Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston
Genre(s): YA, Romance, Contemporary, Retelling
Published: August 4, 2020
Publisher: Quirk Books
“Sometimes the universe deals us fates that make us happy, but sometimes it simply deals us fates that make us.”
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Rosie Thorne is feeling stuck—on her college application essays, in her small town, and on that mysterious General Sond cosplayer she met at ExcelsiCon. Most of all, she’s stuck in her grief over her mother’s death. Her only solace was her late mother’s library of rare Starfield novels, but even that disappeared when they sold it to pay off hospital bills.
On the other hand, Vance Reigns has been Hollywood royalty for as long as he can remember—with all the privilege and scrutiny that entails. When a tabloid scandal catches up to him, he’s forced to hide out somewhere the paparazzi would never expect to find him: Small Town USA. At least there’s a library in the house. Too bad he doesn’t read.
When Rosie and Vance’s paths collide and a rare book is accidentally destroyed, Rosie finds herself working to repay the debt. And while most Starfield superfans would jump at the chance to work in close proximity to the Vance Reigns, Rosie has discovered something about Vance: he’s a jerk, and she can’t stand him. The feeling is mutual.
But as Vance and Rosie begrudgingly get to know each other, their careful masks come off—and they may just find that there’s more risk in shutting each other out than in opening their hearts.
“Don’t go falling in love with a library now. Especially one you can’t own.”
“Can’t I fall in love just a little? At least books won’t break my heart.”
I forgot this book came out, but when I saw it propped up on the “new” shelf at my library during my last visit, of course I had to get it! I love Beauty and the Beast, and even though I haven’t had the best of luck with retellings lately, I adore Geekerella, so I just knew I would love this one.
Let’s start with what I did actually like.
- Sansa! Can’t go wrong when a dog shows up every other chapter.
- The way the different parts were laid out, and proceeded with a little bit of The Starless Throne.
- The (not-so) subtle Disney Beauty and the Beast references. They were honestly more of a comic relief for me, but I loved it. Example: “I don’t know half of the architectural jargon, but it’s pretty, and at least – unlike most of the houses around here – it doesn’t use antlers in all of the decorating.”
- Rosie’s relationship with her dad, as well as her journey of grief.
- Rosie’s friendship with Quinn and Annie. Both would do anything for Rosie.
- The con scene! You know, the single one we actually get.
- Imogen was the only character I really liked. Which is sad considering I didn’t even read The Princess and the Fangirl, which is where I assume most of her character development is.
- The reading scenes, and how Vance’s feelings of books change over time.
- The setting. I hate that it wasn’t a con, but I did enjoy the descriptions and feel of North Carolina.
All in all, the book had a lot going for it. There was so much potential. I tried. I really did. I wanted to like this story so bad. And even though it warranted a few laughs near the end, it wasn’t enough for me.
Vance Reigns was a complete jerk… until he wasn’t. But then he really was. Let me tell you, I love the whole ” girl falls for the bad boy” trope. This ain’t it. Vance isn’t a bad boy. He’s a rude, condescending jerk who doesn’t care. And the moment he does start to care, the romance is automatically rushed until oh no! Here comes the idiot character acting in Gaston’s place to ruin everything and prove just how much of a selfish jerk Vance truly is and destroy any potential character development. I know many people saw Vance’s redemption arc as something amazing, but I just… couldn’t.
Don’t even get me started on Garret Taylor. The more Beauty and the Beast retellings I read, the more I hate any character remotely resembling Gaston. I never will understand how the retelling Gaston characters are always so much worse than both Disney movie Gastons. Every time Garret came on page, I just wanted to skip to where he wasn’t. So much cringe.
Rosie Thorne (I know, great use of the symbolic rose, right? ) is an immature, insecure brat. She has a decent job that is helping her save up for college, and yet… she gets upset because she rightfully got in trouble on her job? More than once? Girl, if my manager(s) even saw a glimpse of a phone at my last job and/or saw we were blatantly not working while on the clock, they would have written us up immediately. That’s how a job works. You have absolutely ZERO right to complain about that. This immediately made me hate her, bookworm or not. Not just that, but her inability to believe in herself was ridiculous. I lack confidence, 100%. But could you not for a single second even fathom the idea that maybe it wasn’t your fault that Vance didn’t tell you who he was? Anyway, he’s a jerk the entirety of your visit(s) up to that point. What more explanation did you need?
There was so much going on in the book that just didn’t do it for me.
Where was the beautiful con scenes? It comes up a couple of time, but that’s one of the reasons I love Geekerella. Because we got to see the con and the meet-cute, and with Bookish and the Beast, we barely get anything except the bare bones of their first meeting, sprinkled in different chapters. I want to know what they did all night. How they got split up in the morning. The secrets that they shared with one another. This was probably my biggest disappointment for this one: the fact that it didn’t take place at Con.
My second biggest disappointment: At no point did I ever feel like Vance and Rosie should be together. The entirety of the ending just made it worse for me too.
Also, what was up with Dare and Elle? None of that was ever actually explained. To tell the truth, I didn’t really understand the lack of communication between Dare and Vance either, nor did I ever really understand the real reason Vance was sent to North Carolina. (Yes, I understand the whole accident thing, but the connections between what really happened and the response just didn’t add up.)
So. Many. Pop. Culture. References.
And can we just mention how the random side romance that Poston decided to throw into the plot while we were waiting for Rosie and Vance to fall in love… just got thrown to the side and forgotten?
Okay, so this book wasn’t terrible. I guess I just had my expectations set way too high for this one. I managed to read it pretty quickly, but I thought it would be cuter and more original and more con-based. However, there were a handful of cute moments spread throughout, and a decent story on the handling of grief.
If you’ve like the previous Once Upon a Con books, or you enjoy Beauty and the Beast retellings, I would still say to give this one a try. I’ve seen many people who do enjoy Vance and Rosie, as well as the abundance of diversity in the book, so if you’re able to get into the first few chapters, you might enjoy it!