Gena/Finn (ARC Review)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary
Page Length: 345 pages
Format: ARC received from a friend
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Chronicle Books

Although I received a free copy of this book, my opinion of it is completely my own.

About Gena/Finn (via Goodreads):

The story follows the unlikely friendship of two young women forged via fan fiction and message boards, and is told entirely in texts, chats, and blog posts.

Gena (short for Genevieve) and Finn (short for Stephanie) have little in common. Book-smart Gena is preparing to leave her posh boarding school for college; down-to-earth Finn is a twenty-something struggling to make ends meet in the big city. Gena’s romantic life is a series of reluctant one-night-stands; Finn is making a go of it with long-term boyfriend Charlie. But they share a passion for Up Below, a buddy cop TV show with a cult fan following. Gena is a darling of the fangirl scene, keeping a popular blog and writing fan fiction. Finn’s online life is a secret, even from Charlie. The pair spark an unlikely online friendship that deepens quickly (so quickly it scares them both), and as their individual “real” lives begin to fall apart, they increasingly seek shelter online, and with each other.
Gena/Finn was a wonderfully raw, emotional, and relatable book. I have to admit that I was expecting a more light-hearted read, despite the struggles the characters seemed to face, but I was completely wrong. At the beginning, I was cracking up a lot at the wit and hilarious interactions between the girls in the online community, but later the book takes a more serious turn. I don't want to give anything away, but I was definitely heartbroken by the end, and I was hardcore crying like a baby. There were just SO MANY FEELS.

I know people seem to complain that "relatable" is not the best word to describe things, least of all books, but the book seriously was relatable. The characters were fangirls, and as a blogger and fangirl myself, it was great being able to connect with the characters and form a mutual interest so early on in the story. Even though I've never seen the fictional TV show (Up Below) that the characters rave about, I still felt myself cheering, fangirling, and flailing so hardas fangirls doalong with Gena and Finn.

In addition to connecting with the characters in the fangirling sense, the friendships they formed and the obstacles they overcame paralleled some of my experiences and really struck a chord with me. Although I may not have lived through some of the horrors Gena and Finn go through, I experienced what they were feeling whole-heartedly while reading, and it was glorious and heart-wrenching all at once. I don't even know how to explain it. So few books manage to pull at my heartstrings, yet this one managed to do exactly that.

Even though I have read a similarly formatted book before, I was still a bit wary about reading a book told through different forms of media (emails, texts, letters, journal entries, fanfictions, message boards, etc.) Although I would not say it was executed perfectly, the flow of the story was still very well done and I could feel just as many emotions (if not more) reading in this book style as reading in the "normal" prose style. There was never a dull moment in the book, and I honestly could not put the book down—I finished it in 4 hours because it was so addicting! All in all, I was satisfied by the end and recognize its significance to the plot, but at the same time it was kind of abrupt and confused me at first. (I had to reread it a few times to realize why it ended the way it did.)

Ultimately, Gena/Finn really surprised me. It was both a fun and emotional read, and although there were a few minor issues, it was overall a lovely book.

Rating: 3.25 stars

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