I started watching Riverdale back in Fall of last year and it became one of my favorite shows on the CW’s line up. One of the writers on the show, Britta Lundin, released her debut first novel combining geekiness, LGBTQIA+ and fandom together into her book titled Ship It. Ship It is easily one of my favorite books I read in 2018 despite the controversy surrounding the novel which I will discuss below.
Ship It details the life of Claire, a sixteen year old recently becoming obsessed with the show Demon Heart with similarities to Supernatural. She has shipped her two favorite characters Smokey and Heart together as romantic partners even though it isn’t canon. Claire attends the Demon Heart panel at a local convention and asks the cast about her ship between Smokey and Heart. Forest Reed, the actor who plays Smokey comes across as a jerk and calls Claire crazy. Claire is immediately stunned and leaves the panel as fans boo the cast.
The crew make amends with Claire by inviting her on the convention press tour to help renew Demon Heart for a second season. Throughout the convention tour, Claire starts to realize maybe she isn’t straight herself and Forest recognizes what he has to do to save his career from being tainted by the Smokey and Heart ship.
I enjoyed this book for multiple reasons. The book is excellent in exploring the downsides of toxic masculinity. Forest Reed when prompted about the chance of his character being gay on the show reacts negatively. Forest reacts this way partly because he’s also auditioning for a role in a hyper masculine action movie. He doesn’t want the chance of playing a gay character ruin his chances of attaining the role. Apparently gay men cannot be action heroes? Is this because of how gay men are perceived as being less masculine? All of these horrible stereotypes play a role in toxic masculinity. Forest has quite the character development as he starts to fully embrace his own geeky personality along with becoming more educated about Tumblr and the LGBTQIA+ community.
Most of the book takes place in various conventions across the U.S. I absolutely love attending conventions and I feel it’s the perfect atmosphere for me to thrive. I liked reading about Claire’s reactions attending her first convention along with Forest and the rest of the Demon Heart cast.
After reading multiple reviews on Goodreads for Ship It I discovered the multiple controversies surrounding this book. This book doesn’t depict fans in a flattering way. Claire hijacks Jamie’s twitter to convince him to make Smokey and Heart fall in love with each other. Jamie being the creator of Demon Heart has every right to be angry with Claire. Claire comes across as a ruthless fan trying to get what she wants even though Demon Heart doesn’t belong to her. As a fan, I personally would never attempt to do this.
Besides how fans are portrayed, Claire makes questionable decisions which led to quite a few readers disliking her character. One such example is when Claire writes fan fiction about Forest revealing a secret kiss between Forest and another man. Forest told Claire in secret about this interaction without knowing Claire would publish it on Tumblr. This is unacceptable as Forest shared this in confidence with Claire. I stand by Claire as a character partly because of her age. Being sixteen, I remember being selfish at this age. Being a teenager shouldn’t be an excuse for behavior, but I find teenagers in their immaturity say things they don’t mean and Claire isn’t an exception.
Overall Ship It was a fictional geeky novel I enjoyed reading although I empathize with readers who disliked this book. I do recommend purchasing the novel and reading it for yourself because it’s crucial to support novels written or include LGBTQIA+ content. Don’t forget to watch Riverdale on the CW premiering Wednesdays 8/7c and watch Britta Lundin’s writing skills in full force.