Title: Ship It
Author: Britta Lundin
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Freeform Books
Published: May 1, 2018
Rating: 1 star
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. (source)
I don’t typically write a lot of hate reviews. Mostly because I have way too many good books to recommend that wasting time on the bad ones seems counter-intuitive.
But today I’m making a glorious exception to tell you about one of the worst books I’ve read in a while. Ship It by Britta Lundin.
Where do I begin? This book follows Claire, a fangirl obsessed with a C-list show called Demon Heart. Fan art, fanfiction, gifs, you name it, she blogs it. We also read from the point of view of Forest, a lead actor on Demon Heart who’s trying to make a name for himself in Hollywood.
These two collide at a convention during the Demon Heart panel when Claire demands to know whether the main characters, Smokey and Heart, who are both male, are in love with each other. After Forest, who plays Smokey, rather rudely, dismisses the notion the characters are gay, fandom goes crazy, and the Demon Heart PR team decide to let Claire join the rest of their convention tour as a form of damage.
A quick disclaimer before I dig into why this storyline bothered me immensely: I have no problem with shipping and/or fandom. That includes fanfiction, fan art, and everything in between. In fact, I’d consider the book community to be a sort of large fandom, and really, it can be a beautiful thing.
But Claire? Takes it to ridiculous, inappropriate, and, frankly, creepy levels. Her whole storyline is her going on a quest to convince the writer of the TV show that Smokey and Heart are gay and should be together. At the heart (haha, get it?) of this issue, her intentions seem pure: gay representation on prime time TV is a rarity, and she’s trying to change that.
While this quest may appear noble, Claire takes things way, way, way too far. To the lengths that she disrupts panels, hacks Twitter accounts, blackmails people, and tries to ruin actors’ careers, just to make her ship go canon. This, to me, represents, the absolute worst side of fandoms and shipping.
To make matters worse, her character is, you guessed it, absolutely non-existent. She learns nothing about boundaries, or respect, or just taking no for freaking answer. To top it all of it, Claire is one of the most mean, judgemental, and snobbish characters I have ever had the displeasure of meeting. Basically if you don’t like Demon Heart, you’re not worthy of anyone’s time.
Let’s get into a character who dislike slightly less. Forest Reed is trying – or at least that’s what he keeps telling us – to be a good person in this whole fiasco. And he, at least, makes the effort to understand Claire’s point of view.
But the fact that he couldn’t even fathom the very idea of playing a gay character rubbed me wrong from the start. Plus, he didn’t really have a real story until the second half, and it seemed he was mostly there just to fill pages. He had a few redeeming qualities, and I definitely preferred reading from his point of view than Claire’s but overall, Forest still left a sour taste in my mouth.
(WORDS IN BOLD RED IN THIS PARAGRAPH ARE SPOILERS) And don’t even get me started on that train wreck of a romance subplot. Tess and Claire could have been a great example of a YA f/f couple. But instead, this relationship was grossly problematic. I’m honestly gobsmacked that an author who is part of the LGBTQ would include things likeforced outingand have the apology be so insufficient. Tess literally outs Clair to her Mom, intentionally, for revenge. Plus, the way that Claire judged Tess for not having friends that were into Demon Heart, and exposed her to them? I thought I might pull my hair out.
Were there any redeeming qualities? Some of the side characters weren’t totally awful, but were sorely underdeveloped.
I went in expecting to at least like Ship It. Not only because f/f representation is rare in YA, and though I’m not a part of that community, I thought it would be fresh, but also because it’s about fandom, and shipping, and loving characters.
But in the end, it was unhealthy, problematic, and just very annoying. And honestly, it just made me mad. I’ve only ever given such a 1 star rating to one other book, but today, I’m going to add Ship It to that list.
Content warnings: homophobia, forced outing.
Did you love Ship It? Hate it? Did I manage to change your mind? Tell me in the comments! 🙂