly younger set of con-goers, but it still does a great job of getting that con feeling across. As Kirkus says, “It’s the next best thing to attending a con” and there’s a fun scavenger hunt element attached as well. (Remind me to tell you all about my love of GISH sometime!)
“Cat saw an opening and pushed forward, squeezing between a very tall, very pregnant, costumed lady and someone in full-body futuristic space armor. … Her cape tightened around her neck and Cat was yanked backward, bouncing like a pinball off the space soldier’s flimsy plastic shell and the costumed lady’s thigh. … Cat yanked her costume back into place. She’d been poring over screencaps of her favorite anime online for months to get the details just right for this convention, but honestly, it was held together by a safety pin and a wish. ... Sorry, she mouthed, backing away from the lady in costume. In response, the woman bowed her head and brought her gold wrist cuffs together with a wink. Her way of saying Don’t worry about it without needing words.”