The Con / Karri Justina Shea

  • Title: The Con
  • Author: Karri Justina Shea
  • Published: 2012
  • Page Number: 116
  • ISBN: 978-0-9880431-0-7
  • Format: Paperback / ebook

thecon

The first thing that Ren Coffey needs you to know is that she is nobody’s fangirl.

She agreed to play with wizard rock band Neville’s Toad at their crazy geek conference only because her cousin Whitney begged her to – and for the free trip to Florida. So when a chance encounter with wrocker-turned-movie star Teddy Hudson leads to an unusual proposal to help him stave off the more fervent of his rabid fans, she figures she can handle his supposed charm. What she doesn’t expect to find is how much she and Teddy actually have in common – and just how much their charade could cost her before it’s done.

Set in the unconventional world of fan conventions, The Con is a novella about music, friendship, and finding the courage to geek out to your heart’s content.

 I finished reading The Con in a few hours. The Con is Karri Justina Shea’s first full novel. It’s a short, easy read and the story flows along very nicely. Despite the length of the book, Shea manages to create full, well written characters and a proper plot, without making it feel rushed and incomplete.

The book is set in a fan convention and there are countless references to TV shows, books, movies, fan websites and more. While reading, it was refreshing to come across mentions of things I don’t normally talk about offline. The convention is described so realistically you can actually feel like you’re at it yourself! The characters participate in all sorts of activities, dress up, go to an evening ball, sing and dance and meet new friends. One of the greatest parts of conventions is meeting new people who share the same interests as you, and in the book this concept is a very strong one. The main characters show up at the convention, not knowing anyone else, but they soon befriend other convention visitors and spend the week with strangers that become their good friends.

The plot is a simple and yet very fun one. Ren, the protagonist, shows up at the convention just to help out her cousin Whitney’s band, which is missing a player. She doesn’t really count herself as “that kind of fan” that goes to conventions and so she’s worried that she won’t have anything to do. His story includes the” typical boy-girl meeting in some weird but funny circumstance” plot idea. However, unlike in many other stories, here Shea manages to integrate the happening very well into the storyline and it does not feel forced or wrong. Ren ends up befriending her cousin’s celebrity crush Teddy Hudson. They make a certain deal involving their friendship, which ends up going way off plans and putting them both in a problematic situation with themselves, each other, and their friends.

The writing is very good. It helps create the flowing feeling the entire book has, which is one of the reasons it’s so easy to read in one sitting. The entire plot takes place in one setting, with the same characters, during one week and so it’s nearly impossible not to get sucked up into the story and live out the entire convention with Ren and her friends. The plot is not a hard one to follow and the events all string together in a sensible, realistic way.

I enjoyed this book because I felt like I could really connect to the characters and the book. I have been to conventions before, albeit smaller ones than GeekyCon – the convention in the book, but Shea manages to create the exact feeling of being in a convention – the never planning but always running into fun things and fun people sort of thing that goes on in conventions. To me, a book’s characters are only as good as their ability to live on beyond the pages of their story. Whenever I finish a book, I tend to see if I can imagine the characters in situations not described and if I think I could predict how they would act without the author’s guidance. Even though the book is only about a third’s length of most average Young Adult books, Shea somehow manages to create characters that I truly think I understand and know. I don’t feel I need her writing to know what Ren would do in all kinds of situations I imagine. That, in my opinion is an author’s greatest achievement.

In summary, The Con is a short, simple, but very pleasant read. I highly recommend it to anyone who considers themselves a “fangirl,” because they’ll find it very easy to connect to the general mood of the book and they’ll get a kick out of all of the references. I look forward to seeing more of Shea’s work, including her new novel Bent that’s coming out this year! You can also check out Shea’s extensive collection of fanfiction and her famous “fanfiction novel” Learning To Dance – available for free download via her website. So, go on and get your copy of The Con today , and check out Karri Justina Shea and her writing here!

* I won this book as part of a giveaway, in which I also received a band shirt of one of the two main bands in the story – Ren’s band Neville’s Toad and Teddy Hudson’s band Accio Butterbeer. You can purchase these shirts too! For the Neville’s Toad print click here. For the Accio Butterbeer click here.

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