Friday, March 18, 2016

Blog tour: Gena/Finn

Hi all! Welcome to one of today's stops on the final day of the Gena/Finn blog tour! I'm so happy to be part of the blog tour, I love books by Hannah (they always punch you smack in the heart), and I was excited for this one with her friend Kat and reading about fandom and life and problems and how everything can intersect. Thanks so much to Raincoast Books and to Hannah and Kat for answering my question. :)
Gena/Finn certainly highlights how some internet friendships start, two people who have a shared interest in something coming together and talking about it before moving onto other things. Like Gena heading off to college and her meds and her hallucinations. Like Finn struggling to find work and figuring out her relationship with Charlie. In the beginning they barely know each other, but they still share some personal details. Do you think this is what internet friendships give us, a space to share some of the things we can't with those close to us? Is it the weird filter the Internet provides, the ability to have the sounding board qualities of a person but not be an actual person? The separation from not talking face-to-face?

KAT: Something Finn comes to realize early on in the book is that the people you meet online actually are real people. I think Charlie feels that his online friends, the members of his guild, are just faceless names, but Gena and Finn are waking up to the fact that the person in the computer is incredibly human and important. And, in fact, they find it really hard to maintain a separation. So I would say the internet can provide that filter for some people in some cases, but I don't think that's definitive of online friendships.

HANNAH: I don't think Gena ever had to wake up to that, actually. She has some of the same experiences I do--she's been in fandom for a long time, she went to a small school and thus is very good at deep conversations and very bad at small talk--so for her opening up has always been really natural.

Title: Gena/Finn
Authors: Hannah Moskowitz & Kat Helgeson
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Chronicle Books

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 is honest and heart-wrenching, so telling about the relationships we have with others and the different things we share with different people. This reads almost like an homage to fandom, to the friendships we make with people we only know across the vast distance that is the Internet, because sometimes those friendships end up defining us. For better or for worse, or somewhere in between.

Gena is bright and excited, pushing hard to make it out of her boarding school and off to college in the fall. She's looking forward to the new start while spending her downtime writing fanfics about her current interest, the cop show Up Below. It's great expanding on scenes and imagining what might've happened or (according to some fans) what should've happened. Finn is fresh out of college and floundering a bit. Now that's off in California with her boyfriend Charlie, she's struggling to find a decent job and sound happy in the e-mails to her parents. The only thing she has that cheers her up is Up Below and the little corner she's carved out for herself in its fandom. It's like they needed each other when they first met online. They needed someone to talk to, to talk out ideas, to share personal things that they wouldn't dare tell those close to them.

So much of this book is about fandom, about being a fan and sharing thoughts and ideas with other fans. About meeting people who feel the same way and slowly sharing other things with them. It shows the ups and downs of fandom, the fanfic writers and artists, the ones who are obsessed with certain characters, the ones who go to conventions to meet the actors and cosplay. The ones who hide themselves in fandom to avoid their 'real lives.' Some people need this escape, this time away from work or school or family in order to express themselves.

There's also a lot to be said about friendship and relationships in this book. The differences between the-person and online ones, the things we hide from those we're close to and the things we freely share with near-strangers on the Internet. How do we define these relationships? Can we? Clearly we need them, clearly Finn and Gena need them. Different people do different things for us, support us in different ways. They let us share or create, yell or cry or party. As multi-faceted as we can be, so are the relationships we have.

This book definitely doesn't hide that behind fandom, behind cheery letters to family and friends behind stories and art, there are people looking for a way to escape real life. That sometimes things get too hard, get too serious, and we're so afraid to ask for help, to admit defeat, that we retreat into something that makes us happy. That sometimes it's the connections we make with people we barely know that make us the strongest or the safest we've ever been. A definite must-read for those looking for books about friendships, relationships, fandom, and how they shape our lives.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)

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