Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Raw and Honest Contemporary | Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson

I was really excited to read this one, but it wasn't one I had super high expectations of. I had heard some great things about it before hand and I'm glad I can contribute to the praise. :)

*I received an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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.

*Released May 17th 2016 from Chronicle Books*
My Thoughts
Gena/Finn was an honest, messy story about two ladies that meet online and form a strong friendship. They have to deal with so many unexpected emotions and events that change their lives and their relationships. I ADORED this story. The formatting, the turmoil, the themes, the bonds, the events: there was simply so much to love about it.
This book is told in chats, blog posts, journals, emails, poems, etc. The formatting took me a little bit to get used to, but once I did? Wow. It was really easy to tap into the characters' emotions and get a feel for their personalities and sense the bonds that existed. The formatting--along with the raw, honest writing--also made it easy for the words to soak in and make me feel for the characters. The emotions were enhanced, so I was able to connect to the book really well. It also allowed for a lot of unfiltered thoughts (especially in journal entries) and it just made the characters so much more real.
Gena and Finn were so close. I loved their relationship. It was built out of a shared love of a show and their places in the fandom. It was great to see such a strong bond created between two people that met on the internet. I have internet friends (no one I'm close to nearly as much as these ladies) and I see great internet friendships everyday, so I could immediately relate to the characters very well. As the book went on, though, the line between just friendship and something more was a blurry one and that internet bond changed into something different.

I don't know how much I can say about either character as individuals without spoilers since a lot of my reactions stem from part three (the last part of the book). But both had strong, distinct personalities. Both dealt with very strong emotions as their lives fell apart and they had to figure what the hell to do with the leftover pieces.
I'm not exactly sure what to say about this . . . I feel like it wasn't a large focus. There were some intense feelings and a lot of conflict because of them (because, you know, love triangle), but romance seemed to be subtle. Maybe that was because the focuses on friendship and mental illness were much bigger? Maybe it was the formatting since you didn't get to see the characters directly interact with each other? I'm not exactly sure! I kinda wish there was more, but the story didn't need it.
Oh my god, this made me sad. Charlie was a wonderful guy and his and Finn's relationship becomes strained. The way it was affected by her and Gena's bond was painful to both of them and it was just . . . sad. With Gena's feelings on top of it and her reactions to Finn and Charlie made all the emotions in the book so much messier and harder to swallow. I loved that there were so many conflicted feelings! It made the story more painful, which increased my emotional connection to it, which helped make it easy to give the book five stars. 
This book made me cry! I wasn't expecting it, but after that moment, the book became even better than it was before. Maybe I was so connected to it that flaws didn't matter? I started highlighting like crazy because so many passages seemed worth remembering. I love love love how this book was written. It was ridiculously quotable. Part three especially is packed with emotion and quotable moments.
Final Thoughts?
A phenomenal story about friendship, love, fandom, grief, life, and all the conflicted feelings that come with each, Gena/Finn is a must-read for any contemporary fan! Basically, READ THIS BOOK. I felt completely floored by the story and the writing by the time I was through with this one. I ended up with 50+ notes and highlights in my e-arc because so many passages sounded right--they sounded like words that fit so perfectly together that I couldn't resist saving them. This book is honest, raw, and REAL. And it must be read.

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