Work Header

Grace and the Fever by Zan Romanoff: Book Review

Work Text:

In this day and age, people are always drawn to new obsessions and entertainment. The clear favorite is the celebrities that star in our movies and artists who sing the songs on our Spotify playlist. It’s always more exciting than real life and people want to submerge their senses in that world of possibilities, glamor and fun.
I’m no different.

I love fandoms. I love music. I love bands. I enjoy seeing fanart, reading fanfiction and even writing my own. That’s what drew me to Grace and the Fever.
This book is about Grace Thomas, a self-proclaimed “nobody”, who lives a relatively ordinary life in a suburb outside of Los Angeles, California. All this changes when she finds Jes Holloway smoking on the hood of his car late one evening. Jes is a member of, “Fever Dream”, a boyband with a staggering fanbase and Grace just happens to be a part of it. However online, her fellow “fever dreamers” know her, not as Grace, but as Gigi, a superfan who runs a Tumblr blog with thousands of followers.
When someone snaps a picture of Grace and Jes together, Grace is sucked into Jes’ world, where reality and fiction are nearly interchangeable, and she learns how far people will go to keep parts of their lives out of the spotlight.

The book, in a way, is a bit like a fangirl’s fanfic gone wrong or maybe just a daydream that got shoved back into reality.

My first impression of this book was a heavy dose of déjà vu. Not that I have ever ran into a celebrity on neighborhood walk and become internet famous just by association, but because the main character is so relatable.

Grace is a good girl, sweet and naive enough for readers to easily like her but, thoughtless and selfish enough to ruin the best thing that’s ever happened to her. It’s easy to wonder how you would respond if you were in her shoes.

So many of the younger generations tend to live through our celebrity idols, fixated on everything they are and do to the point they become more like characters in a epic interactive story that we can mold to our liking and forget they are real people, with dreams and faults and secrets that have no reason to become a public spectacle. Not everything needs to be online.

One of the things I found that stuck out for me about this story was the relationship between Jes’ fellow bandmembers, Landon and Solly, which is one of the main conflicts. The Fever Dream Fandom is convinced that the two are in a secret relationship that the band’s management is trying to hide. There blogs dedicated to dissecting and analyzing every interview, photo and video clip in the desperate and almost obsessive search to prove that “Lolly” is for real. Remind you of anything? (Cue picture of “One Direction’s” Harry and Louis) The fact the author actually thanked the former members of One Direction in her acknowledgments really drives home the idea that I think most of the book is a dig against Directioners and the whole “Larry” situation. The criticism could also be applied to other celebrity ships (Pete and Patrick of Fall Out Boy come to mind) and I believe Zan Romanoff is not so subtlety informing her readers that somethings are not our business and we need to let it go. (Let it GO!...sorry for the frozen reference)
Another thing was the story pointed out that bands tend to market themselves and their members a certain way. There is the Funny One. There’s the Dark Emo/Bad Boy One. There’s the Quiet One. There’s the Cute Adorable One Who Is Too Good For This World…

You guys get my drift.

The thing I’m sure you can guess guys, is that bands have to do this to create a certain image for their fanbase so fans can feel more connected to the band and feel like they “know” them. The problem is that this tends to result in basically putting the bandmembers in a box.
(Favorite band member of favorite band) has to do this and this and this because they are the (Personality trait) One and must always act like it because that is what the fans expect of them.

In the book, Jas acts as the Bad Boy who’s always causing trouble. At one point Grace is told that the staff at a hotel is forbidden from serving alcohol to one of the members of Fever Dream and Grace automatically assumes it’s Jas (it’s not). When Grace enters their world, she soon realizes years of internet stalking and hero-worship doesn’t mean shit when you discover the real person.

To put it simply, this book is a letter to the Band Fandom to show that while it’s good to have something you enjoy and makes you happy, when it becomes an all-consuming obsession, it might be time to tone it down a few notches.

This is also a story about relationships, friendships and loyalty. It’s about an 18 year old girl beginning her life in the adult world.

It’s filled with fun characters, a few laughs and a touch of romance. The best part is that it’s not just an cliché angsty YA novel. Like Grace, when you think you know what’s going on, the rug is pulled out from under you and throws you for a loop. You never quite know what’s coming next and it’s so relatable that it’s kind of scary. I really couldn’t put it down.

As a fangirl, this book definitely made me think about our actions online and how we treat or view the celebrities we adore.

While we love and admire these people from afar, we have to remember that they are still people and should be respected as such.