CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 40. . . .June 17, 2016
Liv Walden is a college freshman who is an active fanfiction writer infatuated with the Starveil franchise because it was an interest that she and her late father shared. In high school, she almost failed her senior year because she was so consumed with writing fanfiction and participating in the Starveil fandom sites. Now, entering her first year of college, Liv has promised her mother that she’s focussed on her studies, but when Liv’s favourite actor, Matt Spartan, is apparently killed off in what is to be the final Starveil movie, Liv cannot accept that the story has ended. Forced to choose between doing what her mother wants and doing what she, herself, needs, Liv makes plans to resurrect Matt Spartan and continue Starveil the only way she knows how - online. With the help of her close friend, Zander, who has no interest in Starveil and who clearly moves to his own beat, Liv finds more than she bargained for from her writing and from Zander.
Not wanting to let Starveil go, Liv hatches a plan to anonymously create an alternate ending by crowd-sourcing other endings to the movie on her fandom site with the tag: #SpartanSurvived. In her first post, Starveil fan-writers are “Called to Arms”, challenged to explain Spartan’s missing in action designation. Creating ‘vids’ with Zander and secretly posting them, Liv’s online campaign takes off, even attracting the attention of the Starveil franchise owner, Mike R. Miles, who is slated to make an important announcement about Starveil at DragonCon. Excited for the announcement, Liv, Zander and friends travel to DragonCon, where the true impact of Liv’s #SpartanSurvived and her growing closeness with Zander are realized.
In All the Feels, Danika Stone creates interesting characters that reflect some of today’s online realities. Alternate worlds created through fandom bring together disparate individuals amplifying how immersion in a fictional world can affect real life. Liv Walden is a believable character who struggles with many teenage problems, including he mother’s disapproval of her fanfiction involvement, dealing with her mother’s boyfriend, the loss of her father, figuring out what she wants to do with her life and negotiating her relationship with Zander, a relationship which moves from friendship to much more by the close of the novel. Though Liv is presented as ridiculously immersed in Starveil at the beginning of the story (to the point where her fascination is almost debilitating), she is able to develop a healthier and more realistic approach to her love of Matt Spartan as a character and not a real person and the concept of fanfiction as a whole.
The secondary character of Zander is consistently written throughout the novel. His contemporary persona that flourishes a Victorian era sensibility does take some getting used to, but his commitment to Liv is solid from the start. Zander is unlike any other character in the novel. His speech and dress reflect his Victorian era sensibilities, and the growing affection between him and Liv adds an incredible amount of suspense that benefits the novel as a whole.
The multi-texts forms included in the novel add to the overall online feel. Phone text conversations in text bubbles, emoticons and images are included throughout the text providing the reader multiple entry points to the tech-savy teenagers’ world. The novel is appropriately written in two parts as the first part sets the stage for the climax and resolution that take place in part two. Though at first the novel seems lengthy, the growth in Liv’s character from an apparent fandom absorbed teenager to a more circumspect young adult warrants the longer explanation. Readers looking for insight into the world of fandom, young love and self-realization will not be disappointed with Stone’s All the Feels.
Penta Ledger is a teacher-librarian at Gravenhurst High School in Gravenhurst, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.