Review: Ship It by Britta Lundin
We all at one point have been a fan of something. There is this stereotype that fandoms are all screaming teenage girls — and maybe sometimes they are the loudest group — but I think that we can all relate to being obsessed with a particular TV show, book series, movie franchise, whatever it may be. In Ship It, Britta Lundin tackles the topic of fandom culture and how fandom plays a role in the life of a TV show and being a writer on the CW's Riverdale and reader/writer of fanfiction, I think this is a topic that she is very familiar with.
Ship It is a dual-perspective novel that follows sixteen-year-old Claire who is obsessed with a show called Demon Heart and Forest who is one of the lead actors on the show. Not only is Demon Heart her favourite show, Claire is also a very well-known fanfiction writer within the fandom and her OTP is Smokey and Heart played by Forest and his male co-star, Rico. When she finds out that Demon Heart is coming to a local convention, Claire is beyond excited, but after the Q&A goes downhill this creates a PR disaster for the show and Claire ends up travelling with the show on the rest of their convention tour.
As a member of many fandoms myself, I related to this story and how Claire desperately wanted her OTP to become canon. I really enjoyed seeing the passion that Claire had for Demon Heart and her excitement for her very first convention! It covered a lot of amazing topics like being unapologetically yourself, feminism and discovering your sexuality. I loved the convention setting and many of the side characters that added a great dynamic to Claire's journey. That being said, I think that some of the aspects of Claire's character that gives fangirls a bad name. We definitely shouldn't be shamed by others for liking what we like and shipping what we ship, however, there are some actions that Claire takes throughout that were selfish and a bit morally questionable.
In terms of the other characters in the story, anyone with a lot of time on the page (except Rico, Tess and other side characters that I loved) was a jerk. I also had issues tolerating Forest's POV chapters throughout, especially in the first half of the book. I understand that he is going on his own character journey and coming to the realization about how some of the assumptions he has been making were problematic, but it didn't feel like there were enough nuggets of change throughout to show that he was learning.
Despite the overall jerkiness of some of the characters, I did enjoy reading this book. I didn't enjoy it as much as I did other books that dealt with fandoms, such as Fangirl or Geekerella. It was easy to get through and the romance between our two queer ladies was absolutely adorable (I ship them so much). It also brought up a lot of great conversations about sexuality and how you don't necessarily have to be 100% sure about how you I identify. Some people are and that's great for them, but that doesn't mean that you need to put a label on yourself when you're not ready or if you don't necessarily want one.
I also loved how supportive Claire's parents are of her being involved in fandom and wanting to go to the local convention to see Demon Heart. It reminded me very much of my parents when I first started wanting to go to conventions and make cosplays. I think that they were a great light of acceptance to have in this type of story where there are adults that are perpetuating the stereotype that fandom is crazy, anyone involved in a fandom is crazy.
I was inclined to give this book a lower rating that I ended up giving it when I was reading it, but the last few chapters, particularly the convention scene at the end, ended up redeeming it for me. If you've read the book, you know what I'm talking about. Overall I ended up giving Ship It 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
That's all for my non-spoiler-y thoughts, so if you haven't read Ship It, see you next time. But if you have read the book, let's talk spoilers!
Bye people who haven't read the book!
Hi there, people who've read the book!
I don’t know about you, but I think I may have gone into this book with higher expectations than I should have. I was just so excited for another fandom book, but this time with a queer romance! Unfortunately, I didn’t overly love this book while I was reading it and this hasn’t changed after having had time to think about it a bit more.
I do want to start with this really great moment that Claire has when she’s talking to Tess about her first fandom, which is extremely personal. I thought that the fact that she loved fic about the reporter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and how she spoke about it was a great portrayal of how important and how much of a positive impact fanfiction, or fandom more generally, can have on a person. Fandom and fanfiction has been their for me at many points in my life and this is something that I definitely related to.
That being said, I do need a little bit about two moments where Claire really takes it too far. I'm going to start with the one where I can kind of forgive her for because Jamie is the biggest jerk in this book, and that's when she kidnaps his Twitter account and threatens to start tweeting if he doesn't hear her out about SmokeHeart. Yes, if a showrunner is homophobic or doesn't put enough representation in their show, we as fans should give them crap for it on social media, but to blackmail them in order to try and get them to understand why your ship should be canon is a questionable way to go about it. I did enjoy seeing Jamie squirm because again I really didn't like him but in the end, it ultimately put him on the defensive, made him less understanding and caused Forest to lose his job as Smokey and kill off any future potential for SmokeHeart (maybe with a different showrunner).
Another thing that Claire did that I need to rant about is how she started writing fanfiction about Forest and Rice, not just their characters in Demon Heart. Don't get me wrong, I love fanfiction and have read a lot of fanfiction since being a part of fandoms, but writing fanfiction (in this case smutty fanfiction) about real people that you've met is crossing a line that I don't think Claire apologized enough for. She did apologize and deleted the fanfiction, but it didn't feel like she fully understood why you shouldn't write fanfiction about people you know until the last few pages of the book when she was already on much better terms with Forest.
As I mentioned in my non-spoiler-y section, I found Forest's POV very difficult to read, especially in the first act when he was reacting to the idea of Smokey being attracted to Heart. He does realize at the end of the book (at the very end) that once you've created a story (whether that be a TV show, book, movie, etc.) it is open to interpretation by the people who consume it. That being said, while Forest is a lot more understanding and accepting at the end of the book, I would have liked to have seen more development throughout.
Moving on to what I absolutely loved about this book, the romance between Claire and Tess. From when they first met and clicked over their love for Demon Heart I thought that they would be absolutely adorable together. A fanfiction writer and a fan artist — what could be more perfect! They both also come from situations where they don't have friends back home who share their love for Demon Heart and I was so happy for the both of them to finally have someone that they can gush about Demon Heart with. I definitely related more to Tess in the sense where I have sometimes felt embarrassed that I read fanfiction, shipped a particular ship or watched a particular TV show. Tess is also a good reality check for Claire because, while she also passionately ships Smokey and Heart, she has a different view on fandom, the role that it plays relative to the show and also how SmokeHeart being canon wouldn't fix the show's issues with representation due to the horrible lack of POC characters and women.
Overall, while there were aspects of the story that I wasn't a huge fan of, I still enjoyed reading this book and would read more books by this author.
What did you think of Ship It? I loved to hear what you think in the comments below.
Until next time, have a lovely rest of your day and read something awesome!