What: Ship It by Britta Lundin
Who: Hachette Book Group USA
When: June 26th 2018
How: A copy of this novel was provided by Hachette Australia for review.
CLAIRE is a sixteen-year-old fangirl obsessed with the show Demon Heart. FOREST is an actor on Demon Heart who dreams of bigger roles. When the two meet at a local Comic-Con panel, it’s a dream come true for Claire. Until the Q&A, that is, when Forest laughs off Claire’s assertion that his character is gay.
Claire is devastated. After all, every last word of her super-popular fanfic revolves around the romance between Forest’s character and his male frenemy. She can’t believe her hero turned out to be a closed-minded jerk. Forest is mostly confused that anyone would think his character is gay. Because he’s not. Definitely not.
Unfortunately for Demon Heart, when the video of the disastrous Q&A goes viral, the producers have a PR nightmare on their hands. In order to help bolster their image within the LGBTQ+ community-as well as with their fans-they hire Claire to join the cast for the rest of their publicity tour. What ensues is a series of colorful Comic-Con clashes between the fans and the show that lead Forest to question his assumptions about sexuality and help Claire come out of her shell. But how far will Claire go to make her ship canon? To what lengths will Forest go to stop her and protect his career? And will Claire ever get the guts to make a move on Tess, the very cute, extremely cool fanartist she keeps running into? Ship It is a funny, tender, and honest look at all the feels that come with being a fan.
1) How much Britta Lundin got fandom
I really like reading stories about characters with fandoms they’re passionate about because they hit very close to home. I have fandoms I’m passionate about, and ships I ship. And the way Lundin wrote about fandom and shipping… it was clear that it was something she understands. She wrote the feelings that come along with loving something so much, and wanting a ship to happen so bad incredibly well. I loved it.
2) The writing style
The writing style flowed very well, and I was able to devour about a hundred pages every time I sat down to read Ship It.
1) The ship
There was no way I could ever be on board with the ship in Ship It. Claire and Tess were, quite frankly, horrible to each other, and I would have preferred their romance to begin and end at the con, with both of them parting ways and realising that they weren’t good for each other. Because they weren’t. They didn’t hold each other or themselves accountable for their harmful actions, and even when they did apologise to one another it was half-assed and clear that they were doing it because they wanted an apology in return, as well.
Both girls harm each other in potentially irreparable ways, and I never felt like they actually understood that. Tess never understood that she outed Claire to her mum. Her mother could have been a raging queerphobe who kicked Claire out of the house for that. And did Tess ever really think of that? No. Did she take it for granted that Claire’s mum was actually okay with it? Hell yes.
And Claire. Claire told Tess’s friends that Tess was super into the show they both loved, even though Tess had told her that her friends wouldn’t understand. But then Claire just randomly told them because she thought that Tess shouldn’t be ashamed of the thing she loves. And sure, maybe she shouldn’t. But it wasn’t Claire’s decision to tell Tess’s friends. Did Claire think about the fact that Tess could lose her entire group of friends? No. Did she take it for granted that her friends were actually okay with it in the end? Hell yes. I really couldn’t get over these two instances of harm and lack of accountability on both ends. These girls are not good for each other, and I was in no way shipping it.
2) The shit Claire did
I totally understand wanting queer rep in the media, and I totally understand how much queerbaiting sucks to the end of time. But would I do the things Claire did in Ship It to try and make it happen? Ah, no. Claire really went over the top in the things she was willing to do to make her Destiel – sorry, SmokeHeart – ship happen. She waited outside the writer’s hotel room, she hacked the writer’s Twitter account, she wrote real life fic about the actors. She just did so many inappropriate things. And yet she thought they were the right things to do. I suppose she is only sixteen. But in this make believe story she actually had the opportunity to talk to people working on the show about queer rep. And she didn’t go about it in the right way.
I wish there had been more to Forest’s character. He starts off as a huge queerphobe who hates Claire. And by the end he thinks Claire is cute, and is shipping her with Tess, and is suddenly not a queerphobe anymore because Claire showed him some cute GIFs on Tumblr. Where was the character development here? Because I’m pretty sure people don’t just turn a new leaf cause of some cute GIFs. There was a hint towards the end that Forest’s queerphobia was likely internalised but then he didn’t even want to explore it. There was no exploration. In fact he was pawned off in a random relationship with a girl that he had never spoken one word to in the pages of Ship It. Yikes.
All in all, Ship It wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. It certainly had potential to get there, but there were just too many things that I couldn’t look beyond.
© 2018, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.
trigger warning ableism, use of ableist language, misuse of personal information (Claire writes a real person fic about Forest, using information he gave to her in a private conversation), queerphobia, homophobia, non-consensual touching (Claire’s semi-boyfriend touches her without her consent), non-consensual outing (Tess outs Claire to Claire’s mother without Claire’s consent), reference to racism, internalised queerphobia
ableism, use of ableist language, misuse of personal information (Claire writes a real person fic about Forest, using information he gave to her in a private conversation), queerphobia, homophobia, non-consensual touching (Claire’s semi-boyfriend touches her without her consent), non-consensual outing (Tess outs Claire to Claire’s mother without Claire’s consent), reference to racism, internalised queerphobia