Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ
Page Count: 354
I remember seeing this book for the first time at a local book store and thinking the cover looked cute, so I looked it up on Goodreads and I noticed a bit of a mixed review. After reading this book, I can see where the mixed reviews are coming from. There are bits that were good and bits that were not.
When I first read the description of the book, it reminded me a little of the film GBF. A kind of campy and silly teen coming of age story complete with closeted boys and fan girls.
Campy isn’t always necessarily a bad thing if it’s done well. It’s good to read a story or watch a movie that’s a little lighter and doesn’t require you to think so much once in a while.
Fan Art tells the story of Jamie, a high school senior who isn’t necessarily popular, but gets along with everyone and who also happens to be gay. His only issue is he can’t find the courage to come out to anyone but his mother, not even his best friend Mason. Of course Jamie soon realizes he has feelings for his best friend but is too afraid to tell him in fear that he will no longer want to remain friends.
Once I got into the story, yes the campy fluffiness was there but it started to remind me more of another film based on a book, Geography Club. (Both of these films can be found on Netflix by the way!) Geography Club is a little less “Mean Girls” than GBF and I found that the further I got into Fan Art was when I noticed the description of the novel made it seem a lot less mature than it actually is.
Now here is where I start to get a little critical. There were a lot of moments in the story that I really liked, for example: Jamie standing up for himself and his beliefs against censorship within his high school’s magazine. I also really enjoyed the references to all things art and graphic design related as I was a huge art nerd in high school and I did study graphic design in university. But for the few moments I did like, there were more that I did not. As seen in some other reviews, there is a bit of stereotyping within the story that maybe just could have been worded differently. For example, here is a quote that has been brought up a couple of times:
“I never had baby dolls, never played dress up in my mom’s high heels, and never wanted to join the cheerleading squad, so it wasn’t like my mom knew I was gay.”
I think I understand where the author was going when she wrote this, but the way things were worded just made it seem very stereotypical, which brings me to another aspect of the novel that I wasn’t to keen on: the writing. I understand it’s a YA novel and it’s not going to be super complicated, and like I said before sometimes you need something a little less thought provoking and a little more fun, but the writing just wasn’t there for me. It had it’s moments but for the most part it almost felt a little like fan fiction which I suppose is a little ironic.
I also found that there are quite a lot of characters and by the end of the book a lot of their stories had loose ends or weren’t thought a lot about. Who did rat on on Nick? What was up with Challis and her family? I just felt like I needed more closure with a lot of the side characters.
While reading Fan Art, all you want is for our main character Jamie to be able to come out and express his love for his best friend, even if that meant the chance of getting rejected. So finally, after all this building up and getting to the big moment we’ve all been waiting for it just fell flat and I once again am going to have to criticize the writing.
A moment that should have felt beautiful ended up feeling like a let down. It was just awkward for me, I knew it was coming and I didn’t feel excited or happy, just underwhelmed.
Overall, I think this story had potential. It had cute and fun moments which was what I was looking for going into reading a story like this one, but there are a few things that I wish were written differently.