Monday, May 30, 2016

Review: Gena/Finn

Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz & Kat Helgeson
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: May 17th, 2016
Source: ALA Midwinter
Date Read: 5/21/16 to 5/22/16
287 pages

The story follows the unlikely friendship of two young women forged via fan fiction and message boards, and is told entirely in texts, chats, and blog posts.

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.

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

It's no surprise that when I started Gena/Finn, I was hooked. With the plot revolving around going to a convention, fangirling about common interests, it's hard to NOT think of our book blogging community.

Gena and Finn come to know each other through a TV show called Up Below. Along with talking about the show, they also open up to each other (because let's be honest, talking to strangers is so much easier than talking to real life people. Looking at you Shannon, Holly, & Amber). Through emails and texts, we find that the both of them are struggling in real life, and turning to each other for support.

I'm sure that many of us book bloggers will find the start of Gena/Finn incredibly easy to connect to. I open up so much more online, and I love how tightly connected the book blogging community is. The same can be said with the Up Below fandom, which is why it's not a problem to get tickets and room with your friends at an Up Below convention. Just like BEA and ALA! Just reading about Gena and Finn bonding over this TV show made me think of all the friend I have made due to book blogging. Also, the quote below has crossed my mind multiple times, when it came to other book bloggers (cough Amber cough).

"So anyways, I said I was thinking about going with some people I knew online, and he got SO judgmental. How did I know these people? Why did I want to go on vacation with random internet people? What if they were actually fifty-year-old rapists?"

(Pretty sure that was my roommates' exact line of questioning in regards to BEA last year, ha)

Unfortunately, the pros end there. The last third of the book was shocking, unexpected, and not well explained. I'm just going to list them out below, highlight for spoilers!

  • Just going to go straight to the point, but what is with [spoiler] Gena getting caught up in the accident while filming? Like, I get it, it could have happened. But unexpected much? [end spoiler] I'm kind of at a loss for words.
  • And to follow up on that, what exactly [spoiler] happened to Gena? I know she had a mental illness, but it was never really described fully. Like what happened to her during the accident? did she suffer tons of burns? Was she just in shock, and her mental illness made it worse? Literally all that was said in the novel was that she went to the hospital, and Finn picked her up after she was discharged. [end spoiler]
  • Lastly, the...relationship. At what point [spoiler] did Finn and Gena fall in love? Or was this not a romance? Because I am so confused. Was Charlie just jealous because Finn spent a lot of time with Gena, and thought about her a lot? Or was he jealous because he noticed that Finn loved Gena, and Gena loved her back. And if that is the case, WHEN did that happen? I feel like I didn't see the transition from being friends to being in love. [end spoiler]
  • How is Finn even allowed to [spoiler] take Gena to her house after the hospital? And then, does Charlie fall in love with Gena too? There were some weird scenes I feel like. Or does he also grow attached to her too? [end spoiler]

That was....a lot. Honestly, I would still recommend this book because I'm sure all of us can connect to it. However, the ending definitely threw me off a ton. There was definitely a shock factor, and for me, it wasn't a good one.
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