Thursday, 23 February 2017

Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt

There was a time I regularly went to conventions, from LFCC and TV-show specific ones here in the UK to the incredible San Diego Comic Con in the US (by far the very best con experience ever!). Life and work has gotten in the way, and I've also not been as passionate about a fandom in a long while, but I still remember the good ol' days of little sleep and food, queuing from crazy o'clock for the biggest panels and stars, the fun swag and, of course, connecting with like-minded people to flail over something we all love. And Maggie Harcourt has captured the magic of conventions perfectly in her swoon-worthy YA novel Unconventional.

Lexi grew up on the convention circuit, first helping out her dad who owns a convention business and now she's basically running the full behind-the-scenes admin and organisation of the annual fan gatherings. She knows what she's doing and doesn't normally gets thrown off course... Until Aidan comes along. A popular debut author, he's new to the convention scene and so he doesn't quite know the processes and etiquette yet. And for someone as organised as Lexi that is a problem. Not to mention that he's very handsome to boot.

Conventions are a very unique thing; the passion of the attendees for whatever it is they're there for creates an electrifying atmosphere. There is little sleep or eating (after all, time is much better spend queuing for panels or meet & greets), and wandering around in that buzz of having met someone you admire while punching through sleep deprivation with a dose of caffeine creates happiness and excitement on a whole other level.

And for those that cosplay (dress us as characters from a fandom or their own creation), for that one weekend they can be whoever they have always dreamed to be, no matter how unlikely. There is an instant feeling of connection and acceptance, which outside of the convention hall so very often is far to be found.

Maggie Harcourt has translated this unique atmosphere fantastically onto the pages of her book Unconventional. Without writing out every single detail of convention life, that unique feeling seeps through all pages of her book with subtle touches and references for those who have been to cons before. And for those who have not had the privilege yet? After reading this novel I bet they're now looking into making a booking, because it sounds like such fun!

I loved seeing it from the other side as well; the organisers and the incredible hard work that goes into pulling this off. From celebrity guests with difficult requests right down to the mayhem of the registration desk. Lexi was the seasoned pro in the scenario and Aidan the newbie, both providing a different insight into conventions creating a very accessible book to both seasoned attendees and those who've only ever heard of cons.

The characters in this book were fantastic too and I loved both leads for different reasons. I could completely identify with Lexi's mad organisational skills and her need to have everything running smoothly. But then again, I couldn't dislike Aidan either because... swoon! He's a hottie that one. And an author too? I am sold. And then there were the other convention kids (especially Lexi's best friend Sam), who often added a touch of humour and light-heartedness to the story. As we journeyed with them from month to month, from con to con, I started to feel like they were my friends too – and I loved it.

Unconventional is quite a chunky novel but while reading you don't notice it at all. Fast-paced, funny, with loveable main characters and a swoon-worthy romance, I was gripped from start to finish. I didn't want the book to end, my only consolation is that it includes an exclusive extract of Aidan's novel Piecekeepers, which totally means a full book is bound to be published to right?

Pretty please, Maggie and Usborne? 



Unconventional is published by Usborne and you can get your copy from Foyles or your own preferred retailer.


Connect with the author:

Website: maggiehaha.tumblr.com

Twitter: @maggieharcourt
 


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