Book Review: “Don’t Cosplay With My Heart” by Cecil Castellucci

Warning: This book review of “Don’t Cosplay With My Heart” by Cecil Castellucci has spoilers! If you want to avoid them, you may wish to read a different book review instead. If you don’t mind, keep reading!

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “Don’t Cosplay With My Heart” by Cecil Castellucci! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:

When Edan Kupferman dresses up like her favorite character, Gargantua, she feels tall and powerful. That’s important right now, because her family is a mess, her best friend is gone for the summer, her crush is confusing, and Edan’s feeling small and not sure which end is up.When Edan’s cosplaying, she can be angry, loud, and not the good girl everyone thinks she is. And when she’s at conventions, she feels like she’s found her own Team Tomorrow. But when her personal life starts to spiral out of control, Edan has to figure out whether she needs a sidekick, or if she has the strength to be the hero of her own story.”

Trigger Warnings:

There are a couple instances of physical and/or verbal harassment towards female cosplayers scattered throughout the book, as well as some overly sexist characters that do exist from time to time. Also, there is an emotionally unhealthy relationship between two of the main characters. If any of this makes you uncomfortable, you may want to skip this.

Plot Development: 1.5 out of 5 stars

Character Development: 1 out of 5 stars

Admittedly, there is not much of a plot other than what goes on in Edan’s homelife, the sexist fellow fandom-related peers she interacts with, and her trying to make some great cosplay in general. This is definitely a very character-driven story, due to all the characters’ actions being what sets up and guides the plot of the overall story.  Unfortunately, none of the characters are intriguing to read.

I felt a little sympathy for the main character, Edan, and her home life. However, I was not impressed by how flat she was otherwise. Her constant comparing herself to Gargantua felt heavy-handed throughout the story, and she did not act her age at all. Speaking of age, I had no clue whether she’s a young teenager or older teenager. Clearly she’s in highschool, but there are no indications of whether she was, say, in Grade Nine or Grade Twelve. She also acts like she’s having a tantrum every couple of chapters in reaction to her situations, and the fact that she bemoans not having an allowance due to her home-life situation to get all the expensive cosplay/fandom-related things made it harder for me to sympathize with her as a reader.

I also did not enjoy reading Yuri, Phil, or virtually any of the other characters, either. None of them felt compelling to me and felt like they were there as plot or theme devices of sexism in fandom/geek culture, which I did not appreciate. The only genuinely nice person is Kirk, and even then he’s flat.

Romance Development: 1 out of 5 stars

There was very little compelling romance in this book. Edan and Yuri’s relationship quickly turns toxic for the worse, and even with the more romantic scenes they had, there was very little chemistry. Also, the way Edan breaks off her relationship with Yuri just shows she could be (and is) as bad to her partner as he was to her.

Though Edan and Kirk’s relationship development was much healthier (with Kirk even protecting Edan from someone who physically harasses her at a public event), it also suffered from an overall lack of chemistry. If they were developing a friendship, I would be fine with this, but the two becoming romantic just didn’t quite work out for me as a reader.

Worldbuilding Development: 3 out of 5 stars

I am glad that the sections inbetween chapters do discuss how Gargantua and the franchise Team Tomorrow got started, as well as even giving how the franchise development some of its own history. I felt a bit more immersed in understanding how it came to be as a reader, even if I had no idea what it was going into this book. I also enjoyed the comic-convention scenes where the characters were present to see the new actors for the upcoming Team Tomorrow film and then actually watching the film. Out of everything in the book, the worldbuilding was the strongest through how it established the fandom and the franchise it’s centered around.

However, like how I reviewed “Fangirl,” I have the same critique of wanting to know even more about this fandom. Because the book is overall cosplay and comic-con heavy, it makes sense that the worldbuilding focuses on that, but I also would’ve liked to know more about it. For instance, are there fanfiction communities? Fanart communities? Maybe people wrote fan-related analyses and theories? If there was even at least a brief mention of those communities and whether there are those types of communities related to the franchise, I think it would help round out and demonstrate how much fan support there is for Team Tomorrow. 

Overall, I’m rating this book 1.5 out of 5 stars!

If you’re looking for worldbuilding for a cosplay community and a whole franchise, this might be worth reading. If you’re looking for actual character, plot and romance development, however, you may want to read something else.

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