Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: 3.5/5 stars Series: Yes - first book
Violet’s in her element. Cosplay at the ready, she can’t wait to feel part of her favourite fandom: The Gallows Dance, a mega book and movie franchise that she and her friends know EVERY WORD of (canon and fanfic included).
But at Comic Con, a freak accident transports Violet and her friends into the story for real. And in just the first five minutes, they cause the death of the heroine, and get taken prisoner by the rebel group she was supposed to lead to victory.
It’s up to Violet to take her place, and play out the plot the way it was written. But stories have a life of their own, and when you change the script in one place, the rest gets revised too…
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
The concept of this book is every bookworm’s fantasy – to fall into your favourite character and have to play the part. Of course, as you’d expect, it’s not all fun and games being thrust into the danger.
The story starts off wobbling, with the first chapter being a massive info dump of what the fake book’s plot (aka, ‘the canon’) is supposed to be before they derail it. It bogs the start down, and the initial ‘argh, we’re in the book’ felt a little contrived. They didn’t seem half scared enough, with all the emotions feeling artificially inserted.
Many of the people I’ve talked to about this book DNF’d it, but I read this in the middle of choir rehearsal breaks (when the guys are singing their pieces and we girls have to be silent so they can practice). I think this is why I got all the way to the end – I didn’t have anything else to read. And I’m glad I finished it, because it gets better.
The story really picks up once Violet starts following her gut/heart and deviates from ‘the cannon’ (this word is overused a lot, and you get so sick of it). Rather than being told what’s got to happen and seeing her parrot lines woodenly, Violet makes her own choices and we really see more of who she is.
The tug of war between trying to finish the story to go home and following her heart for what she believes is right in this skewed version of the world was nice to watch. The world is so much more complex than Violet realised, and her awakening was great as she stepped out of the character’s shoes.
I like Violet, but her brother Nate was my favourite. He’s so snarky and in a state of flux between full out fanboy and cynical teen. The relationship between the siblings was great. Katie is a woefully underused character (with the best insults) but Alice is just not nice.
The ‘canon’ has some problematic elements. Most are eventually mentioned, but not the main one (the MC dies and it inspires the man to start a revolution). I’m sick and tired of women dying to spur character arcs in men. Yes, the guy is shown as weak and feeble, but never is this concept shot down (the twist on it is nice).
Not to mention to casual allusions to rape that aren’t given half the weight they ought to. It feels tossed out there because it’s simply considered a hallmark of an evil society without considering how the very portrayal of this evil is normalising it. I worry that YA and Fantasy are using sexual abuse as short cuts for ‘this society/world is bad’ without showing any of the affect it has on victims.
Unfortunately, the finale is overshadowed by the previous chapter where our MC meets the evil president and he explains why she’s there. It’s weird, and detracts from the story. It’d be nice if that chapter wasn’t present, and it was just left a mystery how and why they were there (not to mention the many ‘twists’ and ‘betrayals’ come too fast). Honestly, I think a simple ‘it was all a dream’ would have worked better. Also, the final scene premise is laughable – particularly the idealistic, wishful view it paints of publishing.
For all the fun THE FANDOM has poking at classic dystopian tropes, it’s very guilty of them. Meet a very handsome man who’s only a side character in the ‘canon’ with one of the ‘silly names’ they’ve just been joking about? You bet it – he’s the love interest.
All in all, the book gets better, but you have to work past the opening.
Read my reviews of other books by Anna Day:
The Fandom (this series):
- THE FANDOM RISING (#2)