Stranger than Fanfiction: Shares the good and bad of fandom

Stranger than Fanfiction book review

What is this about?: Sam, Topher, Joey and Mo are part of a group of friends who have bonded over their love for the TV show Wiz Kids. That show and their friendship has seen them through the toughest times of their lives, and now on the cusp of college (or university) as the case may be, they worry about losing touch and growing up.

What else is this about?: They all have their secrets and are scared to share. The fandom has brought them together, but they still keep some things to themselves. This is also about growing up and stepping out into the world as who you are. Thing is, Cash, the TV superstar? Is facing those same demons.

Stars: 3.5

Blurb: Cash Carter is the young, world famous lead actor of the hit television Wiz Kids. When four fans jokingly invite him on a cross-country road trip, they are shocked that he actually takes them up on it. Chased by paparazzi and hounded by reporters, this unlikely crew takes off on a journey of a lifetime–but along the way they discover that the star they love has deep secrets he’s been keeping. What they come to learn about the life of the mysterious person they thought they knew will teach them about the power of empathy and the unbreakable bond of true friendship.

Fandom is this crazy, beautiful, fun, dark and disturbing place for fans, so you can well imagine what it must be for actors perusing their online fandom. It’s easy for the bad and the quirky fan stories to go viral, but beyond all that are the fans that bond over their love for a TV show, and know each better that anyone else can. The fandom is really just the beginning, and an online friendship can be just as important as one with your friend in school that you see every day. 

And that’s where Sam, Topher, Joey and Mo are at when their stories open.

The Roadtrip!

This is their last big hurrah before adulthood, and also a little bit to make them forget the next season of Wiz Kids is still up in the air, which yes, that matters and it’s agony waiting for that renewal announcement. So, the day before they’re off, Topher sends Cash Carter, the lead on the show a message inviting him on their roadtrip.

And then, Cash says yes. 

The roadtrip is to all the most boring sites that you can imagine — yes, there’s a big ball of something involved. Cash is horrified at just how bored he is, and proceeds to invite them to do … let’s just say things they never really would ever before. 

He opens their eyes, brutally.

Cash Carter 

Is tired. He’s tired of contracts, and the show, and the egos he has to work with every day. He wants out of his contract and his costars all assume his recent behaviour is his attempt to break his contract. But Cash doesn’t care — he is the Hollywood bad boy, and he is certainly living up to that label.

When he is introduced, he proceeds to break down the idealistic notions the fabulous foursome have of him, much to their horror. And while he may resent the pedestal fans have placed him on, he manages to win them over, and to astutely wheedle out a couple of secrets of the foursome along the way. 

Sam, Topher, Joey and Mo

They are idealistic and worried about the concerns of their show as an escape from the problems of their lives. And anyone reading will be able to understand that easily. Into their fragile balance come Cash. He crashes into their lives and opens their eyes to the realities of his life, thanks to fans — not like them — but fans nonetheless. It’s brutal and eyeopening for them, and they resent him a little for it. 

But he’s still part of their trip, and still manages to convince them into doing things they wouldn’t — and finds out their secrets.

This is all about reality and appearances, and what people and actors have to go through for both. Colfer plays with perceptions, and will give you pause about your assumptions by the end of the book. 

However, there are some missed chances along the way here, and I would have liked to know more about the secrets and the fabulous foursome deal with their choices and secrets. Things are perhaps tied up into too much of a bright red bow. I will admit, part of me did think some of the characters were deserving of that red bow, so I didn’t mind it too much despite the missed chances.

Chris Colfer

Is just growing from strength to strength as a writer I think. I did wonder how much of his experiences were in this, and from what I’ve heard about some parts of the Glee fandom, I was kind of sad for him. But, trust him to make something wonderful and thoughtful out of it!

13 Comments

  • Silvia says:

    You got me curious with this one! I’d better note it down 😉

    • Verushka says:

      It’s cute, but within the cuteness, I like the what CC was saying about fandom and what t means to live in that life.

  • Fandom books are always such interesting reads. I like how this one sounds like we get the perspective of both the fan side of it and the actor side of it. I may have to give this one a try. Great review!

    • Verushka says:

      They are — it’s another plot I’ve seen come up more and more recently and I am loving it! This one is on the cute side, but CC had some good, interesting thigns to say about fandom and life within it.

  • This sounds like a really thought-provoking and potentially unsettling read. As someone who used to be really into The 100 fandom (it is a bad, toxic place) I can totally understand how fans get so sucked into the personal lives – or rather, their *ideas* of the personal lives – of the stars of their fandom. It’s pretty intense for everyone involved, including the actors, I’m sure.

  • I do love Chris Colfer – I have a copy of this one that I really need to read it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts – I’m glad you liked most aspects of the story.

  • I’ve seen mixed reviews for this book. On the one hand, it’s written by a really famous actor! And diversity! And road trip! But I know a few bloggers who I follow didn’t really enjoy the book. I actually passed on my review copy to another blogger. I can’t remember if she read it or not yet… in any case. It seems like you enjoyed the book for the most part and that is great!

    Wonderful review, Verushka! Have a fantastic week. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  • Lily says:

    i’ll keep an eye on it, it looks interesting despite the missed chances

  • Greg says:

    Hmm this is the guy who writes The Land of stories books right? I think we have all those here. 🙂 Sounds interesting… fandoms plus road trip. I wasn’t aware of this one. I would hate to be on a show I think and have to deal with fandom, seems like it would be so tough. I mean you would appreciate the fans of course but it would also be nerve wracking? And forget about going on Twitter lol.

  • Sounds like a fun premise! But it also sounds really interesting, everything you described about how they put him on a pedestal and he opens their eyes to the reality and finds out their secrets. I’m not a road trip contemporary type reader, but I’m intrigued!

  • I mean a road trip is always something I will pick up and the premise is so interesting. Maybe one day I will get to it! Great review!

  • divabooknerd says:

    Even being a YA reader I’m still disappointed I haven’t read anything of his as yet. I was a fan of Glee in the early days but stopped watching after Corey died. The show just wasn’t the same. I’ve read a few articles and interviews and Chris seems like a bit of an enigma himself. Perhaps living vicariously through his characters as well. I might give this one a try still but not expecting much more than an afternoon of entertainment. Wonderful review sweetheart <3

  • Jordan Rumsey says:

    Hi. I was wondering if this was the 1983-1984 tv show Whiz Kids. Also the main charector of that show is Richie who is played by an actor named Matthew.

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