Synopsis: Feeling like an outsider in a new city and at a new school, Mariam finds that her love of comic-book superheroes overlaps with the interests of a new friend who is otaku, crazy about manga and anime. Together, Mariam and Tya plan their costumes for the big fan convention. Mariam is comfortable with her choice of character, partly because as Haruhi, she can dress in a costume that doesn’t bare too much skin.
When Tya can’t go to the convention, Mariam is relieved to meet up with some boys who are dressed as the rest of the group from Haruhi’s manga. Rick, dressed as Haruh”s love interest, insists that Mariam spend all her time with him, doing things that their characters like to do and playing out their romance. When he tries to physically force himself on her, Mariam realizes that Rick is taking the game way too seriously, but how can she escape his attention?
This novel explores the appealing world of comic books and graphic novels that has growing numbers of young people exploring role playing and attending fan conventions.
Thoughts: *I received a free ebook copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.*
As a fan of anime, manga, and comic books, I felt at home with this novel. Many recognizable shows and characters, such as Haruhi of Ouran High School Host Club and the countries of Hetalia, were mentioned, some of which even come to play big roles in the plot.
Despite this book having references to things that I’m interested in, it fell short for me in a variety of ways.
The plot was very slow at the beginning, and it felt like there was less of the actual Con than Mariam’s personal life, which consists of her extremely over protective mother, (even my mom isn’t that over protective!) her new friend Tya, who gets her interested in Anime, and her trying to keep in contact with her old friends via video chat. The characters seemed to be mostly stereotypes, with the sweet, yet manipulative prince charming, the overly-excited
To be honest, Mariam felt like a bit of a push-over. Sure, she was dealing with manipulative characters (Rick, and to some extent, Tya,) but she should have had more of a backbone in order to keep from doing things she wasn’t comfortable with. I believe that she could serve as an example of what not to do, such as leaving crowded areas while in dangerous situations and always going with a friend in crowded unfamiliar places. She was our main character, and she seemed to be a very flat character. There was nothing about her that really made me want to root for her, and I didn’t feel any connections aside from our shared love of comics and anime.
Still, I won’t say that it wasn’t a good book. There were plenty of amusing pop culture references and it’s definitely an eye opener for people who go to cons. No matter what they say about cosplay and consent, there are always people who will abuse the fun of the con and ruin it for others. People planning to go to cons will probably learn a bit from this book.
Fans of Gamer Girl by Mari Mancusi will enjoy this novel, as well as anyone who wants to read about Comic/Anime culture and conventions. People planning on attending a con in the future will find this to be an enlightening cautionary novel.