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Ship It: 06/09/18

Ship It

Ship It by Britta Lundin is a YA about toxic fandom and queerbating. Claire is a sixteen year old fanfic writer obsessed with a show called Demon Heart which was inspired by a series of paranormal novels. Now out of nowhere, her favorite show is participating in a comic con in nearby Boise and she's got to be there.

Claire ships the two main characters. She's been writing slash fiction about them and posting it on Tumblr for the entire run of the show. The fanfic is her escape and she's horrified when one of the stars tells her the characters aren't gay and they will never kiss on screen.

As that set up and payoff is the first third of the book, it would be a short story if Claire were to just go home feeling disillusioned with the show.

No of course not. We are to believe that the producers of the show are unprofessional enough to think up a contest at the last moment, rig said contest, and then invite a sixteen year old to be their official live blogger at the rest of the stops on the convention tour. We're then to believe that the adult stars of the show would be given access to said minor and she in turn would be given access to the official social media accounts.

As someone who used to work in social media as one accounts (though not Twitter and not Tumblr as neither company existed at the time) I can tell you what a load of hogwash this set up is. These accounts are typically highly scripted and highly monitored by the higher ups (or at least their personal assistants).

But that's not the half of it. The book also gives point of view chapters from the star who shot down Claire's kissing question. He is more concerned about a different acting role, one as the lead in a video game turned movie franchise. He's afraid that playing a gay character will typecast him against type for this video game movie role.

The third and final point of view, if it can be called that, are the snippets of Claire's fanfic. This part is my least favorite. It's overwritten and frankly since there isn't any actual canon, there's nothing to compare it to. (I should note that I don't like the fanfic parts in Fangirl for the same reason).

But mostly this book suffers from a lack of understanding of the intersectionality of fandom. Claire in the beginning of the book has to explain what shipping is to her mother. There's also a so many unnecessary scenes about the adults learning about Tumblr and Twitter — and setting both accounts up while at the conference. Trust me, these accounts would already be set up and active well before the conference road trip.

Finally it seems like the author didn't have a grasp on when Claire was born. If the book is contemporary and she's sixteen in 2018, she was born in 2002. She comments about not watching much TV as a kid and not having cable and only having rabbit ears. The conversion to a digital signal happened in 2009 (thus the nail in the coffin of the rabbit ears). She would have been five. I very much doubt she would remember them.

Claire also mentions growing up with a few favorite VHS tapes. VHS was already dying out to DVDs and later digital in her earliest childhood, if she was born in 2002.

Now let's pretend that this is taking place not currently and this show isn't a Riverdale-esque show (even though the author is a writer for said show) and instead this show is inspired by Supernatural which started in 2005 and therefore this is 2006, meaning she was born in 1990. The VHS and rabbit ears would jive but, wait, there wouldn't be Tumblr (it started in 2007). And Twitter would be months old (March 21, 2006).

Basically this book is sloppy. According to the afterword, it started as a screenplay and the author was encouraged to expand it into a novel. Films and television series are much shorter and these sort of plot holes get missed because the action has moved onto another scene. As a novel though, it doesn't hold up.

Two stars

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