Bookish and the Beast is the conclusion to the Once Upon a Con series – one of my favorite YA contemporary series. The first two books were truly an ode to nerd culture and fangirls – and great modern takes on classic fairy tales. When I found out the final book would be based on Beauty and the Beast, I was thrilled – it’s one of my favorite fairy tales.
In the third book in Ashley Poston’s Once Upon a Con series, Beauty and the Beast is retold in the beloved Starfield universe.
Rosie Thorne is feeling stuck—on her college application essays, in her small town, and on that mysterious General Sond cosplayer she met at ExcelsiCon. Most of all, she’s stuck in her grief over her mother’s death. Her only solace was her late mother’s library of rare Starfield novels, but even that disappeared when they sold it to pay off hospital bills.
On the other hand, Vance Reigns has been Hollywood royalty for as long as he can remember—with all the privilege and scrutiny that entails. When a tabloid scandal catches up to him, he’s forced to hide out somewhere the paparazzi would never expect to find him: Small Town USA. At least there’s a library in the house. Too bad he doesn’t read.
When Rosie and Vance’s paths collide and a rare book is accidentally destroyed, Rosie finds herself working to repay the debt. And while most Starfield superfans would jump at the chance to work in close proximity to the Vance Reigns, Rosie has discovered something about Vance: he’s a jerk, and she can’t stand him. The feeling is mutual.
But as Vance and Rosie begrudgingly get to know each other, their careful masks come off—and they may just find that there’s more risk in shutting each other out than in opening their hearts.
Once again, Bookish and the Beast was chock full with pop culture references and nerdy passion for the fictional sci-fi series, Starfield. For the first time in the series, this book didn’t take place at the big fan convention like the previous two (at least partially) did. For this book, it mostly takes place in the strange castle-like house in Rosie’s home town. The castle style home is home to the world’s biggest collection of Starfield books – books that Rosie is organizing to pay off a debt. The small setting definitely made the book rely heavily on its characters.
In this retelling, Rosie is Belle and Vance is the Beast. Vance was riding out his isolation (punishment) in a small town after wrecking a car (and a laundry list of other bad boy behaviors) and losing control of his life. He was a big time Hollywood star whose parents finally decided enough was enough and it was time to get him under control. Naturally, Vance was resentful and bitter at the beginning of the book. After meeting Rosie and being forced to be around her, he slowly defrosted and really grew as a character.
Rosie, on the other hand, was a certified Starfield fanatic who was itching to get out of her small town. She was incredibly family oriented, and still reeling from the loss of her mother. She was also a big fan of Vance’s, at least before she met him (and he was a total ass). Throughout this book, Rosie’s spine grew as she took on Vance’s hostility and dealt with the obnoxious jock who was demanding to take her to prom. By the end, she was a fully confident woman, ready to pursue her goals and was not standing in her own way any more.
Bookish and the Beast was a great conclusion to an amazing series of books. I hope at some point we get another book in the series or a spin off (I would die to read any of the Starfield novels that Rosie helped to organize). If you haven’t already, be sure to go read the first two books of the Once Upon a Con series – Geekerella and Princess and the Fangirl. 5/5