Spoiler Alert is adorable and fun — one of my favourite books this year!
I love the way the author writes about her fat heroine (April outright says that she’s not chubby or plump, but fat). April is confident in her body, but she’s faced bullying from loved ones and online trolls alike, so her confidence is hard-earned, and not always steady. Marcus obviously finds her gorgeous and sexy, and their sex scenes show how April’s fatness is part of her sex appeal, with Marcus getting turned on by her big thighs and overall softness. I forgot the exact phrases the author used, but the novel gives us a very clear picture of a fat woman — with dimpled thighs, belly rolls, round face, and overall physical heft — as desirable, and I love the author so much for this.
I also love how April is a rich and nuanced character beyond the amazing fat rep. She’s a geologist (yay nerdy heroine / woman in STEM!) who likens getting to know Marcus to digging into types of soil (yay nerdy science references!). She’s also a popular fan fiction writer with a talent for fluffy fan fics and steamy sex scenes, who has had to hide this part of her from her former co-workers (government job), and so has to learn to be more open at her new job. One of her and Marcus’ dates is at a museum with a reenactment of an earthquake, which I also thought was awesome.
I also love how nuanced Marcus is as a character. He’s a Nikolaj Coster-Waldau-type actor (he plays a Jaime Lannister-type character in a Game of Thrones-like TV show) with a himbo public persona. But from his very first appearance, we know the himbo persona is far from the truth. The author introduces us to Marcus as he’s filming a fight scene with choreography he and his co-star have practiced so much the movements have become automatic. Within the physicality of the scene is the thought and rigour with which Marcus approaches his work, such that every movement is infused with a whole world of motivations informed by his character’s history. We also see in this scene how Marcus’s work as an actor is informed not just by the script or the show, but also by the novels on which the show was based, and the Greek mythology that inspired those novels. Marcus is as much as nerd as April is, and I absolutely love that about him.
I also love how vulnerable he is. As the story progresses, we learn that he adopted a himbo persona due to insecurity over a disability, and over his strained relationship with his parents. He’s scared of letting others see who he really is, and finds solace in the anonymity of fan fiction, where he can divert his frustrations over his character’s arc into writing the stories he wants his character to have (basically Jaime / Brienne ships).
Both April and Marcus have a lot to sort out within their own lives, in terms of their confidence in themselves, and their relationships with their families. I love how they each have their own major story arc beyond the romance, and how their relationship with each other helps them along their individual arcs. I love how their communication with each other becomes more open as their relationship progresses — it’s not easy to write the subtleties of such a gradual progression, but the author has managed to make it feel real.
The romance all comes to a head at a Comic Con-type event where Marcus and his co-stars are promoting their final season, and April is doing an on-stage interview with one of Marcus’ co-stars. It’s a wonderfully geeky setting for a grand gesture, and very much fitting for this novel.
This is one of my favourite books this year, and I highly recommend it.