Ship It is a YA novel by debut author Britta Lundin. I was excited about the opportunity to read this book because I enjoy YA books, and the premise intrigued me.
Claire is a teenage girl living in rural Idaho. She doesn’t have a lot of friends at school, but she is a very active member in the Demon Heart fan community online. She writes slash fanfiction (gay romance) about the two male protagonists, and is absolutely convinced of the chemistry between them. When a comic convention comes to Boise, Claire is eager to attend the Demon Heart panel. She asks the actors whether or not he’ll be making SmokeHeart (the romantic pairing) canon (a real part of the show). Forest, who is one of the actors, answers rather rudely, and Claire is devastated and embarrassed. However, she ends up winning a huge prize- the chance to travel with the cast to two more conventions.
Claire knows that she needs to mend things with Forest, but at the same time, she wants to convince him of SmokeHeart’s importance. She also wants to convince Jamie, the showrunner, to make SmokeHeart canon. She’s rather persistent in her efforts.
But that’s not all that’s going on- Claire meets Tess, who loves drawing fanart. Tess is pansexual, and as Claire gets to know her, she begins to question whether or not she’s developing feelings for Tess.
The narrative shifts between Claire’s perspective and Forest’s perspective. This job with Demon Heart is Forest’s first major role after years of struggling to find roles. This is his first exposure to the convention scene, and he is taken aback by Claire’s questions. He never considered that his character could be gay, and it’s a lot for him to unpack. These dual perspectives are interspersed with some of Claire’s SmokeHeart fiction.
This was a sweet book, but there were also moments of angst and self-reflection and discovery. I’m out of the target demographic, but I do know enough about fandoms to know about slashfic and showrunners. Tess does make some questionable choices, but this is typical of a teenager. They don’t always have empathy, and their planning/problem solving skills are still being developed. So, while her behavior may be seen as obsessive and problematic, it’s not entirely atypical for someone her age.
I would recommend Ship It. I think that it will appeal mostly to its target demographic, but I also think that older readers who enjoy being part of a fandom will appreciate this book as well. I am looking forward to reading more from Lundin in the future!
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance copy of this book.