I bought this book, Gena/Finn, two years ago at the Big Bad Wolf book sale event. I was captivated by it’s cover and it’s synopsis, which was about having a legit solid friendship in the internet.
Little did I know I would be whiplashed with its story and it’s meta.
Gena (short for Genevieve) and Finn (short for Stephanie) have little in common. Book-smart Gena is preparing to leave her posh boarding school for college; down-to-earth Finn is a twenty-something struggling to make ends meet in the big city. Gena’s romantic life is a series of reluctant one-night-stands; Finn is making a go of it with long-term boyfriend Charlie. But they share a passion for Up Below, a buddy cop TV show with a cult fan following. Gena is a darling of the fangirl scene, keeping a popular blog and writing fan fiction. Finn’s online life is a secret, even from Charlie. The pair spark an unlikely online friendship that deepens quickly (so quickly it scares them both), and as their individual “real” lives begin to fall apart, they increasingly seek shelter online, and with each other. (Goodreads)
As a person who grew up adoring different kinds of media, entering fandoms is kind of a must for me. From music artists to anime to tv series, I pretty much joined different kinds of fandom already. LOL.
Through the fandom, I was able to meet different kind of people in the internet, and in some ways, I am lucky to meet amazing people and not the creepy ones. I actually was able to make genuine friendship through the fandom and the internet.
Gena/Finn is pretty much a book about that. -ish.
The book follows two different people, who formed a genuine friendship through the internet, by spazzing and go crazy on a specific crime serial drama, Up Below.
I really really like this book.
From its story to how it was told, I am a fan. However, I do have issues with it, too, and it disappointed me.
I love the story.
I mean, duh, I can relate to it.
From the way the characters spazz about their favorite characters and fanfics to connecting to a fellow fan in the internet. Definitely can relate. No doubt about it.
The book was able to highlight and feature the fun and the toxicity in being part of a fandom. It just shows how the authors, Hannah Moskowitz & Kat Helgeson, know wtf they are writing about. And I love it.
Not only that, the book was able to capture how easy and natural we could share, especially our own real life problems, to a stranger in the internet. We easily pour out our heart and soul to someone, especially when you felt a “sort of connection” with them.
What’s that “sort of connection”, you ask?
It’s that feeling like the other person gets you, even though you guys just met/talked/known each other for few days or weeks. People tend to feel this, especially when they talk about something both of them liked and they never felt this connection in real life.
I admit, I also felt this connection on some internet friends of mine, and believe me when I say I shared tons of information to them. Lol.
Both the main characters, Gena & Finn, felt this connection with each other and the next thing they know, they are bffs.
However, things turned sour when unwanted feelings got involved.
Sigh, it’s around this time when the story fell off.
Literally, the tone of the book changed from fun and enjoyable to frustrating, sad and serious. What the heck was that?!?
First of all, I would totally be down if the book focused more on the fandom stuff and go deep. Talk more about the fanfics, the toxicity of some fans, trashtalks, making theories and analysis, all of it. I mean, it was their selling point. Unfortunately, the balance between the fandom and irl stuff changed in the 2nd half. The fandom aspects took the back seat, as we dive in more into real life and how both, Gena and Finn’s life clashes. And I am not happy with this.
Look, I love drama, I love angst. I definitely wanted to know more about Gena and Finn’s life outside the fandom, both had interesting and relatable background stories.
It was just the change of tone wasn’t executed well.
Yes, there had been some foreshadowing or red flags shown in the first half, but the fun was still present and it made me, the reader, easily digest the complicated lives of our protagonists. I wasn’t surprised about the 180 story direction change wasn’t a slap in my face, but by actually removing the “fun” in the 2nd half, it made me lose a bit of my enjoyment of the book.
I do want to admit, though, that the twist, the one near end of part 2, blew my mind. I totally didn’t expect the extent of the damage. Kudos to the writers for going beyond my expectations.
I also appreciate how they carefully wrote Gena’s struggle with mental health issues. It wasn’t downplayed and was handled with care. Though, I do have issues with her responses in the part 3, which I will be discussing in the next section.
(Author’s note: If you reached this part and you are interested with the book, feel free to close this review and grab a copy of the book and read it. The next section with cover a bit of spoilers and I don’t want to damage your possible enjoyment of the book. However, if you really don’t mind spoilers, then feel free to continue.)
GENA/FINN: The Main Characters and their Relationship
Gena and Finn are complicated individuals. Each of them have their own issues and struggles they personally don’t show with their peers and family in real life, but through their instant connection, both were able to find comfort with each other. However, this instant friendship was both amazing and problematic.
Amazing, because their chemistry together is through the roof. You can really tell that they enjoy each other’s company and they bounce well with each other. However, as their friendship continues to grow, the personal issues and struggles slowly starts to creep into their little bubble, and then with the mix of “feelings”, everything just…exploded.
I will admit. After reading the synopsis, I really thought this book was for sapphics. I could feel the “gayness” from the interactions of the two. So, a part of me, kind of rooted for them to end up together or something. But there is another part of me, who wants them to remain besties cuz their dynamic as bffs is amazing.
The book went both? It was confusing. Let me explain.
It was around the 2nd half of the book, both Gena and (especially) Finn, struggled hard as unwanted feelings for each other continue to grow the more they interact with each other. Both of them couldn’t understand wtf is going on with their feelings. Finn also has a boyfriend which made things more complicated.
It was around here I actually thought they would actually explore these new feelings or their “bisexuality” with each other. And for some point, they did…but one chickened out.
This is where the message of the book comes in. We can’t control who we love, and there are different kinds of love in this world. It’s easier to associate Love to Romance, but Love could also be platonic too.
Both Gena and Finn clearly care for each other, heck, they needed and crave for each other. But not sexually. It was more of unconditional love for each other. And this was proven after the twist. Finn was there for Gena, through thick and thin. Even though the former was struggling and even faltered, she didn’t give in and was just there for Gena.
And I loved this. Their friendship became more precious.
However, like I said before I started this section, I had some issues with regarding to Gena’s side of things in part 3.
Yes, she was going through some stuff. Her recovery was the first priority.
But the moment we see her take that first step, that moment were we see her slowly try go back and regain control of her life…the book ended.
WHAT THE ACTUAL F*CK.
The book was about to go full circle, bruh. The fun spark that was lost after the change of tone was slowly lighting up again. The freakin’ book ended.
What the heck.
UUUUGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH…Such a wasted potential, man.
I mean, yes, after that twist, believe me, I totally understand that it will never be the same anymore. That’s the thing, the book would go full circle if both protagonists goes back to the fandom, facing the new reality, and embrace the changes. But nope, the book just…ends.
GENA/FINN: The META and the timing is too real and weird
I dunno if you guys noticed, but I am currently part of the Legacies fandom, specifically, the Hosie fandom. I had been a part of this fandom for months now and I am really enjoying my time here, even though sometimes the toxicity is too much. All is good.
Lately, I got a chance to connect and form friendships with amazing people within the fandom. Through DM’s and chats, I got to know some of them personally.
There was a specific person I got to personally know of. She was a fanfic writer and I was a fan of her works. We are now good friends and we spazz our feels together whenever we have a Hosie breakdown or discuss some fanfic stories.
Enter this book.
The moment I read the start book, I felt whiplashed by how meta this was. The timing was too real and it weirded me out.
The similarities between the 2 protagonists and to me and my friend was too much. It was like I was reading my own story in a book.
However, as the plot goes on in the book, the meta gradually disappears. Ha!
Still, everything definitely weirded me out.
Good thing this book is a work of fiction.
GENA/FINN: OVERALL THOUGHTS
Even after all the mishaps of this book, I can still say I really enjoyed reading this book. Not only this was a fun to read, the way the story was told was really unique. Rather than the typical paragraphed storytelling, we get instead, a bunch of emails, written letters/journals and texts between the characters. And damn, it made the reading experience more amazing.
The major highlight of this book would definitely be the fandom aspect. It was extremely accurate, I couldn’t stop smiling reading through it. Another major highlight would be the internet-formed friendships. They are precious and true, just like any other relationships we form in real life.
Definitely, if you are into that or is interested with it, then this book is a must read.
Holy moly! I didn’t expect I would write this long. I am actually reaching 2k words.
It’s been a long while since I wrote a book review. My last review about Jack Samomite, that was like…last year. That’s why, in some ways, this new book review is precious to me.
As you can see, I went all out with my thoughts. Hahahahah.
I apologize for the longevity though.
This has been Will Sirius and see you on my next post.