Summary: 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’ve made no secret of the fact that I was heavily involved in the Harry Potter fandom back in the day. Though the subject of fandom has been addressed in several YA novels in recent years, never had I seen one that I felt accurately depicted the intensity of bonds made online with others who *get it* when it comes to your favorite book, TV show, or movie. Gena and Finn perfectly capture the dynamics of fangirls whose devotion to their favorite show, UP BELOW, lends meaning to their everyday lives in a way that might look, well, a little deranged, to those who have never experienced fandom. No wonder 22-year-old Finn is afraid to tell her live-in boyfriend just how much fanart she has drawn, or how close she has gotten to 18-year-old fanfiction writer Gena through their online chats and emails. The question of what exactly their relationship is provides an source of drama – until Gena suffers a tragedy that renders labels moot and makes it clear that Finn will be there for her no matter what.
GENA/FINN is out now.