cover image Stranger Than Fanfiction

Stranger Than Fanfiction

Chris Colfer. Little, Brown, $18.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-38344-8

In Colfer’s (the Land of Stories series) first YA novel, four Illinois teens join the 20-something star of their favorite TV show, Wiz Kids, on a road trip. Topher Collins never expected Cash Carter to respond to his invitation to accompany him and three friends on their post-graduation tour of tourist attractions between Illinois and California, and he certainly didn’t expect Cash to be so reckless and candid. As the five veer from their carefully planned itinerary, hidden truths emerge, threatening to ruin their friendship, but eventually bringing them closer. Colfer touches on sexuality, identity, familial expectations, and acceptance through his characters, but many discussions feel rushed and deserving of deeper consideration, including when one character comes out as transgender. Attempts to make the characters relatable can turn cringe-worthy; during a confession while high, Topher confesses that he once dosed his younger brother, who has cerebral palsy, with cough medicine in order to sneak out and watch an episode of Wiz Kids. The book succeeds as offbeat escapism, but it doesn’t adequately address the serious topics it introduces. Ages 15–up. (Feb.)