Hey everyone. Firday I did a joint post on Run by Kody Keplinger and Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson. Here is my full-length review for Gena/Finn.
Author: Hannah Moskowitz, Kat Helgeson
Published: May 17th, 2016 (Chronicle Books)
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Themes: Friendship, Relationships, LGBTQIA+, Mental Illness, Fanfiction, Social Media,
Source: I was provided an eARC via Chronicle Books on Netgalley,this in no way affects my review.
Rating: Four Stars
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.
Cover Thoughts: This had a cover change, but while I said I liked the old cover more, I think I may actually like this a smidge more with it’s contrasting colors and more details with the internet era.
~Why I Wanted To Read~
I wanted to read Gena/Finn because it’s about fanfiction and online communities. Those are two topics that will make me read any book basically.
~Impact On Me~
I related to a lot of the things discussed in this book, primarily the relationship between the main characters, Gena and Finn. It made me almost die with a lot of feels. I did highlight a ton of passages where I was just like “YES. I KNOW WHAT THAT’S LIKE.”
First Line: Are you kidding me…?
Okay, what the shit was that episode?
By now, you already know, but if a book involves fanfiction or a writer of fanfiction, I will eat it up. This is exactly what I did with Gena/Finn. I related to this book a ton and actually, it reminded me of a couple website (a few websites, but namely two) I used to get on quite a bit called Quizilla and Mibba. Quizilla has since been bought out (tears), but Mibba’s still around! Anyway, both of these websites are really big with fanfiction. I loved how Gena/Finn incorporated blogging in the story along with fanfiction.
Blogging, because I am a blogger, of course, but also because I could just picture the blog posts unfolding on there. Fanfiction, because I used to read Fanfiction. I will admit that I wasn’t always into all of the fanfiction in the story, but I did really love the last one. Gena/Finn did fanfiction how I wished Fangirl had. I liked how there was an on-going communication with the online community, it wasn’t just a “I’m going to write stories, you’re going to read them.” kind of thing. It was even completed with annoying characters that you encounter online and may possibly even gossip about among friends.
It. Was. Just. So. Realistic!
Realistic will my word of the post.
Gena is the fanfiction writer of the story whereas Finn tends to write blog posts and draws. I loved the two different creative arts that these characters did.
The other part that I really liked in Gena/Finn was that both characters didn’t live at home. This can annoy me, but with the way it was done, it just felt so realistic to me. Gena was away at boarding school. Finn on the other hand was actually in college, but living with a boyfriend in an apartment. While I didn’t get a big sense of the classes, it gave me a strong vibe of being at college again. So there were definite points for nostalgia there. I loved seeing how the character dealt with being away from parents and how they dealt with their parents, namely Finn.
You may be wondering what the fanfiction written is about, it’s about a TV show called Up Below. Up Below revolves around two friends, it’s a very Supernatural-esque show. There’s a part in here where one of the characters talks about how tv raised them and they mention Boy Meets World AND Degrassi. As you can imagine, my heart exploded because those are my two of my favorite shows EVER. EVER. DEGRASSI ❤ I just really really really loved that part a lot. Okay, back to the review now.
I just really need a moment because all of the blog posts about this show just hit me so hard. I get SO into the shows I watch. Like, an unbelievable amount* In an early post, there’s this quote about how the watchers didn’t see certain scenes, how unrealistic some scenes were and how it’s not good to tear shows down. I’m sure everyone has done this with a show. I have done this with SO many shows, I still do. It’s just a compulsion, we want things done how we want them. When they’re not, we (fans) can get incredibly passionate and incredibly angry, so I found a bit of this really hard-hitting.
Now that I’ve got that out of the way, what completely pulled me into this story is how these Gena and Finn met. One of them had just written a story and the other read it and messaged them. Just like that, they hit it off and began messaging back and forth totally getting each other. I loved it so much. It gave me more nostalgia. This was just a big somewhat nostalgic book for me, I liked that part.
Look, read these passages and tell me you don’t feel that.
“…That was heavy. I mean, it’s fine, but is it weird that this is getting so personal? I don’t know. I don’t make internet friends…”
“You’ve never made internet friends, though? I’ve got like ten people who know that shit about me, and most of them aren’t ones I know in real life. I don’t know, I’m not exactly close to anyone, but it feels pretty safe to open up to people when it’s just words. and i’m not usually afraid of alienating people because I’m an independent women, etc. I’m good.”
Okay, maybe you don’t feel that, I do though, so I’m silently screaming because feelings.
I really liked how the girls because close friends in a short span of time, because that can happen with people. Their friendship was just so heartwarming and I loved how they could depend on eachother. I made note of this in my other Gena/Finn post, but I loved how they understood eachother when people in their real lives didn’t. Whether this was in regards to fanfiction, the online community, their general feelings or real life struggles. And there were a quite a few real life struggles. Struggles like living with a significant other, contemplating marriage, liking two different people at the same time, finding a job and mental illness. I liked it a lot. They connected with eachother at a time when they would both need it. What I love most is that this the majority happens over the internet and I loved how it delved into real life.This brings me to the next thing:
Gena and Finn go to a convention and it is great. I wish there had been more details about it, because it didn’t really delve into it. This is also when things begin to shift in the story, quite greatly. Especially with genre and between characters. The girls get a lot closer to each other and it begins to alarm Finn’s boyfriend, Charlie. Charlie feels that the Gena and Finn may have feelings for each other. This causes relationship problems between him and Finn. While these relationship issues are a little intense, I loved seeing a couple actually have to go through issues. I loved reading about a couple that has their issues and it causes fights because that’s real. I didn’t always like Charlie, but I knew where he was coming from. Finn definitely annoyed me at times, but I loved her as well.
Back to Gena and Finn’s possible feelings for each other.
As for the genre switch, now that I think about it, it reminds me a lot about TV. You watch tv and everything’s great and you’re loving it, it’s exactly what you’re expecting and then an episode happens and you’re like, “What is this?”. Cue Demons from The 100. Am I right?
Actually, it reminds me of the last season of Boy Meets World, if you’ve watched that show (as Gena has), you may have noticed the huge genre switch in it. In the beginning it was very light hearted and then towards the end, while there were still a lot of light heartedness, it definitely went off the deep in in dramatics.
This was where Gena/Finn lost me a bit, while I loved the change in genre, it was very sudden. I didn’t feel like it was expanded on enough, but then again, that just relates back to a passage before in the book. I wish we had gotten more details about things. I wanted more conversations between a few people. This was pretty much the only thing I didn’t love in Gena/Finn. Everything else was great, the characters, the plot, the various issues.
There is a bit of group therapy done in here which I liked a lot. We only read from the character’s point of view and don’t experience many actual sessions, but it was interesting to read about.
A thing that I especially liked was the format of the book. I was reading an eARC, so I didn’t get the full affect, but there are Fanfics, blog posts, text messages, story comments, journal writings, and poetry in here. I liked seeing so many different aspects in it.
One thing I haven’t touched on yet:
Gena deals with a mental illness that I don’t believe is mentioned by name exactly, but I could be wrong. I liked seeing a character have a mental illness that didn’t rule her life, but it was mentioned in the day to day life. I do wish it had been talked about a lot more vividly because I didn’t exactly understand what she was diagnosed with or the medication she was taking. Speaking of which, that brought up a little part in the story where Gena has to worry about paying for her meeds. Once again, so realistic. Meds can be so expensive.
Some Things I Did Not Like:
Although I really liked Gena/Finn, there were some things I didn’t care too much for.
The girls relationships were really complicated to me and I never really understood what was going on. However, I do like that it was messy because feelings aren’t always clear cut.
I felt like Charlie did a 180 in part of the book which just left me wonder “What just happened?”. It seemed to be a really drastic change that I wasn’t super into. I would have known exactly what changed him because i did not understand.
There’s also a somewhat change of scenery for Gena later in Gena/Finn which I just didn’t find very realistic. I didn’t think it would go down like that, I don’t even think it’s really allowed what happened.
There was at least one definite convenient moment that was only used for plot purposes and I was like “What? No, really, what?” It was so bizarre to me.
I do like that we hear about Gena and Finn’s parents throughout the book, but Gena’s seemed really out of touch. Literally. There was a time I felt like they would want to contact Gena, and as far as I remember, they didn’t, but other relatives did. It was still short lived though. I didn’t like this section at all. There should have been a lot more concern and hesitance than I saw portrayed.
The two perspectives of Gena and Finn were done so well, I thought they blended together good. I loved the writing of both of them, so the authors did a fantastic job there. Gena and Finn both had distinct personalities. If you like female friendships, online communities, Fanfiction and complicated relationships, Gena/Finn is for you. I really liked Gena/Finn overall despite some things I didn’t like or understand. I loved the natural friendship of the girls and their interactions with each other. I enjoyed reading about how they didn’t live at home because for once an absence of parents made some sense. This book is full of emotional feels for sure.
~Do I Recommend?~
~Who Do I Recommend It To?~
- Fans of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowelll
- Fans of Fanfiction or online related books
- Fans of strong female friendships
- Fans of complicated relationships
~Would I Buy It?~
~Would I Re-Read It?~