College freshman Liv is more than just a fangirl: The Starveil movies are her life… So, when her favorite character, Captain Matt Spartan, is killed off at the end of the last movie, Liv Just. Can’t. Deal.
Tired of sitting in her room sobbing, Liv decides to launch an online campaign to bring her beloved hero back to life. With the help of her best friend, Xander, actor and steampunk cosplayer extraordinaire, she creates #SpartanSurvived, a campaign to ignite the fandom. But as her online life succeeds beyond her wildest dreams, Liv is forced to balance that with the pressures of school, her mother’s disapproval, and her (mostly nonexistent and entirely traumatic) romantic life. A trip to DragonCon with Xander might be exactly what she needs to figure out what she really wants.
All the Feels is the adorable story of socially awkward Liv and her love of the scifi franchise, Starveil. I had a hard time understanding her devotion to this movie and the death of the main character until I put myself squarely in her shoes and imagined Starveil as Star Wars and Spartan as Han Solo. But even that didn’t quite do it. I had to go to television, something that I watch weekly, or in the case of Netflix, daily, and the death of a major character, and then I got it. My teen daughter is really into her fandoms and the death of a popular character on The 100 made the internet implode, not to mention all the hype surrounding nearly every death on Game of Thrones. Just say the words Red Wedding and you’re bound to bring one of your friends to tears. And any fan of Doctor Who can be eviscerated with the simple word, Doomsday.
All the Feels is about one of these super fans who is devoted to her franchise and it’s star. So when his character is killed off in the latest movie, she’s initially in shock, then in mourning. As she travels through the stages of grief, she reaches anger and decides to do something about it. With her best friend, a steampunk cosplayer named Xander, she stages a campaign to bring Spartan back by pretending he was never killed in the first place. Liv’s crusade garners both fans and detractors and complicates her relationship with Xander, but when they head off to Dragon-Con in Atlanta, anything is possible.
The plot was two-fold — saving Spartan and an underlying romance between Liv and Xander. It’s obvious from the start these two belong together, but Xander has a perfect girlfriend and confidence in spades while Liv has difficulty expressing her emotions, seemingly happier communicating online than in person. The story started off slower than I’d hoped, and it took me at least half of the book to really get into it. I think part of it is I wasn’t invested in her goal of saving Starveil until I could empathize with her. The other reason is the relationship between Liv and Xander doesn’t really heat up until late in the book.
As an extrovert to the nth degree, I had a hard time warming up to introvert Liv, but once I did, I absolutely adored her. Xander took me a bit longer. He’s an odd duck and not your usual romance hero. But once I figured out what he was all about, I appreciated his quirkiness and his undying loyalty to his friend, Liv. Liv is pretty well fleshed out, but I never got a complete sense of why Xander is the way he is. He’s confident, socially skilled, but he lives in a world of cosplay rather than escaping to it, which didn’t seem to fit the typical cosplayer. But then again, Xander seems to defy all stereotypes. The rest of the characters are there to serve a purpose, but there isn’t much to them.
The writing is fantastic. I love the author’s voice. Her metaphors and similes were fresh and unique, and the dialogue is witty and age-appropriate.
What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The pacing was slow in the beginning.
2. The other characters lacked depth to help me really understand why they were the way they were, particularly Liv’s mom’s boyfriend and Joe, the middle-aged Starveil superfan.
Top Five Things I Enjoyed About All the Feels
1. Xander’s bisexuality. This is an underrepresented demographic in all fiction, but particularly in young adult, and he’s anything but stereotypical.
2. The writing. I found the author’s voice to be fresh, young, and lively.
3. Con. As a big Comic-Con fan, I loved this whole aspect of the story. Even though I live like twenty minutes from the convention center in San Diego, I have never been able to score passes, although I try every year. It doesn’t stop me from going downtown and participating in activities and panels outside the convention center itself, but I adored the insiders look at the actual Con experience.
4. Fandoms. My daughter is big into the whole fandom thing, so I wasn’t surprised to see the devotion, the online hysteria, and nearly obsessive nature of that kind of devotion, even if I had a hard time understanding it at first.
5. Liv and Xander. They are adorable together.
All the Feels is super sweet for a new adult romance, and for that reason alone, it’s refreshing!
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book
Title: All the Feels
Author: Danika Stone
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Category: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
About the Author
Danika Stone is an author, artist, and educator who discovered a passion for writing fiction while in the throes of her Masters thesis. A self-declared bibliophile, Danika now writes novels for both adults (The Intaglio Series and Ctrl Z) and teens (Icarus and All the Feels). When not writing, Danika can be found hiking in the Rockies, planning grand adventures, and spending far too much time online. She lives with her husband, three sons, and a houseful of imaginary characters in a windy corner of Alberta, Canada.
The first book in Danika’s upcoming Tathagata series (Edge of Wild) was selected as a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award (2013). Edge of Wild (Stonehouse CA) will be released March 2016. Danika’s YA novel, All the Feels (Macmillan US), will be released June 2016.
Ms. Stone is represented by Morty Mint of Mint Literary Agency.
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