Book Review: Down With This Ship by Katie Kingman
It’s sad to see in other reviews, readers describing the way a 17-year-old girl behaves as ‘immature’. It makes me feel a certain way about who is actually the target audience for a book that is very explicitly YA. Spoiler; if you think a teenager worrying about what her friends will think of her, agonising over whether a boy likes her, or having anxiety about not living up to her parents’ expectations is immature… you’re not the intended audience for this book.
Yes, there were moments when I thought “Oh, honey, you should have just done this…” but I’ve seen 17 nearly three times now. When I was 17, I’d have made exactly the same mistakes as Kole. I DID make some of the same mistakes, including caving to bullies because I thought they had the power to affect me. Like Kole, though, I discovered I had people in my corner, and that shining light on cockroaches makes them scuttle for cover. That’s the real story in this book, Kole hitting the end of her rope and finding a well of strength inside herself. Being pushed into a corner and coming out swinging - at one point, literally - and realising that doing so is taking back her own power.
The end might be a bit wish-fulfilment, but you know what? Seanan McGuire got her start writing Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic, so Kole’s dreams coming true aren’t all that far-fetched.
Katie Kingman has obviously spent plenty of time in fandom. She’s also put in the work to create a proper fake fandom for this book; it was one of my pet peeves about Spoiler Alert, another recent book with a fanfic-author heroine, that the fandom hadn’t had the serial numbers filed off thoroughly enough. Kingman’s done the job well enough that I, who also spend a lot of time in fandom, really don’t know what ship the main couple was based on (though I can make an educated guess, considering only a few ships have really attracted anti-fandoms). The fandom isn’t the important part about this book, though. It’s the message to the intended readers, the teenagers who love fandom and want to dream big. Don’t let the haters get you down. If you’re pushed into a corner, come out swinging and let the truth set you free. And; there will always be someone on your side. Find your fellow shippers and you’re gonna be just fine.
Five stars for a read I thoroughly enjoyed… even though I’m probably three decades too old for the intended audience.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.