I don’t really read modern romance novels, but I do read romantic fanfiction. I read this novel mainly because it was based on a fanfic from a ship and fandom that I was familiar with. Even better, a friend of mine wanted to read this book too so we did it as a mini read along.
If I had read this novel objectively and not known it was fanfic, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much. There were a lot of cheesey and romcomy moments which did not work for me. The characters lacked development. I did not really see the depth of their characters without the fanfic lenses. We don’t really get to know the male lead Adam Carsen. The author made the female lead Olive a Canadian from Toronto. There were a couple of things that were off because I am from Ontario. Mainly that Olive claims to be emancipated but there is not an emancipation law in Ontario. I also found it a real stretch that she didn’t know what Ultimate Frisbee was. She seemed science smart but not exactly clever about other things. I never actually bought their meet cute either since how could she not recognize him?
I read the original fanfic this was based on after I finished the novel. It was shorter, smuttier, and less cheesey. The meet cute was not in the fanfic. The novel has its cute moments but without the fanfic element, I don’t think I would have really liked it. I may read her upcoming novels knowing that at least one other one or two is based on her fanfic.
The lack of character development in the novel does not bother as much in fanfic because I could slot in what the characters looked and acted like. I could already picture the characters. This novel’s cover leans heavily into this. This novel came into my life when I was overdue for a dip back into fanfiction.
Read March 11-15, 2022 in ebook.
Disclaimer: The rest of this post will be a discussion of fanfic in general and my history with it.
I’ve been reading fanfic for almost 25 years since I was a preteen basically. I read a lot less of it now as an adult. I go back to it every few years. I don’t read from just the same fandom and rather have read fanfics from many. Some fandoms I don’t go back to and others I go back in and out.
For me, fanfic scratches an itch because I tend to go back to it when thinking about how things ended (usually very badly) for my favourite characters and relationships. I usually do not read fanfic if the creators of the TV, movie, or book ended things to my satisfaction. It’s like playing a game with others who feel the same way. Fanfic creates the void the original authors couldn’t fill for fans. There can be a big sense of community but I have not been active in any fandom for decades.
The variety and diversity in fanfic and fan art is incredible. Fanfic is experimental by nature. It can darker, angstier, and way less mainstream. It can also be fluffier, funnier, and more “crack”. I’ve read lots of hilarious takes on the characters which aren’t suppose to be serious, but a good way to relieve the stress of what the canon is.
The rules for good fanfic aren’t the same as a novel either for me personally. In normal books, I need a lot of character work and development. In fanfic, I often don’t need as much. The author does have to either be true to the characters in some way (which is difficult) or creates twists on the character which serve the story in some way but not sacrifice the core. I appreciate the drive to be more creative and enjoy reading retellings of the original work through certain characters or certain angles. I find myself more forgiving about certain plot elements. I accept the contrite and slap dash more if there is something else that scratches the itch.
There is a lot of bad fanfic out there as well and it’s hard to find good ones which meets my criteria. I have my limits as well. I don’t really like original character fictional including Reader self insert fics. Slash has never done much for me but understand how diverse that part of fandoms are. I also cannot read Real Life Pairings fic. It’s too invasive.
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reading more fanfic than actual books. It’s also made me oddly nostalgic for a time when I read a lot of fanfic. Back in the days when I was a high schooler without adult life responsibilities. It also reminds me that fanfic and fandom have served me in times when I was bored or depressed. They were great distractions then. They can sometimes fulfil me better than some movies or tv shows. The familiarity of going into an established world of characters and settings can be soothing and engaging at the same time.
Fanfic and fan works also come with controversy. One of the reasons that I am not active in fandoms anymore is the rampant drama and “wars” that I’ve witnessed. All I want to do is have fun with reading things. I do find it sad how like in life and in politics, people make it personal and try to ruin it for others. Fandom should never involve harassment, trolling, attacks, doxxing. or worse, but I’ve seen when it often has in fandoms. Sadly, the internet is a scary place.
I definitely think fanfiction and fanart overall is a good way to engage with something that people care about or that elicit feelings in them. Fanfic is still not mainstream in the sense that I do not know many people who actually claim to read it. If I had someone to talk to about this, I probably would not have wrote this blog post. I can’t deny that it has been a part of my life. While I do not read it as much or as frequently nowadays, I still find myself going back to it every few years. That’s the beauty of fan works, there will likely be others who share your feelings about shared art and you can feel more connected through creativity.