Fan the Fame

HarperTeen. Aug. 2019. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062560841.
Gr 10 Up–In this stand-alone companion to Kat and Meg Conquer the World, high school senior Lainey is the younger sister of Youtube Legends of the Stone (LotS) gaming sensation Codemeister. Lainey acts as Cody’s production assistant, despite being increasingly disgusted by his objectification and harassment of girls. But at gaming convention LotSCON, Cody repeatedly brushes off Lainey’s concerns about his behavior. Also at LotSCON is up-and-coming female Youtuber ShadowWillow, whose popularity has skyrocketed after a stream with Codemeister that generated rumors about their relationship status. Shadow would rather be recognized for her skills, but she’s willing to play along with the gossip if it means driving up her subscriber count. Meanwhile, SamTheBrave, a socially isolated streaming newbie with a skin-picking condition, works up the courage to share his channel with Codemeister. When Cody humiliates Sam and Lainey captures this incident and others on film, she is faced with a weighty question: what if the only way to save her brother from himself is to publicly expose—and destroy—him? While occasionally heavy-handed in its messaging, this novel explores a wide range of complex questions surrounding gaming, misogyny, Internet fame, and call-out culture. The LotS world—somewhat akin to Minecraft—and its fan culture are described in compelling detail, and the POV characters are well-developed. Sam’s journey to self-acceptance, informed by the author’s own experience with a skin-picking disorder, is particularly well done.
VERDICT A worthwhile look at gaming, fandom, and feminism that will find an audience among fans of Jen Wilde’s Queens of Geek or Whitney Gardener’s Chaotic Good

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