Buy Gena / Finn
Special price $15.34 Regular price: $17.99 ($24.99 CDN)
Publisher: Chronicle Books / Raincoast Books
Reviewer: Melissa on March 17, 2016
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Gena / Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson 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 very little in common. Book-smart Gena is getting ready to leave her post boarding school to start college; down-to-earth Finn is a twenty-something struggling to make ends meet in the big city. While Gena’s romantic life consists of a series of one-night-stands, Finn is trying to make a go of it with her long-term boyfriend Charlie. But they do have one thing in common: a passion for Up Below, a buddy cop TV show with a cult fan following. Gena is a darling of the Up Below fangirl scene who runs a popular blog on Tumblr and writes fan fiction. By contrast, Finn keeps her online life a secret, even from Charlie. These girls spark an unlikely online friendship, which quickly deepens (so quickly it scares them both), and as their “real” lives begin falling apart, they seek shelter online…and with each other.
If you read my blog regularly, then you know that when I pick up a book, even one of the ones that I’ve highly anticipating like Gena / Finn, I try to avoid re-reading the synopsis first. I want to, wherever possible, dive into the books I pick up with a fresh outlook. For that reason, I’m not surprised that it took me a little while to get what the fandom that Gena and Finn love was about, however, once I got it figured out, it was impossible to put down this story. I found myself reading late into the night and early in the morning transfixed by the characters, the situations that they find themselves in, and the community in which they are a part.
For me, one of the best things about this book is the idea that online friendships can be and are real, and that getting involved in online communities, especially those that you meet through a fandom, can enrich your life. I particularly liked the fact that these two female characters were there for each other, through everything, even when it meant potentially sacrificing things in their “real” lives. Gena didn’t have anyone except for Finn, and Finn had people she cared about, but no one who really understood her fascination with Up Below. Even though the circumstances are different, it reminded me of all the people who I’ve met through the book blogging community, some of whom have become great friends and confidants of mine. While none of my online friendships are as deep as the ones that Gena and Finn share, it felt great to read about a world and characters who believe in the possibility of real, online connections.
That’s not to say that there aren’t negative consequences to the relationship that Gena and Finn start with one another. Because anyone who has read Gena/Finn knows it is, in equal turns, beautiful and heartbreaking. There were moments in the story which made me feel inspired. While other moments made me scream, “Noooo!” at the book (and the authors indirectly). But no matter what was happening in the story, there were all kinds of feels.
I could be wrong, but I believe that the fandom that Hannah and Kat created with Jake and Tyler was loosely based on Supernatural. While there isn’t anything…supernatural…about Up Below, the concept of two main male characters, who are part of a huge fandom that is biased toward one character over the other? Yeah, it’s a parallel at least.
Whether you’re part of one or multiple fandoms, whether you write, read, or steer clear of fanfic, you have to give this one a try. Seriously. Moreover, like my fave book by Hannah Moskowitz, Gone, Gone, Gone, there is a big emotional aspect to Gena / Finn. If you want a punch in the feels, then you don’t want to miss this unique, contemporary YA novel.
Interview with Hannah Moskowitz & Kat Helgeson
YA Book Shelf: Knowing the good and bad parts of being part of the Up Below fandom, do you think that
they would still get so involved with it if they had to do it all over again?
Kat Helgeson: Absolutely. No question. I would say the bad things that happened to Gena and Finn
weren’t as a result of their involvement with fandom, but rather, other choices they
Hannah Moskowitz: Yeah, of course.
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